German phrase of the day: Alles hat ein Ende, nur die Wurst hat zwei

In classic German fashion, this phrase combines melancholic advice about endings with a punchline on processed meat.

German phrase of the day: Alles hat ein Ende, nur die Wurst hat zwei
Photo: Francesco Ungaro / Unsplash + Nicolas Raymond / flickr

Why do I need to know alles hat ein Ende, nur die Wurst hat zwei?

In English, it’s fairly common to hear the phrase “everything comes to an end”. It’s a phrase you’ll often see spring up in various inspirational quotes, such as the Buddha’s “Everything that has a beginning, has an ending. Make your peace with that and all will be well.” This can mean the end of both good and bad things – a tough year, a good book, or (if you’re feeling particularly morbid) even life itself. 

Given the serious conversations this phrase can come up in, you probably wouldn’t expect a follow up line about a sausage – but if there is one thing I have learned about the German language and its many obscure phrases, it is to expect the unexpected, as well as the unexplainable.

What does it mean?

The phrase alles hat ein Ende, nur die Wurst hat zwei translates into English as “everything has an end, only the sausage has two”, and means exactly what you think it means: it serves to lighten the conversation, although hopefully you won’t hear (or say) this phrase after any truly serious announcement. The saying uses a neat little bit of word play, since ein Ende can mean both “an end” and “one end”, allowing for the punchline that a sausage has two ends, rather than one.

READ ALSO: The seven best and seven ‘wurst’ German dishes

It’s difficult to say exactly when this phrase was invented (it might even date back to an English play from 1607, ‘The Knight of the Burning Pestle’, which features the line “Although, as writers say, all things have end, and that we call a pudding hath his two”, with ‘pudding’ meaning a sausage).

The credit for its mainstream use, however, goes to the German singer Stephan Remmler, who released the song “alles hat ein Ende nur die Wurst hat zwei” in 1986 (this performance is well worth the watch – we’ve embedded the video below). The song tells the story of a man, Krause, who decides to leave his partner, Ruth. He consoles her, telling her that everything must come to an end eventually – except sausages, of course, which have two! By the end of the song, though, it is Krause who needs consolation: he decides to win Ruth back, only to find that she is seeing someone else, forcing him to recognise the end of their relationship for what it is – the end.

Use it like this: 

Ich will nicht, dass dieses Buch zu Ende ist.

Aber es muss ein Ende haben! Alles hat ein Ende, nur die Wurst hat zwei

I don’t want this book to end.

But it has to end! Everything has an end, only the sausage has two!

Alles hat ein Ende

Nee, weil eine Wurst zwei hat!

Everything has an end

No, because a sausage has two!

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German word of the day: Umgangssprache

This is a good word to be aware of when you're looking out for phrases to add to your everyday vocabulary in Germany.

German word of the day: Umgangssprache

Why do I need to know Umgangssprache?

We may be getting a little meta here, but we think it’s worth knowing this word so you can listen out for the words around it (or know when not to use this type of language).

What does it mean?

Umgangssprache, which sounds like this, means ‘colloquial language’ or ‘slang’. These are the kinds of words and phrases you might not find in a textbook, but they are heard in everyday life.

By using slang vocabulary, you’ll be able to bring your sentences to life and sound like a true local.

The term is said to have been introduced into the German language by the writer and linguist Joachim Heinrich Campe at the beginning of the 19th century.

Umgangssprache is shaped by the world around it, whether its regional factors or social circumstances of the time. 

Here are a few examples of colloquial phrases and words:

Geil means horny in German, but it is also used colloquially to describe anything you think is cool. In English, you might use the word ‘sick’ or ‘awesome’ in the same context.

Krass is another colloquial word that can mean lots of things. It is usually used to intensify the meaning of something very bad or something very good depending on the tone and context. So something disgusting is krass, and something amazing can also be krass

Das ist mir Wurst translates to ‘that’s sausage to me’, and means you don’t give a toss. 

Das ist doch Käse translates to ‘that’s cheese’ and expresses that you mean something is absolute nonsense. 

And a ruder one is: Das ist am Arsch der Welt. It means ‘that’s the arse of the world’ and refers to a place that is far away or very difficult to reach. In English you might say ‘back of beyond’. 

You would hear these kinds of phrases in relaxed conversations in cafes and bars, but they aren’t so common in formal situations. 

Use it like this:

Ist das Umgangssprache oder kann ich das bei meinem Chef benutzen?

Is that colloquial language or can I use it with my boss?

Mir gefällt die umgangssprachliche Floskel: auf dein Nacken!

I really like the colloquial phrase ‘this is on you!’