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LEARNING GERMAN

Nine expressions that perfectly sum up spring in Germany

As the days get warmer and the streets are awash with bright green foliage and cherry blossom, there are a few German words and expressions that you may find handy this season.

Daffodils bloom near Tegernsee in Bavaria.
Daffodils bloom near Tegernsee in Bavaria. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sven Hoppe

German is not an easy language; most people agree about that. However, what many people don’t know (or will only learn once they start learning German) is how amazingly specific it can be.

German speakers have words for all sorts of things, and the way they form their vocabulary is also quite interesting.

As spring gets underway (finally!) and temperatures rise all over Europe, there are certainly a few words and expressions that will be very useful during the coming months.

Like in every language, some idioms shouldn’t be literally translated – but we will do it just for the fun of it. After all, it’s fun sometimes to understand only train station.*

READ ALSO: These eight words show just how different German and Austrian Deutsch can be

Here are a few expressions and words that you will probably hear, or might even incorporate, in the following months:

Sauheiß or Affenhitze

Sauheiß is literally “pig hot”, and Affenhitze would be “monkey heat”.

Both can be used for that extreme heat that is becoming ever more common during European summers.

Das Kaiserwetter

Literally, the “Emperor weather”, or something like a weather fit for an Emperor. Usually, they use that for those days when the sun is shining bright, and the skies are cloudless blue.

READ ALSO: Frosty German sayings that’ll make you a winter wordsmith

Some say the idiom comes from Austria. Emperor Franz Josef had an August summer birthday and enjoyed sunny birthdays.

Etwas Sonne tanken

To fuel up with the sun. It is a very typical sentence, especially by the end of summer days, as winter looms closer and Austrians, Germans, and Swiss know that they need to “stock up” in that summer feeling to face the cold and dark days (weeks and months) ahead.

Es gibt kein schlechtes Wetter, es gibt nur falsche Kleidung

This is a very typical expression and a life lesson, really. It means “there is no bad weather, only wrong clothes” and it’s usually said during winter and cold days.

The life lesson could also be employed during summer – at least to a certain degree, unless you go for the FKK (frei korper kultur), of course.

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

Die Sonne lacht

Literally means the sun is smiling or laughing, and it’s used for when the sun is shining. A less sweet version would be “Die Sonne scheint” (the sun is shining). 

Badewetter

When the weather is hot and sunny as well, there are few things Germans like to do more than take a dip in an idyllic lake or even (for the brave) the North or Baltic Sea.

No matter what part of Germany you find yourself in, there are bound to be at least a few beautiful lakes nearby that are perfect for swimming, complete with options of fun waterslides for kids and artificial beaches. The many public pools and parks options also allow for fantastic swimming opportunities for the city dwellers, so don’t miss out when it’s Badewetter (swimming/beach weather).

READ ALSO: The five best Bavarian lakes for a spring day trip

April April, der macht was er will

Watch out for those days when sun and rain take turns for hours on end, or when it’s the middle of April, and it just starts snowing. This is when Austrians will typically shrug and say: April, April, it does what it wants to.

A man takes a nap on the riverbank of the Tegernsee

A man takes a nap on the riverbank of the Tegernsee in Bavaria. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sven Hoppe

Auf der Sonnenseite des Lebens stehen

This literally means “to be on the sunny side of life” and is used to say that someone has a nice life – who wouldn’t when standing in a sunny place?

Geh mir aus der Sonne!

Finally, a good expression for those tired of being bothered by someone else. After all, nobody wants to share the sun with an annoyance – or find that same annoyance casting a shadow over their sun-lounger. It means something like “get out of my sun” and is used in the same way as “get out of my face”.

READ ALSO: Why traditional German names are often used as insults

*Ich verstehe nur Bahnhof is a very famous German idiom that is literally translated as “I understand only train station”. It means “I don’t understand a single thing”.

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LEARNING GERMAN

Six German expressions to entice your Wanderlust

The German word 'Wanderlust' means "the desire to travel" and is used even in other languages. Here are some of the other words commonly used in Germany to describe the nation's love affair with travelling.

Six German expressions to entice your Wanderlust

Germans are very connected to nature and a lot of the activities they routinely do, even in winter, involve staying outdoors. So it’s no wonder the language also reflects that passion for walking, travelling, and spending time in nature.

Some of the German words that are most famous to speakers of other languages reference this passion. Perhaps most notably, the term “Wanderlust” which has made its way to other dictionaries, including Merriam-Webster, with the definition “a strong longing for or impulse toward wandering”.

The word is composed of “wandern“, which means to hike or roam about and “lust“, meaning “pleasure or delight”.

READ ALSO: Holiday like a local: Five of the best camping regions in Germany

This is not the only unique expression the German language has related to travelling. Another of the hard to translate ones is “Fernweh“. It comes from “fern“, meaning “far”, and “Weh“, meaning “pain”. It is used to describe the longing for far-off places – in contrast to “Heimweh”, a feeling many immigrants might be very attuned to and could be translated to homesickness.

The German language also has several interesting and even funny expressions for walkers and travellers alike. The Local talked with German teacher and travel enthusiast Lutz Michaelis to collect a few of the best expressions.

“So weit dich deine/mich meine Füße tragen”

It literally means “as far as my feet will take me” (or alternatively, “as far as your feet will take you”). It is often said as an answer to the question, “where are you going?”.

READ ALSO: Waldeinsamkeit: Five of the best forest walks around Berlin

“Die Sieben-Meilen-Stiefel anhaben”

“To wear the seven-league boots”. This means being able to walk long distances fast. Lutz explains that it was actually based on a trope in French mythology, in which magical boots could help the wearer cover long distances in a short amount of time. Having been used in The Little Thumb by Charles Perrault, the term was brought into the German language by writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

“Wer rastet, der rostet”

The translation would be “he who rests, rusts”. It is used in the German language to say that being in motion is a good thing, not only with travelling but also to incentivise people to keep learning new things.

“Das Reisen kost’t Geld, Doch sieht man die Welt.”

It’s a very common rhyme used to show the downsides and benefits of travelling: “travelling costs money, but one sees the world”.

“Reisende soll man nicht aufhalten.”

It literally means that “travellers shouldn’t be stopped”. However, Lutz explains that the expression is not only used to refer to travellers but also to anyone that might be going through a transitional situation – such as someone wanting to change their jobs, for example.

Rhododendren park Bremen

Rhododendrons bloom in the Rhododendron Park in Bremen. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sina Schuldt

“der Weg ist das Ziel.”

One of the most beautiful ones, and many languages have their own version of it. It translates to “the road is the destination”.

Of course, coming back home, especially for those suffering from Heimweh, can also be something beautiful. One common saying is “Wiedersehen macht Freude“, which means that to meet again brings happiness, used among those looking forward to seeing someone again after a long trip.

READ ALSO: How to explore Germany by train with the €9 ticket

And one more…

In Germany, there is a common joke about finding German people abroad. The rhyme goes “Hüte dich vor Sturm und Wind, und Deutschen, die im Ausland sind“, which could be translated as “Be on your guard for storm and wind, and Germans in a foreign land”.

“It refers both to the bad behaviour of Germans on holidays or travels and a dark joke and a funny nod to the fact that German troops have invaded other countries”, Lutz, who is a German himself, explains.

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