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LEARNING GERMAN

German word of the day: Der Frühlingsanfang

Spring has sprung and so has our word of the day.

German word of the day: Der Frühlingsanfang
Photo: depositphotos

Der Frühlingsanfang is one of those longer German words that prove that you can basically combine an arbitrary number of words and create one long super word.

Translated, it means “The beginning of spring.” It consist of the words Frühling (“spring”) and Anfang (“beginning.”)

Frühling has been used since the 15th century. Before that, Frühling has been called Lenz (which comes from the old German word for March – Lenzing). It is created by combining the adjective früh with the ending –ling.

Früh comes from the Mid High German word vrüe(je) and the Old High German word fruoji, which both translates to “early.” –Ling is a so-called derivational morpheme, which is basically used to create a new word out of an old one. In this case, it makes the adjective früh become the noun Frühling.

Anfang or Beginn is one of the older German words as we know it, and has been used since the 9th century. It has its roots in the Old High German anafang and the Mid High German an(e)vanc, which both means “beginning.”

So if you need a break after this linguistic digression, how about a little walk to enjoy the Frühlingsanfang outside in all its new colours and scents?

A photo of the official 'Frühlingsanfang' in Brandenburg on March 20th. Photo: DPA

Examples:

Der Frühlingsanfang war dieses Jahr am 20. März.

March 20th marked this year’s beginning of spring.

Meine Stimmung hebt sich jedes Jahr zum Frühlingsanfang.

My mood rises at the beginning of spring each year.

Zum Frühlingsanfang blühen immer so schöne Blumen.

Beautiful flowers bloom at the beginning of spring.

Do you have a favourite word you'd like to see us cover? If so, please email our editor Rachel Stern with your suggestion.

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GERMAN WORD OF THE DAY

German word of the day: Umstritten

Not everyone agrees on everything - and there are some things almost nobody can agree on. If you find yourself dealing with the latter, you may need to make use of this German word.

German word of the day: Umstritten

Why do I need to know umstritten?

Because umstritten is a handy word that can be applied to multiple situations, but is especially useful when chatting about current affairs or the big social issues of our day. 

You’ll likely come across it while reading articles in German newspapers, or hear your German friends use it while setting the world to rights in the pub. 

What does it mean?

Umstritten is best translated as “controversial” or “disputed” in English. As usual in German, you can easily work out – and remember – what it means by breaking it down into smaller components. 

The first is the prefix um, which tends to mean “around”. Think of German words like umkehren, which means to turn around or reverse, or umarmen, which means to put your arms around someone (or hug them in other words!). 

The second component is the verb streiten, which means to argue. So something that’s umstritten is something that there are lots of arguments around, like a controversial new law, a social debate or a public figure. 

Use it like this: 

Die Pläne der Regierung waren hoch umstritten.

The government’s plans were highly controversial. 

Sein Erbe als Fußballtrainer ist immer noch umstritten.

His legacy as football manager is still disputed today. 

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