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Living in Germany: Corona chaos, Denglisch and festival for onions

From the rise of Denglisch, life with the coronavirus and Germans' love for a certain root vegetable, here's the latest Living in Germany members newsletter from the team at The Local Germany.

Living in Germany: Corona chaos, Denglisch and festival for onions
The Weimar 'Zwiebelmarkt' took place this October with over 75,000 participants.

Each week the team at The Local Germany sends out a weekly members' newsletter looking at some of the quirks, perks and big issues for people living in the country. Here's the latest round-up and remember to get in touch if you spot anything that we should write about.

Denglisch – a mix of Deutsch and English – is heard with growing frequency among Germans, especially in areas with a lot of young people. To express their approval, it’s typical to hear any German under 40 proclaim “Nice!” So it’s little surprise that the German youth word of the year was taken from English, as this Tweet points out.

According to the linguist quoted in the article, young people use words like Lost, the 2020 winner, to set themselves apart from the older generation. Sometimes they also just want to sound cool (which, by the way, is a word you’ll hear as often as its German equivalents of geil or genial). 

‘Corona chaos’

Coronavirus cases around Germany are rising again, now with dozens of areas across the country declared risk zones with more than 50 infections per 100,000 residents over the last seven days.

In response, several of Germany’s 16 states have been enforcing their own bans, whether not allowing travellers from ‘hot spots’ to stay at hotels there or enforcing curfews for bars and restaurants.

Yet the rules are far from standard across the country, leading to what many have dubbed ‘corona chaos’, as residents are unsure what exactly applies to them.

Several states have issued emergency court orders against the new regulations, whether Saxony stating that the ban on accommodation no longer applies, or Berlin overturning its curfew on bars and restaurants after 11 pm.

In both cases, local courts ruled that such blanket bans go against the constitutional right of freedom of movement, and that outbreaks are more likely to occur at private gatherings or meat processing facilities.

Where is this?

Photo: DPA

Germany has special seasons for all of its beloved fruits and vegetables, and the Zwiebel (onion) is no exception. Even in corona times, the 367th annual Zwiebelmarkt took place in Weimar, Thuringia with some 75,000 masked participants.

On the second weekend of every October, the festival sells nearly every type of onion to emerge from German soil, as well as a delicious array of treats, including the classic Zwiebelkuchen.

Sold throughout Germany every autumn with several regional variations, the core recipe usually consists of flour, butter, cheese, bacon and of course a hearty helping of the namesake root vegetable.

Did you know that?

On October 15th, 1844, German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche was born in Röcken, Saxony in former Prussia. His work would go on to have a profound impact on modern intellectual history through his explorations of ‘herd mentality’ and organised religion, among several other still timely-topics.

A true Wunderkind, Nietzsche was the youngest person to hold the Chair of Classical Philology at the University of Basel, at the age of 24.

Some of the world’s best known philosophers have come from Germany, including Martin Heidegger, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel and Karl Marx, just to name a few. The latter’s home city of Trier recently installed traffic lights with his cartoon figure lit up in green and red.

Have your say

Reader Chris Stewart, 26, wrote to us to share an experience he says has become typical for him living in Berlin: being discriminated against as a foreigner. Covid-19 has only exacerbated the problem, said the Canadian who has lived in the German capital for over four years.

He recalled the following incident this week:  

“I tried calling my local doctor's office to ask if I could get an appointment for a COVID test done or to just have a doctor see me because I'm sick. They said, no, don't come to the office if I'm sick, it's too much of a risk… and that I should try calling the Berlin COVID Hotline. 

So I did that…and waited on hold for 30 minutes before someone picked up.”

Yet when Stewart asked the doctor in German if he could speak slowly, “he said “Nein,” and hung up on me. 

This is not the first time in my four years that a service employee has hung up on me rather than attempt to speak slowly.”

Have you faced similar encounters when dealing with German bureaucracy? We’d like to hear your experiences and frustrations for a future article.


