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GERMAN WORD OF THE DAY

German word of the day: Das Sprudelwasser

In times of climate change, reducing carbon dioxide and plastic bottles is a big topic. But this could be a sore spot for many Germans.

German word of the day: Das Sprudelwasser
A woman in Berlin quenches her thirst with Sprudelwasser on a sunny day. Photo: DPA

That's because Germans love bubbles in their water.

Sprudelwasser has many other names in German: Mineralwasser, Sprudel or Selters. All of those mean the same thing: Sparkling water.

Sprudel is an onomatopoeic word and describes the sound that sparkling water makes when you fill it into a glass. Mineralwasser, meanwhile, translates to “mineral water.”

But Selters is a different case. Back in the days it described sparkling water as well, nowadays it is protected and may just be used only for a water brand called Selters.

Still, in the colloquial language, some parts of Germany use it to describe the carbonated drink.

Sprudelwasser has been around for a long time: In the early 19th century, a watchmaker names Jacob Schweppe developed a way of aerating water with carbon dioxide to make it fizzy.

That technique became popular very quickly, as the carbon dioxide keeps water fresh – back then drinking water wasn’t always clean and safe to consume.

His technique is still used to this day and the name Schweppe can be found on a brand of tonic water, bitter lemon and ginger ale.

But if you're thinking about climate change, the consumption of Sprudelwasser in Germany can be a problem.

It is the most popular non-alcoholic drink in Germany – in 2015, every German citizen consumed some 147 litres of the fizzy drink.

But fizzy water doesn’t come from the tap, and not many people own a device to make their own. Hence, people usually buy Sprudelwasser at the shops.

And because glass bottles are too heavy, they usually buy plastic bottles. And even though most of these can be brought back to the shop and recycled (because of Germany’s Pfandsystem), it’s still a huge amount of plastic.

So if you live in Germany and are a big fan of Sprudel, maybe consider buying a soda maker – it really makes a difference.

Examples:

Sprudelwasser stillt den Durst viel besser als stilles Wasser.

Carbonated water quenches my thirst much better than still water.

Ich mag kein Sprudelwasser, es ist mir zu sauer.

I don’t like carbonated water; it’s too sour for me.

Sprudelwasser schmeckt gut mit einem Schuss Zitronensaft.

Carbonated water tastes great if you add some lemon.

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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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