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LEARNING GERMAN

German word of the day: Fernprost!

Though usually used with friends in bars or restaurants, the Fernprost has come into its own in the era of the Zoom call.

German word of the day: Fernprost!
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

An exclamation combining ‘fern’ (far) and ‘Prost’ (the German word for cheers), Fernprost is used when it is not quite possible to clink your beers together at the table. The term Prost itself, or in full ‘Prosit’ comes from the Latin verb ‘prodesse’, meaning to agree with. 

Used in the subjunctive, the expression literally means ‘may it agree with you!’.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: The ultimate A-Z guide of German coronavirus terms

Germans are often quite insistent that everyone’s glasses touch during a round of cheers and so have invented a new word for situations where someone is just out of reach. Though you may have heard this shouted by groups of locals in bars and restaurants, stretching their arms across a table to try to reach a friend’s drink, the term has taken on a whole new meaning during the pandemic. 

Now that most toasts are happening at a distance of 1.5 metres, or in front of our laptop screens, the Fernprost has become something of a necessity and the term is more likely to evoke images of a bottle held up to a webcam than an outstretched hand in a bar. 

A cheerful ‘Prost!’ at the beginning of a dinner or meet-up is so embedded in the German drinking culture that the socially-distanced Fernprost has become a routine part of virtual events during the upheaval of lockdown. 

A faraway cheers may seem bittersweet for many Germans, for whom an evening spent drinking beer with friends was such a core part of the social culture. Many will be longing to once again hear the sound of glasses clinking together in a crowded bar or Biergarten. 

Examples:

Es ist immer noch möglich, sich mit Teamkollegen zum Feierabendbierchen zu treffen, zwar mit Fernprost. 

It is still possible to meet up with colleagues for an after work beer, just with a long-distance cheers. 

Ich kann dich nicht erreichen, du bist zu weit weg. Fernprost! 

You are too far away, I can’t reach you. Cheers from afar!

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GERMAN WORD OF THE DAY

German phrase of the day: Auf dein Nacken

Get to know this colloquial phrase and use it with your German friends.

German phrase of the day: Auf dein Nacken

Why do I need to know auf dein Nacken?

This is the kind of phrase you’ll never find in a German textbook, but you might hear it in the wild so it’s good to learn it for informal situations. 

What does it mean?

The phrase auf dein Nacken! literally translates to on your neck and means something like ‘this is on you’ or ‘Your treat’ or ‘you pay’. You can also use it on yourself with mein/meinen Nacken which then means: ‘this is on me’, ‘my treat’ or ‘I got this’. 

You can use this expression in the context of paying for something, for example when the bill comes in a restaurant or if it’s your round at the pub you might hear this from friends. 

However, the phrase can also mean something like: ‘I’ll do it’ or ‘I’ll handle it’ so it doesn’t just have to apply to money situations. In this context, it’s more about when someone takes the lead on something. 

A group of friends clink beers in Leer, Lower Saxony.

The German expression “auf dein Nacken” is used among friends. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Lars Klemmer

For the eagle-eyed among you, you’ll notice that the grammar of this phrase isn’t technically correct. It should be: auf deinEN Nacken. 

The imperfect grammar represents the origins of the phrase, which comes from young people speaking and chatting on social media or text.

However, sometimes when people use it to apply to themselves, they use the correct grammar: Auf meinen Nacken. But it can be shortened too. Basically, don’t worry too much about grammar rules on this one and just go with the flow!

The phrase has become more mainstream after it was a runner up in the German Youth Word of the Year 2018.  

READ ALSO: What are the meanings behind Germany’s youth words of the year?

Keep in mind that this expression is for use with your good friends, not with your German boss (unless you’re on very friendly terms).

Use it like this: 

– Hey, hast du Bock auf Binge-Watching Netflix mit Sushi?

Auf dein Nacken oder wie?

– Hey, are you up for binge-watching Netflix with sushi?”

– Your treat or what?

If you want to use the expression yourself, you can easily integrate it into an informal conversation over text. For instance, if you are taking on a bill or a task, write: Auf meinen Nacken and everyone will know that you are performing the action, paying for something or taking the lead.

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