At 90+ minutes this is one of the longest stories in the series so far. Join Dino on a strange adventure set in the “Florence on the Elbe”, boost your vocabulary and learn German effortlessly along the way.
Who needs textbooks anyway?
Learn German with Stories: Digital in Dresden (Audiobook)(Preview) - SoundCloud (280 secs long, 135 plays)Play in SoundCloud
Did you know that 100 years ago German spelling was a highly fragmented endeavor? People just spelled how they felt like, and with all the different dialects and varieties that resulted in wildly different outcomes, which made for a lot of misunderstandings.
All of this Schlamassel was fixed by the now-famous teacher Konrad Duden who came up with core spelling principles and guidelines so that people from Munich could finally make sense of their letters from Hamburg, and vice versa. Today his name is synonymous with good German spelling and “der Duden” orthography books have pretty much become the German bible of spelling.
But German spelling is far from being fixed. There have been multiple reforms within the last few decades (last one in 2017) and many spellings I learned in school for example, are now simply wrong:
Confused? It’s understandable. There are a myriad of different rules for German spelling, capitalization, correct comma placement, etc. (core grammar rules aside). While there aren’t as many good resources for German grammar/spelling online as for English, there are a couple of (free) online tools you can use to make the process of writing correct German a little bit easier.
The official online version of the Duden is the authoritative source for looking up spelling variants, conjugations, etc. Sometimes multiple spellings are correct but Duden will show a “empfohlene Schreibung”, i.e. “recommended spelling”.
They will also provide you with good examples and explanations why something is correct or when. The only downside for beginners may be that the website and its explanations are in German.
If you’re checking a ton of words, manually going to Duden.de will be exhausting, so here’s an automated German spellchecker: with LanguageTool you can just run your whole text through more than 2200 error patterns.
It finds even finds (some) grammar mistakes and is compliant with the latest Duden rules. And the best: it’s free (mostly). The LanguageTool spell checker comes in the following versions:
For me, LanguageTool has become an invaluable, well … tool for helping me identify and fix errors faster and more seamlessly. It also works for other languages like English, but it has a specific focus on German.
“I believe German will be our principal language.”
What would you think if heard these words from a Jew today?
It was 123 years ago when Theodor Herzl, the father of Zionism, considered it impossible for Jews to revive the Hebrew language and speak it in everyday life. He hoped that German could substitute this language:
“I draw this conclusion from our most widespread jargon, ‘Judeo-German.’ But over there we shall wean ourselves from this ghetto language, too, which used to be the stealthy tongue of prisoners. Our teachers will see to that.” (June 15, 1895, Diaries, 1: 171)
Back then, they called Hebrew a dead language: it was like Ancient Greek or Latin, used for liturgical goals only. So, what had happened to shatter Herzl’s dream about German as the principal language for Jews?
First, the publication of Mein Kampf happened, leaving the language of Goethe with no chances to rule in Israel.
And second, Eliezer Ben-Yehuda (1858-1922) happened, the first man in the world who spoke Hebrew and used it as his mother tongue in everyday life. He gave it his best to revive this language and make it so popular today.
All heard his story, but far from all viewed it as the key reason why Jews write and speak Hebrew today.
“A Jew, speak Hebrew”
What is the difference between extinct and living languages?
People can understand an extinct language, Latin, Sanskrit, or Coptic, for example, but they don’t speak it. A living language is the one people learn and speak since their childhood.
Yes, many Jews knew Hebrew in times of Ben-Yehuda. But no child pronounced their first words in this language, which made Hebrew more of dead than of alive. To revive it, they needed children who would speak Hebrew at home and school, students who would write essays in Hebrew, writers who would publish books about the history of Jews, and newspapers that would write articles in Hebrew for the language communications.
And that was what Ben-Yehuda did exactly when decided to revive the language. He established a newspaper where shared his experience of using different methods for Hebrew coinage:
He found some in Talmud and Pentateuch.
He used the word-building rules of Semitic languages to create Hebrew words that would describe new concepts.
He borrowed some words from Arabic and Aramaic languages.
He built new language patterns by the rules of Hebrew word formation.
This call and personal contribution of Ben-Yehuda gave birth to numerous organizations created to put the slogan “A Jew, speak Hebrew” into action.
Ben-Yehuda’s contribution to the Hebrew revival says it all:
After he and his wife had decided to communicate in Hebrew at home, their son became the first mother-tongue speaker of this language.
His Academy of the Hebrew Language continues its work today, with the rights to expand lexical and grammar rules of Hebrew.
