German word of the day: Digga

This popular slang salutation has its origins in one German film.

German word of the day: Digga

What does it mean?

Digga is simply word you use when addressing a friend, like “mate”, “dude” or “bro”. It’s older variation, Dicker, technically means “fat guy” but the most common use if the term has nothing to do with weight. 

What is its origin?

Digga comes from Dicker, which is a very popular piece of slang originating from Hamburg. The exact origins of Dicker are said to trace back to the late 60s and early 70s; its first recorded use as an informal salutation was in Klaus Lemke’s 1972 film Rocker.

The most plausible theory is that it started off as a pet name used by Hamburg dock workers, most likely to describe “dicke Freunde” (literally meaning fat friends, but actually meaning close friends).

Dicker became popular through the Hamburg Hip-Hop movement during the 90s, mainly due to artists like die Absolute Beginner, Eins Zwo and Ferris MC frequently using the word. As the word spread throughout Germany, alternate spellings popped such as Digger and Digga, on the account that the “-ck” sound is similar to “-gg” when rapped quickly. The same is true for the “-er” and “-a” sounds. 

Ferris MC, singer of German Hip-Hop Electro band Deichkind, performing on stage in Basel in 2016. Photo: DPA

The Digga form is most popular than other spelling variations in Berlin, which is somewhat surprising as the hip-hop scenes of Berlin and Hamburg were originally somewhat hostile-minded towards one another.

SEE ALSO: A controversial rap: How German hip-hop continues to build and burn bridges 

How is it used?

As it is very much a part of German slang, its use is quite informal. You will most likely hear it being used (or use it yourself) as a greeting.

Digga is used throughout Germany, but particularly in Berlin. It is most popular with teenagers and younger adults. It’s use is frequent in German rap, or Deutschrap

Uses of Digga:

Was geht, Digga?

What's up, bro?

Digga, hast du später Zeit oder nicht ?

Bro, do you have time later or not?

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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.