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LEARNING GERMAN

Word of the day: Der Schnarchhahn

You might hear our word of the day if you've had a particularly rough or long night and can't concentrate very well.

Word of the day: Der Schnarchhahn
Photo: Depositphotos

Schnarchhahn consists of the words schnarchen, which means to snore and Hahn, which
means rooster.

Hence, if you call someone a Schnarchhahn, you are basically calling them a snoring rooster. A more figurative translation would probably be “sleepyhead.”

Schnarchhahn is quite a colloquial word that you'd usually use as a soft insult to describe someone who is tired or lacking in concentration. The word isn't too harsh but be careful if you're saying it in the office — it's probably best not to describe a boss in this way.

So for example, if you're at work and you see a colleague falling asleep while trying to organize their files or spilling coffee over important documents, you might call them a Schnarchhahn. Word of warning though: it's probably best to use it on someone you're close to and who has a sense of humour, as you don't want to offend anyone.

Photo: Depositphotos/stockasso

Examples:

Dieser Schnarchhahn hat mir heute Morgen Kaffee über meine Bluse gekippt.

That sleepyhead spilled coffee all over my blouse this morning.

Guck mal, Klaus ist schon wieder bei der Arbeit eingeschlafen. Was für ein Schnarchhahn.

Look, Klaus fell asleep on the job again. What a sleepyhead.

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GERMAN WORD OF THE DAY

German phrase of the day: Lügen haben kurze Beine

This phrase tells you why you should try not to lie.

German phrase of the day: Lügen haben kurze Beine

Why do I need to know Lügen haben kurze Beine?

From the serpent in the Bible to the spectacular fall of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson (see the Spiegel cover below with the title ‘one lie too many’), lying has always been morally and socially unacceptable.

Yet everyone lies. Anyone who says otherwise is probably telling fibs. Past research has suggested people lie once or twice per day on average. So, the Germans have found a unique way of tackling lies with this proverb.

What does it mean?

Lügen haben kurze Beine (which sounds like this) literally translates to ‘lies have short legs’. In English you might say: ‘the truth will out’ or ‘lies won’t get you far’.

This proverb was reportedly first found in a German dictionary as early as 1663. As you might expect, this saying is based on the idea that someone with shorter legs can’t run super fast – the metaphor being that a lie won’t escape, it will be found out.

The moral of the story is that honesty is the best policy because nothing can run away from the truth. This symbolic proverb is taught to many German children by their parents. 

But what about white lies? In German, they are pleasingly called Notlüge (emergency lies) and we all know that sometimes not telling the whole truth is appropriate or needed in certain social situations. We’ll look at this in more detail in a future word of the day. 

Use it like this:

Irgendwann wird er mein Geheimnis entdecken, denn Lügen haben kurze Beine.

At some point he will discover my secret, because the truth will out. 

Lügen haben kurze Beine, vor allem im Internet.

Lies can’t get far, especially on the internet.

Ich rate Ihnen, heute die Wahrheit zu sagen. Lügen haben kurze Beine.

I advise you to tell the truth today. Lies won’t travel far. 

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