Thousands of students from all over the world learn Hebrew as a second language. Many people choose courses to learn Hebrew online and understand its basics when traveling to Israel.
Without inventing any artificial rules and acting by the language laws of biblical times, Ben-Yehuda was able to turn Hebrew revival into one of the remarkable sociolinguistic phenomena. Thanks to his endeavors, over five million people write and speak this language today.
You’ve been reading a guest post by Lesley Vos
Lesley lives in Chicago, teaches the French language to high school students, and writes blog posts to On College Life and Writing and publications on career and self-growth. In love with books, jazz, and travels, she was lucky to visit many European countries and fall in love with Ukrainian.
In case you missed it on the newsletter, there’s a brand new Dino lernt Deutsch episode! That’s right, episode 10 is out now and this time Dino is going to Stuttgart, Germany’s 6th largest city, capital of Baden-Württemberg and home to Mercedes-Benz.
Ready for your next German learning adventure?
In this sequel to Digital in Dresden Dino and Elisabeth are invited to a prestigious event, but when nothing goes as planned they find themselves hurled on a strange quest across the valley basin of Stuttgart.
Explore Stuttgart, learn about local culture, history and cuisine, and improve your German effortlessly along the way — in this new set of 10 connected German short stories for beginners.
Daily, Greeks use idiomatic phrases or expressions and you may be surprised when you hear them for the first time. If you literally translate them they do not make much sense! Weird, right? Now, you are thinking… if they don’t make any sense why do Greeks use them and how did they come to be. Well, many of these phrases and expressions can contain a small story aimed at teaching us, imply something that we don’t want to say directly, or help us to express ourselves. Many of these expressions, with roots from Ancient Greece and Byzantium, show us another way of thinking and living.
Let’s see some of them!
1) ‘’ Χτύπα ξύλο’’ (Htipa ksilo- knock wood):
An expression that Greeks use to avoid bad luck or to wish that something won’t happen to them. The story behind this expression goes back to ancient times when people used to believe that nymphs (called ‘Δρυάδες ή Άμαδρυάδες) lived inside trees. People knocked on the trees to invoke the protection of the nymphs.
An example of this expression would be:
– ‘’Πρόσεξε μη χτυπήσεις το πόδι σου!’’
2) ‘’Του έδωσε τα παπούτσια στο χέρι’’ (Tou edose ta papoutsia sto heri- he was given his shoes in hand)
A commonly used phrase for someone who got fired. The phrase seems to derive from a tradition in ancient Babylonia, (adapted in Byzantium) which says that if the king wants to replace or dismiss a lord from his duties, he would send him a pair of shoes with his name underneath.
A relevant expression: “σε γράφω στα παλιά μου τα παπούτσια” (se grafo sta palia mou ta papoutsia- I am writing to you on my old shoes).
This means I am not counting on you, I ignore you, or I am not paying any attention.
Αθώος,-α,-ο =Innocent/ Περιστέρι=pigeon(symbol of purity in Christianity)
An expression that is mainly used ironically for someone who pretends to be innocent, or unaware of something or a situation. An example of this expression would be:
– «Ποιος έσπασε το βάζο;»
-«Ούτε εγώ ξέρω.»
– «Αα, μη μου κάνετε την αθώα περιστερά.»
4) «Απ’ έξω και ανακατωτά»(ap ekso kai anakatota-from outside and mixed)
Are you an expert on something? Do you know something without even forgetting a small detail? If yes, then this is your expression! It’s used when someone knows something very well. It has its roots back in Byzantium, when the children had to learn the alphabet by heart. Their teacher would mix the letters to test them.
5) «Αυτός είναι για τα πανηγύρια»(aftos ine gia ta paniyiria- he is for the festivals»
An expression for someone who behaves inappropriately or who acts out of the commonly accepted norms in a situation.
A relevant expression: “είμαστε για τα πανηγύρια” (imaste yia ta paniyiria- we are for the festivals).
This is used ironically for people who are unaware of the serenity of a situation or in cases where people entertain and ignore what’s really going on.
6) “κάνει την πάπια” (kanei tin papia- makes the duck)
An expression that is used for someone who ignores or pretends to ignore something, a problem, or a difficult situation.
Back in the Byzantium era, the person responsible for all the keys of a palace was called « παπίας-papias». At the time, a person in this position was lying, spying and accusing others of what he had done. At the same time, he denied that he was involved in anything. Then the expression “Are you making/coping papias?” was said in relation to anyone behaving in this way. Nowadays, the expression is known as “kanei tin papia.”
these are just a few of the expressions that Greeks use in daily life.
