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GERMAN LANGUAGE

10 German words you need to know to keep up with the coalition talks

There's a whole set of German vocabulary you'll need to know if you want to follow the ins and outs of the coalition talks. Here are ten words that can help you impress your friends during your next heated political debate.

10 German words you need to know to keep up with the coalition talks
Traffic Lights outside the German Bundestag. Are you in favour of an Ampel coalition? Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Julian Stratenschulte

1. (die) Sondierungsgespräche

Right now the Sondierungsgespräche – or exploratory talks – are happening between parties. These talks are for the political big-wigs to sound each other out, to see if there is a possibility to work together or if it will be too difficult. It’s basically the talks before the talks. And of course there’s a word for that in German.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about Germany’s upcoming coalition talks

2. (die) Selfie-Sondierung

The very first exploratory talks took place in secret on Tuesday night and caught everyone by surprise. The Greens co-leaders Annalena Baerbock and Robert Habeck, along with the pro-business FDP’s head honchos Christian Lindner and Volker Wissing then almost broke the internet by posting a selfie of the group to each of their Instagram accounts. And that’s why we are including “selfie exploration” as a word you need to know. 

“Jokes or not – the four have achieved what they wanted to achieve with their joint post: to be the talk of the town everywhere,” said Bavarian broadcaster BR24.

“Some even want to recognise a historic moment. Media journalist Stefan Niggemeier says maybe it’s ‘silly to be impressed by such cheap Instagram symbolism, but this still feels like a bigger moment that you’re witnessing here.'”

3. (die) Gesprächsrunde

Formulated with the German word for conservation or discussion (das Gespräch), this is basically a round of talks. A little more substance than the exploratory talks, the round table discussions will involve a bit more thrashing out of the key policy issues, like that niggling question of the Tempolimit on the Autobahn (to speed or not speed – that is the question). We told you this was riveting vocabulary right? 

4. (die) Regierungsbildung

Now that the election is over, the parties have been entrusted with the formation of a government – or Regierungsbildung. 

In this election the two smaller parties – the Greens and the FDP have wasted no time in teaming up in their quest to make a new government. They’re keeping the two bigger parties – the Social Democrats (SPD) and the centre-right CDU/CSU on their toes.

5. (die) Koalitionsverhandlungen

Finally we get to the official coalition negotiations. This is the moment where the finer details will be discussed in preparation for launching a new government partnership. We’re expecting three political parties in the new German government (more on the formations below). As you can imagine, it will take a good bit of time to keep everyone happy in the negotiations. 

Now you can see why it takes months for Germany to form a government.

6. (der) Rücktritt

All is fair in love and war… and politics. And it may come to a point where we see someone having to hand in their resignation – der Rücktritt.

At the time of writing on Friday, there were calls for CDU leader and chancellor candidate Armin Laschet to stand down. A majority of people in Germany believe he should give his resignation, according to a recent poll.

7. Ampelkoalition

Let’s look at those coalition formations starting with the Ampel – or Traffic Light. It’s part of the German obsession with colour-coded politics. 

An Ampelkoalition describes a coalition government led by the SPD (red), with the Greens and the FDP (yellow).

The term Traffic Light coalition originates from Germany and has subsequently been picked up by other countries to describe similar coalitions between social democrats, liberals and green.

A majority of Germans say they want this type of coalition following the election, with the SPD’s Olaf Scholz as chancellor.

READ ALSO: Jamaica or Traffic Light? What’s next for Germany and what does it mean?

8. Jamaika-Koalition

There’s another contender for the hearts of the Greens and the FDP – that’s CDU leader Armin Laschet. He wants to form a coalition with these two parties which would be a Jamaica formation. It has nothing to do with the country. It’s called that because the party colours of black, green and yellow match the Jamaican flag. 

Even though the SPD scooped first place in the election, it’s not inconceivable that the CDU could form a coalition government.

9. Große Koalition (GroKo)

A Große Koalition, or a grand coalition in Germany describes a governing coalition of the two biggest parties in one parliament.

In the caretaker German government, a Große Koalition (GroKo for short) exists between Angela Merkel’s CDU party and the SPD party. But neither side is eager to continue this so you probably don’t need to be talking about this too much at the moment unless you want to declare how annoyed you are at GroKo, or that GroKo is dead which would probably earn you some brownie points among your German friends.  

A guest at the SPD election party in 2017 holds up a 'no more GroKo' sign.
A guest at the SPD election party in 2017 holds up a ‘no more GroKo’ sign. Photo: picture alliance / Christian Charisius/dpa | Christian Charisius

10. bevorzugte Regierungsoption

What is your bevorzugte Regierungsoption – preferred government option?

Are you an Ampel, Jamaika or GroKo kind of person? Or did you have a completely different wish for the next German government? Take your pick and impress your friends with your German current affairs knowledge and vocabulary because who doesn’t love a politics nerd? 

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GERMAN LANGUAGE

10 words to help you enjoy the German summer

Summer has arrived in Germany, so we’ve put together a list of ten words to help you navigate the hottest season.

10 words to help you enjoy the German summer

1. (die) Sommersprossen

A close-up of a woman with prominent freckles.

A close-up of a woman with prominent freckles. Photo: pa/obs/myBody / Shutterstock | Irina Bg

The German word for ‘freckles’, translates literally as “summer sprouts”, as these little spots start to appear on many people’s faces as soon as the sun begins to shine in spring and summer.

