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German word of the day: Quatsch

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German word of the day: Quatsch
Photo: Depositphotos
09:54 CET+01:00
How would you describe that constant chatter a child makes at the dinner table? The meaningless conversation that fills a Sunday afternoon? The silly and false things that some people say?

“Quatsch” is a German word that can be used to describe all those things and more. It comes from the verb “quatschen,” which means to “talk nonsense.”

It likely originated in the 16th century as a word that mimics a sound. In this case, the word was based on the sound that one makes when tramping through soft or mushy dirt with exceptional force. 

It’s easy enough to imagine: slosh, slosh, quatsch, quatsch… Just like stomping through mushy dirt with too much force, “quatschen” is to talk about something silly or nonsensical. 

“Quatsch” can refer to something silly or something that is not worth one’s time or attention. It can also refer to something that the listener finds to be wrong, unreasonable, or simply stupid. 

“Quatsch” is used colloquially in many different ways.  This is the expression a person might make when hearing 'Quatsch'. Photo: Depositphotos/kues

Here are a few of my favorite examples: 

As a way to describe silly speech, as from a child or a gossip session with friends.

Du erzählst immer Quatsch. 

You are always narrating silliness. 

This is my personal favourite, since I have heard it most often sitting around the dinner table with my German host family and their young son. 

While he behaves very well for most of the meal, there is always a point where he gives in to speaking his own made up language or describes something directly from his imagination. 

It is at this point that his parents always tell him that he is always speaking nonsense. I remember this being a huge relief to me when I first began learning German, since I thought that what he was saying was supposed to make sense! 

As an interjection. 

Quatsch! 

Nonsense! 

Sometimes during heated conversations—whether about Fußball or politics—individuals might ‘call Quatsch’ on their friends. If something is extremely ridiculous, you might even hear Quatsch mit Soße!, nonsense with sauce!

To correct oneself. 

Ich habe Deutsch für drei, Quatsch, vier Jahren gelernt.

I’ve been learning German for three, no, four years. 

 

 
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Phil_Weimar - 14 Nov 2019 14:55
My German father-in-law always emphasised this word with a slight pause in the middle: Q_uatsch!!!
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