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The Duden is the authoritative source for correct spelling, grammar and pronunciation in German. It is what the Oxford English Dictionary is to English.

It was first published in 1880 comprising 27,000 entries. The latest 27th edition has just been published with 145,000 entries, 5,000 more than in the previous edition.

New words are mainly loan words from English that do not have a German equivalent and terms from the world of politics. There have also been some changes to German Orthography, for instance the capital letter for ß has been introduced.

Here are a few nouns from English that have made it into German: die Fake News, der Brexit, der Selfie, der Selfiestick, der Social Bot, das Emoji, die Work-Life-Balance, Low Carb, das Tablet, then there are new verbs: liken, facebooken (all regular), and adjective: pixelig

Do you know any other new words that have made into the Duden?

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All languages have their peculiarities with some expressions that are difficult to translate into other languages and, even when they are translated, don’t make a great deal of sense. When you do choose to learn German in the City of London you might not necessarily be taught these phrases but you could well come across them when you socialise in Germany so you hopefully won’t be shocked, here are a few idioms that might leave you a little perplexed:

Lügen haben kurze Beine

Lies have short legs, meaning that deception might get you out of trouble in the short term, but sooner or later it could come back and, to use an English idiom, bite you on the bum – like an angry dachshund!

Ich drücke dir die Daumen

In English to wish you luck your friends will cross their fingers for you, but in Germany you might hear them say, “I press the thumbs for you,” while showing you their fists with thumbs duly pressed.

Es ist mir Wurst

When you are given two or more options, whether it’s a decision on where to go or what to do, and you don’t really care one way or the other, in German you would say, “It’s sausage to me”.

Hopfen und Malz ist verloren

There would have to be a beer related idiom in German! In beer making, when something goes wrong during the brewing process the ingredients are good for nothing. So, if a German says, “Hops and malt are lost,” you might as well give up as you are chasing a lost cause.

Schwein haben

You wouldn’t think of a pig as being particularly fortunate, especially in Germany where they are a part of the daily diet. However, they are also a sign of luck so, if you have a piece of good fortune you could be told, “you had a pig,” meaning “lucky you!”

Nicht alle Tassen im Schrank haben

There are many English idioms for someone who’s crazy such as, he’s not all there; doesn’t have all his marbles; a pork pie short of a picnic, etc. In German he doesn’t have all the cups in the cupboard.

Ich habe die Nase voll

When a German says, “I have the full nose,” he’s not asking for a tissue, but telling you that he’s had enough of a certain situation. It’s similar to the English, “I’ve had a bellyful of that.”

Do you recognise the idiom displayed in the picture at the top of the page?

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During your German studies, you have come across the letter ‘ß’ which your German teacher calls SZ or sharp S. The letter was introduced in 1903 because the double S in Roman typography looked similar to SZ in old German typography. It came out of fashion in Switzerland but is still used in standard German typography to this day. ß did not exist as a capital letter, but recently a capital ß was introduced. ß stands after long vowels and diphthongs and contrary to believe is not simply replaceable with double S. You may have wondered how to type ß on your computer when typing up your homework for your German language course: on an Apple Mac computer just hold down the S-Key on your keyboard and select 1, same applies to iOS. On a Windows computer just hold down the ALT key and type 225.

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