2. eincremen

A woman applies sun lotion on a summer's day.

A woman applies sun lotion on a summer’s day. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-tmn | Christin Klose

To help protect against sunburn, it’s important to use a lot of sunscreen during warm summer days in Germany. Thanks to the magic of German separable verbs, there is a specific word for applying creme to the skin – eincremen – which can also be used to talk about applying sun lotion.

Examples:

Den gesamten Körper vor dem Aufenthalt in der Sonne eincremen

Apply creme to the entire body before sun exposure.

Einmal eincremen reicht nicht, um die Haut einen ganzen Tag lang vor Sonne zu schützen.

It’s not enough to apply sun cream just once to protect the skin from the sun for a whole day.

3. (die) Hundstage

A dog lies exhausted on the stones of a terrace in summer temperatures.

A dog lies exhausted on the stones of a terrace in summer temperatures. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Martin Gerten

‘Dog days’ are colloquially referred to in Europe as the hottest period in summer from July 23rd to August 23rd.

The term ‘dog days’ dates back to the 14th century and was originally associated with the first appearance of the star Sirius of the “Great Dog” constellation. However, due to the changing position of the Earth’s axis, the time period has shifted by about four weeks.

Nevertheless, you’ll still hear people all over Germany referring to the “Hundstage.”

4. eisgekühlt

A glass of mineral water with ice and lemon.

A glass of mineral water with ice and lemon. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Daniel Karmann

There’s nothing better than cooling off with a refreshing, ice-cold drink on a hot summer day, so make sure to use this word at the beach bar to specify that you want your drinks at a near-zero temperature!

Examples:

Das Kokoswasser schmeckt am besten eisgekühlt.

The coconut water tastes best ice-cold.

5. (die) Waldbrandstufe

A sign on a forest path indicates forest fire level five.

A sign on a forest path indicates forest fire level five. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-centralpicture | Soeren Stache

The Waldbrandstufe – meaning forest fire level – is a warning system that has been used in all German states since 2014 to indicate the level of forest fire risk, based on the local heat and dryness levels.

Level 1 stands for very low fire risk in forests and level 5 for very high risk. When the Stufe (level) is above 3 or 4, certain measures – such as banning barbecues – will come into force locally.

You will often see the Waldbrandstufe sign in woodland areas, near beaches, or on weather reports over the summer.

Example:

Lagerfeuer werden aufgrund der hohen Waldbrandstufe nicht geduldet.
 
Due to the danger of forest fires campfires will not be tolerated.

6. (der) Strandkorb

Beach chairs stand in sunny weather on the beach in the Baltic resort of Binz on the island of Rügen.

Beach chairs on the beach in the Baltic resort of Binz on the island of Rügen. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Stefan Sauer

The “Strandkorb”, literally meaning beach basket, is a special type of beach chair that you will find on almost every German beach. The traditional beach chair was invented in 1882 by German basket maker Wilhelm Bartelmann in Rostock.

Example:

Hier kannst du in der Ostsee baden oder dich in einem Strandkorb entspannen.

Here you can swim in the Baltic Sea or relax in a beach chair.

7. (die) Radtour

A man and a woman cycle through Lüneburg Heath.

A man and a woman cycle through Lüneburg Heath. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/HeideRegion Uelzen e.V. | Jürgen Clauß, HeideRegion Uelz

Germans love biking, so it’s no surprise that a specific word exists for the summer phenomenon of going on a Radtour – bike tour.

READ ALSO: 10 things to consider for a bike trip in Germany

Example: 

Der gesamte Rundweg ist eine leichte Radtour.
 
The entire circular route is an easy bike ride.

8. Sonne tanken

A man on an air mattress sunbathing on a lake while a model boat passes him by.

A man on an air mattress sunbathing on a lake while a model boat passes him by. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Thomas Warnack

If you love summer, then you probably like to lie in the sun and soak up the rays. In German, you would call this “Sonne tanken” – literally to fuel up on sun.

Example:

Ich will einfach nur Sonne tanken!

I just want to soak up the sun!

9. (die) Sommergewitter

Lightning striking in the Hanover region in June 2021.

Lightning striking in the Hanover region in June 2021. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Julian Stratenschulte

Another very specific word, this term is used to describe the phenomenon of summer thunderstorms.

Example:

Die ersten Sommergewitter rollen quer durch Deutschland.

The first summer thunderstorms are rolling across Germany.

10. (die) Eisdiele

A scoop of strawberry ice cream is placed on top of another scoop in a waffle cone at the "Eiskultur" ice cream parlor in Schöneweide.

A scoop of strawberry ice cream is placed on top of another scoop in a waffle cone at the “Eiskultur” ice cream parlor in Schöneweide. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Jens Kalaene

Finally, no summer would be complete without a generous helping of ice cream. In German, the most common name for an ice-creme parlour is “Eisdiele”. 

The word seems to have joined the German language when the very first ice-creme parlour was opened in Hamburg in 1799.

READ ALSO: Spaghetti ice cream to Wobbly Peter: Why we love Germany’s sweet summer snacks

Example:

Es gibt eine sehr gute Eisdiele an der Promenade.

There is a really good ice-creme parlour on the promenade.

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