Member comments

  1. I have Been hung up on anytime i try to speak German with someone on the Phone – doctor, banks, police
    .. You Name it. I once Was told why dont you move back to your country since you dont know Our languague. This can be so Frustrating and discouraging. Couple months ago, had to call the Senate to speak with a man who is in Charge of the Native English Speaker Programm his responsibility is to help English speaking Teachers to adjust to Querensteiger i spoke with him in German until i asked can you speak English with me, He said nö sorry my english is Very Bad in german. Deutsch bank just hung up each time. I tried to attempt Gernan. Now they have an English Hotline. When applying for arbeitlosgeld got hung up on at least 3 times before finally reaching soneone who wouldnt hang up on me.

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REVEALED: The most commonly asked questions about Germans and Germany

Ever wondered what the world is asking about Germany and the Germans? We looked at Google’s most searched results to find out – and help clear some of these queries up.

Hasan Salihamidzic, the sports director of FC Bayern, arrives with his wife at Oktoberfest in full traditional dress. Photo: picture alliance/dpa |

According to popular searches, Germany is the go-to place for good coffee and bread (although only if you like the hard kind) and the place to avoid if what you’re looking for is good food, good internet connection and low taxes. Of course, this is subjective; some people will travel long stretches to get a fresh, hot pretzel or a juicy Bratwurst, while others will take a hard pass.

When it comes to the question on the bad Internet – there is some truth to this. Germany is known for being behind other rich nations when it comes to connectivity. And from personal experience, the internet connection can seem a little medieval. The incoming German coalition government has, however, vowed to improve internet connectivity as part of their plans to modernise the country.

There are also frequent questions on learning the German language, and people pointing out that it is hard and complicated. This is probably due to the long compound words and its extensive grammar rules, however, as both English and German are Germanic languages with similar words in common, it’s not impossible to learn as an English-speaker.

Here’s a look at some of those questions…

Why is German called Deutsch? Whereas ‘German’ comes from the Latin, ‘Deutsch’ instead derives itself from the Indo-European root “þeudō”, meaning “people”. This slowly became “Deutsch” as we know it today. It can be a bit confusing to English-speakers, who are right to think it sounds a little more like “Dutch”, however the two languages do have the same roots which may explain it.

And why is Germany so boring? Again, probably a generalisation, especially given that Germany has a landmass of over 350,000 km² with areas ranging from high rise, industrial cities to traditional old town villages and even mountain ranges, so you’re sure to find a place that doesn’t bore you to tears.

Perhaps it is a question that comes from the stereotype that Germans are obsessed with being strict about rules, organised and analytical. Or that they have no sense of humour – all of these things being not the most exciting traits. 

Either way, from my experience I can confirm that, even though there is truth to German society enjoying order and rules, the vast majority of people are not boring, and I’m sure if you come to Germany you’ll meet many interesting, funny and exciting people. 

READ ALSO: 12 mistakes foreigners make when moving to Germany

When it comes to the German weather, most people assume a cold and cloudy climate, however this isn’t entirely true. While the autumn and winter, especially in the north, come with grey skies and sub-zero temperatures, Germany can have some beautiful summers, with temperatures frequently rising above 30C in some places.

Unsurprisingly, the power and wealth of the German nation is mentioned – Germany is the largest economy in Europe after all, with a GDP of 3.8 trillion dollars. This could be due to strong industry sectors in the country, including vehicle constructions (I was a little surprised to find no questions posed on German cars), chemical and electrical industry and engineering. There are also many strong economic cities in Germany, most notably Munich, Frankfurt am Main and Hamburg.

READ ALSO: Eight unique words and phrases that tell us something about Germany

Smart and tall?

Why are Germans so tall? They are indeed taller than many other nations, with the average German measuring a good 172.87cm (or 5 feet 8.06 inches), however this may be a question better posed to the Dutch, who make up the tallest people in the world.

Why are Germans so smart? While this is again a generalisation – as individuals have different levels of intelligence in all countries – this question may stem from Germany’s free higher education system or their seemingly efficient work ethic. Plus there does seem to be some scientific research behind this question, with a study done in 2006 finding that Germans had the highest IQ in Europe.

So, while many of the questions posed about Germany and Germans on Google stem from stereotypes, we can confirm that some aren’t entirely made up. If you’re looking to debunk some frequently asked questions about France and the French, check out this article by our sister site HERE.