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Berlin district offers foreigners a lifeline by translating online info into ‘easy German'

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Berlin district offers foreigners a lifeline by translating online info into ‘easy German'
Reading bureaucratic German can be a cause for stress for some. Credit: depositphotos/stokkete
10:25 CET+01:00
Foreigners - and some Germans themselves - in Berlin can now take a sigh of relief. The district office of Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg is offering the possibility to read about several of its services in simple German.

Those seeking to learn about family and children, health, social and general residential services can now click on a button for “Webseite in Leichte Sprache” (Website in Easy Language), according to the district's press spokeswoman Sara Lühmann in a statement on the website on Friday.

As The Local perused the website on Tuesday morning, it found that the main pages for the various administrative offices were in Easy German. But if people want to dig a little deeper, for instance by reading important information about registering an address, they still have to wade through normal bureaucratic Deustch.

In the press statement, Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, which is home to many foreigners, said that it intends to translate further parts of the website into easy German. 

A Centre for Easy Language helped to translate parts of the website from its previous bureaucratic German in order to accommodate “people who have (at the moment) difficulties with the German language or people who are functionally illiterate,” Lühmann wrote.

“We value that people with learning disabilities can now easily orient themselves,” said district mayor Monika Herrmann, pointing out that the website also now offers an easy A-Z list and a dictionary for the vocabulary it uses.

In the social services section, for example, the text states: “Manche Menschen verdienen kein Geld. Zum Leben braucht man aber Geld.“

The translation of the simple German sentences would be, “Some people earn no money, but you need money to live.”

The Centre for Easy Language has helped translate several German texts for “people with a migration background or learning disabilities,” it states on its website. They include a book on German constitutional rights, a guide to famous German musicians, and several services in Augsburg, where the center is based.

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