Now it is your turn!
Let us know which one did you like the most! Or is there any other unknown, funny expressions that you like?
You’ve been reading a guest post by Maria Christoforou
Maria lives in France, speaks English, French and Greek is her native language. She is a qualified teacher and has worked as a primary school teacher in Cyprus and in the United Kingdom, and as a private language tutor giving Greek lessons to both children and adults based on the learner’s needs and interests.
The Vocabulary Builder on Kindle Paperwhite (and Oasis, Voyager) is a powerful feature for language learners if used right. It collects all the words that you look up, including their definition and context. You can then use a rudimentary flashcard system and group them into “learning” and “mastered”. However, for serious spaced repetition practice, the Kindle Vocabulary Builder lacks certain fine-grained controls.
Wouldn’t it be cool if you could just convert your Kindle vocabulary to ANKI or Memrise flashcard format?
Well, you can, thanks to this amazing free service called “Fluentcards”.
Here’s how it works:
1. Collecting Words On Your Vocabulary List
The Kindle vocabulary builder will add any word you look up (long press on it) to you vocabulary list. By default, if you look up English words in an English text it will save the corresponding entry from the English-English dictionary. So, if you’re reading a foreign-language book and want to get, let’s say, German-English vocabulary lists, make sure to select the correct dictionary in your settings.
Settings > Language & Dictionaries > Dictionaries
There you can select which default dictionary you’d like to use for each language. In the following example, I’ve selected the Collins Concise German-English dictionary.
Now that you’ve selected your default dictionary for this language, open your favorite German short story or novel and start looking up words.
2. Exporting Your Vocabulary File
Once you’ve gone through the whole book, story or chapter, we need to get the Kindle vocabulary file onto a computer. To do this, hook your Kindle Paperwhite up to your Mac or Windows machine, open the corresponding disk drive and search for the vocab.db file.
If you can’t see the file, you may have to enable hidden files and folders like this.
3. Converting Your Vocabulary List To ANKI or Memrise
Once you’ve copied the vocab.db file to your computer, go to fluentcards.com/kindle and upload your word list there. Fluentcards will show you a nice gallery of all your books and the words you looked up in each of them. In our example you can see that I’ve looked up 5 words in “Walzer in Wien”:
Once you click on a title you get a complete listing of all the words, their definition (translation) and context:
Now you can simply download this deck in ANKI or Memrise format and use it within your favorite spaced repetition app.
Here’s how it looks in the ANKI app for PC, for example:
By combining the swift collection of vocabulary on your Kindle with ANKI spaced repetition, you got yourself a lean-mean-learning-machine. So far, this feature is only available on (some) physical Kindle ereading devices, but hopefully Amazon will make it available for their Kindle apps on iOS and Android at some point in the future.
One thing about moving to or visiting a new country is that often the culture and customs are different. This means that when communicating with say, a person from Germany, responses and reactions may not be quite what you might expect. Conversely, how you approach others may be perceived as strange and not in keeping with the culture you are visiting. Germans have certain ways of handling situations which aren’t experienced commonly in other countries.
Being direct sometimes offends
Germans, it appears, have some customs that seem unusual, such as they speak more directly about an issue without beating about the bush or trying to cover up what they mean for fear of offending someone. English people tend to be quite the opposite, as soon as they speak in a direct manner about something they are quickly apologising for fear of offending the person they are communicating with. Any sort of directness is all about communicating using as few words as possible. It’s not aimed at being rude.
Reprimanding is often used quite openly
Germany gets many visitors and if someone doesn’t behave themselves according to German cultural norms they won’t let the behaviour persist and will immediately admonish the culprit for the behaviour he or she is displaying.
An example could be a child resting his or her shoes on the opposite seat in a train. If this happens it won’t take long before the child is reprimanded and asked to remove their feet. Generally this tradition of being intolerant is only really present in traditional parts of Germany like Bavaria. Elsewhere and in particular in Berlin this sort of behaviour doesn’t occur with quite such frequency. Jaywalking is another type of behaviour that Germans don’t tolerate. If you are caught doing it very quickly someone will approach you and reprimand you.
Cash is the preferred method of payment
One would have thought that as Germany appears to be a technically savvy place with the number of Audis and high status late models cars being seen everywhere that all their lives would be dominated by the most up to date methods used for everything. This typically isn’t the case and in particular related to the use of credit and debit cards in restaurants. This method of payment still isn’t acceptable and the preferred means of payment is often cash. This often makes it very awkward for an unexpecting visitor who’s only got a card available to pay the bill.
