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LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

German word of the day: Der Kaffeeklatsch

Did you know Thursday October 1st was International Coffee Day? Today’s word of the day will give you an excuse to carry on the celebrations.

German word of the day: Der Kaffeeklatsch
Meeting up for coffee is the perfect excuse to catch up on the latest gossip. Photo: DPA

As the days get shorter and the cold weather begins to bite, a cosy catch up with friends over a warm cappuccino and a slice of cake sounds more and more appealing. 

The tradition of afternoon Kaffee und Kuchen (coffee and cake) has long been an integral part of German culture. 

READ ALSO: Kaffee und Kuchen: The history behind a very German tradition

Germans love it so much, in fact, that they have a specific word dedicated for this sort of gathering. 

Kaffeeklatsch, which translates as ‘coffee chatter’, refers to those afternoon coffee breaks spent with loved ones or colleagues, often accompanied by sweet treats and a warm, friendly atmosphere. 

The word Klatsch is particularly apt for these sorts of get-togethers: it has the specific meaning of ‘small talk’ or ‘tittle-tattle’, and dates back to the Middle Ages.

The original place to exchange the latest gossip was not a café, but rather by the local river or creek. 

Women would take their dirty clothes to be washed in the water, and dish some dirt about the latest happenings in the village while they were at it.  

READ ALSO: How to enjoy coffee with a German kick

Washing clothes back then involved smacking the linen against rocks to remove stains. The rather German verb klatschen, meaning (rather onomatopoeically) to smack, eventually developed to refer to all the gossip that was taking place during the act. 

By the 17th and 18th centuries, many (upper class) ladies had switched the creek for the coffee salon or the drawing room, exchanging rumours over coffee and cake. 

Whilst times have changed since then, the topics of conversation at a typical Kaffeeklatsch remain very similar. 

Caffeine-fuelled nattering about friends, family members, neighbours, potential love interests and a wide array of other things is still a beloved way to while away those afternoon hours. 

Example Sentences: 

Was hast du heute Nachmittag vor? 

Ich treffe mich mit meinen Freundinnen zum Kaffeeklatsch.

What are you up to this afternoon?

I’m meeting up with my friends for a spot of coffee.

Bei einem Kaffeeklatsch wird über Wichtiges und Unwichtiges diskutiert.

No topic is off limits when people meet up for a coffee. 

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GERMAN WORD OF THE DAY

German word of the day: Isso

Perhaps you've seen this word on social media and you're not sure what it means. Let us explain...

German word of the day: Isso

Why do I need to know isso?

Because it’s a nice colloquial expression to use if you’re feeling a little lazy since it combines a few words. It was also one of Germany’s favourite youth words back in 2016, although it’s definitely not particularly cool anymore and is used by all ages

What does it mean?

Isso is derived from the statement: ist so (short for es ist so) meaning ‘it’s like this’ or ‘it is so’ in English. When used as a response to someone’s statement, it usually means you completely agree. A good translation is: ‘right on!’, yes, that’s exactly right!’ or ‘it’s true!’.

You can also use the expression yourself to emphasise your thought. In this case you’d add it on at the end of your sentence. You often find isso used on Twitter, when someone is quoting a Tweet.

It can also be used in a more downbeat form accompanied by the shrugging of your shoulders. In this case you’re saying isso, because it can’t be helped, it’s the way it is. 

Use it like this: 

– Wir müssen gegen steigende Mietpreise in Berlin demonstrieren.

– Isso! 

– We have to protest against rising rents in Berlin. 

– That’s exactly right!

Frauen sind die besten Autofahrer, isso!

Women are the best drivers, it’s true.

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