Poor restaurant service
If you haven’t been frightened of visiting a German restaurant after getting caught out without the cash to pay for your meal the slow service may eventually put you off or at times the refusal to provide you with a glass of water when you politely request it and you are told to go to the bathroom and get your own.
Puffing a cigarette inside a public building is still okay
Modern Germany hasn’t gone as far as banning smoking in places frequented by the public, so people invariably light up in bars and restaurants just like they did years ago in other countries. This means non-smoking visitors may return to their hotel rooms with the lingering smell of smoke embedded in their hair and clothes.
Outdated attitude towards migrants
For a very long period of time Turks have found their way to Germany, got jobs and settled down. Unfortunately for them they can’t shrug off their Turkish past too easily as even second and third generation Turkish migrants are still referred to as Turks, not Germans.
How to avoid embarrassing situations when visiting Germany
If you think you are going to visit Germany a lot, or you even have a job fixed up in Germany, you may be wondering how you can learn about the idiosyncrasies Germans have before you make the move and go. The first thing you can do is check for an online course about the German culture which you can follow and learn from before you set foot on German soil.
If you don’t like cyclists you won’t like Germany
In the cities you will find there are far more cycles than cars. In fact cycling is embedded in the life of a German city. You will definitely get frowned at if you abuse a cyclist in any way and that means getting out of the way when a cyclist is coming your way.
Learning German ways before you go
There are a host of learning resources on the internet that will educate you on how you should behave in Germany and what to expect from Germans. These online learning resources also give examples of tricky situations you may encounter and how you should deal with them.
How Germans have influenced the culture of places they have migrated to
German speaking people not only travel the world, but have emigrated in large numbers over the last century or so for many different reasons. These émigré German speakers have brought their own culture and language with them to enrich the culture of their adopted home, as is described here in Australia.
5 key points to remember about Germany
Don’t get caught out shouting at a cyclist on a pavement because he or she is probably entitled to be there.
You don’t need to tip waiters or waitresses as they get good pay already so don’t need tipping.
Don’t try and tell off a smoker for puffing a stream of smoke in your face as it’s probably permitted where you are.
Don’t be insulted if Germans seem direct when talking to you as that is part of their culture.
If you try jay walking no-one will like it and they won’t be afraid to tell you.
Most people love travelling and would love to know what they should be looking out for before they arrive in a country like Germany. There are many useful online resources which are a good way of sharpening your German knowledge before you go and help you to avoid the pitfalls but gain from the culture. This website gives you a good idea what to expect when arriving in Germany. Forewarned is forearmed as the saying goes!
As soon as you have learnt all the basics about visiting Germany you will avoid the pitfalls and understand how Germans and Germany ticks.
You’ve been reading a guest post by Alexander Zeller
Alexander Zeller is a project manager and translator working with The Migration Translators in Australia, providing translation services in over 150 Languages. By blending the best of both offline and online translation services, The Migration translators deliver experiences that surprise and delight – on budget, on time, on scope.
Did you enjoy Babylon Berlin, the critically acclaimed German TV series? Perhaps even used it to boost your German listening skills? If you’ve ever wondered about the historical accuracy of the series there’s a great documentary which aims to provide some context around the year in which the event of the series take place.
1929: Das Jahr Babylon (“The Year Babylon”) presents the year 1929 as a time of immanent crisis. The first world war has ended about ten years ago, the defeat is all but forgotten, the future is unsure and the young republic in a constant state of emergency.
Through the use old journals, memories, police reports, newspaper snippets and other contemporary documents, narrated by some of the original actors (Fritzi Haberlandt, Leonie Benesch, Peter Kurth, Anton von Luck) from Babylon Berlin, this film paints an immersive picture of a tumultuous time in the German capital between two terrible wars.
Last but not least the documentary is scored by legendary Swiss producer/composer Thomas Fehlmann who wraps the dramatic reenactments and historical footage in his haunting electronic landscapes.
You can watch Das Jahr Babylon on ARD in full length (with German subtitles) until the 30th of September 2019 or on YouTube:
1929: Das Jahr Babylon (Doku 2018) - YouTube
The full score by Thomas Fehlmann is also on Spotify:
With a Stranger Things meets Donnie Darko vibe, Dark is a thrilling and wriggling mystery. The show’s mysterious priest Noah sums up its atmosphere. He says: ‘Most people are nothing but pawns on a chessboard led by an unknown hand’.
It’s not Netflix’s first show to grip you from start to finish, but it is the first German original series Netflix has produced.
Dark is only the latest German success story in America. Germans have been succeeding in the USA for centuries, and they’ve been crucial to America’s growth as a nation.
Germans helped build US business
Germans were among the first people to migrate to America. Germantown, Pennsylvania, was the first German settlement town.
Founded in 1683, it’s the birthplace of the American antislavery movement. Since then, Germans have helped to build the US business sector, as the example of Levi Strauss shows.
It’s the most famous US jeans brand on the planet, synonymous with Westerns and country music. But did you know that John Wayne has Germany to thank for his Levi’s 501s?
The brand’s titular founder came to America from Germany in 1847 and built one of the icons of US business. Perhaps if we were all wearing Löb Strauß we’d appreciate this.
Some of the other German contributions to American business include Goldman Sachs, Boeing, Comcast, and Pfizer. So Germany has given the US fashion, flight, finance, telecommunications, and medication – and trillions of dollars worth of commerce.
US malls are more German than they are American
Speaking of commerce, Germany hasn’t only given the land of the free its money; it has also helped to America to spend it.
Malls might be quintessentially American but their shoppers are more German than they are Yank.
This is because there are more ethnic Germans in the US than Italians, African Americans, Italians, Mexicans, or any other ethnicity. German-Americans might be America’s silent majority but, at 14.4% of the population, they account for over $5 billion of the money spent in US retail.
So Germans have been building US business and fuelling the American economy. But why don’t more people know how Germanic US society is?
It’s because Germans have integrated into US society seamlessly. So much so that what we think of as ‘quintessentially American’ parts of US culture are in fact German.
Germany has given America a voice and a culture
What makes the US American? Stars and stripes. Michael Jordan. Christmas.
Without German influence, Christmas in America would look, sound, and smell very different. And it’s not the only way that Germans have succeeded in directing American culture.
Here are a few of the most famous examples of German influence:
Christmas: Without Germany there would be no tree, no gifts, and no Santa
Apple pie: What’s as American as apple pie? Apple strudel. Because that’s where the love of the dish comes from
Language: Who invented American-English? Noah Webster. And was he German? No. Webster might not have come from Germany, but some of the most American words did:
Without Germany the US wouldn’t be the same place that it is. So it’s high time the world gives Germany the credit it deserves.
‘Dark’ shows America loves its German connection
So what does the success of Netflix treasure Dark show about German success in America? That the land of the free loves its German connection, and that Germans can be hugely successful in the US as a result.
This opens up a whole realm of opportunity for German businesses. If you’re a German entrepreneur, why not use this connection to your advantage? You could open a quintessentially German business that would translate well to the American market, like a hipster bratwurst bar.
We know that hotdogs are popular in the US, so you could build on this — and the European roots of the American hotdog — and create a German hotdog food business.
If Netflix can sell a German TV show to the US market, you can easily sell a product that celebrates Germaness. You would need to do your market research and figure out who your key demographic is — is this case, the millennial hipster — and aim your products towards them. Creating buyer personas will help with establishing what your average customer would want. In this case, you could add quirky toppings or make a vegan versions of your bratwurst.
Americans have fallen for Germany. Not already read about Monte Joffee from New York City? Check out the recommended reading at the start of this article. Monte fell in love with the German language in the 1960s and continues to practice it. He’s one of the many success stories of German culture in America.
On the flip-side, see what this American mom thought of Germany when she moved her family to Berlin (hint, she loved it):
Sara Zaske: "Achtung Baby: An American Mom on the German Art of Raising [...]" | Talks at Google - YouTube
Dark is Netflix’s first German original series and it’s a brilliant show. But that’s not all. It’s also the latest example of Germany’s enduring success in America.
You’ve been reading a guest post by Kayleigh Alexandra
Kayleigh Alexandra is a content writer for Micro Startups — a site dedicated to giving through growth hacking. Visit the blog for articles featuring startups, entrepreneurs, charity insights, content, and artistic topics. Follow us on Twitter @getmicrostarted.
Have you ever wondered how many German dialects there are? Between the breezy Northern Platt and the homely Southern Boarisch, it’s actually quite difficult to come up with a definite number. Theoretically there are as many dialects as there are German speakers.
Especially when you travel farther away from Europe, it’s remarkable how local communities over time created their very own dialects which preserved certain parts of Standard German (dialects) but also branched off in unique ways. Many of you may have heard about Pennsylvania German, for example, but did you know that the Lone Star State has its own German dialect too?