1. Heinrich IX
    July 28, 2011 @ 6:34 pm

    Funny article 🙂

    I myself once had to translate a few important things for an American friend who wanted to get into the mating and dating business with German girls…


    Heinrich IX aka Dr. Huch

  2. TexaGermaNadian
    January 10, 2011 @ 8:36 pm

    Again, love this post too! I just heard the Eierlegende Vollmilchsau from my boss today and thought it was hilarious! A waaaay better way to say jack-of-all-trades. When I was learning German, and now that I am teaching English, I feel really lucky that a lot of our little sayings translate exactly to the German equivalent. But some of these, are just plain hilarious!

    • Andrew
      January 11, 2011 @ 8:35 am

      My boss says it just in conversation and every time I just break up laughing. He doesn’t notice it as funny, being just a part of the language, but I just envision this poor furry animal.

  3. Annie
    January 10, 2011 @ 7:54 pm

    I laughed out loud!!!

    I really have to compose a post about learning Italian, italian slang and translations… let the research begin!

    • Andrew
      January 11, 2011 @ 8:30 am

      Yes definitely. I want to read that one when you get it done.

  4. Laurel
    January 6, 2011 @ 11:00 am

    This made me laugh so hard and I can’t wait to try some of them out! Ich verstehe nur Bahnhof will definitely come in handy!

  5. Sabrina
    January 5, 2011 @ 9:28 pm

    Haha! This is too funny! Have you gotten to the point where you forget from which language a specific expression or saying is? That happens to me sometimes. I haven’t told anybody here in Texas that all I understand is train station yet, but I’ve gotten close 🙂

    On a side note…. “die Kirche im Dorf lassen” is an expression for not exaggerating. For example, you could tell someone “Jetzt lass aber mal die Kirche im Dorf!” meaning “Stop exaggerating!” when they start blowing things out of proportion in an argument.

    • Andrew
      January 5, 2011 @ 11:49 pm

      No. I still remember where most of the phrases come from. Though when speaking English with Germans, I do often forget what things are likely idioms as opposed to just part of the language.

      Thanks for the explanation on the Kirche im Dorf thing. My boss uses it when we talk about solving a problem with a fairly complex solution when he expects a simpler one to be enough. So I guess it is a form of exaggeration.

      Did you see Jen’s comment above? Where is I only understand train station from?

      • Sabrina
        January 11, 2011 @ 3:34 pm

        Ich habe nicht den blassesten Schimmer 😉 No idea!

      • Heinrich IX
        July 29, 2011 @ 1:34 pm

        From Wikipedia:

        Die Redewendung „Ich verstehe nur Bahnhof“ besagt heute umgangssprachlich, etwas nicht verstehen zu können. Ursprünglich verwendeten kriegsmüde Soldaten am Ende des Ersten Weltkrieges diese Redewendung, um jedes andere Thema als die ersehnte Heimreise abzuwürgen.

        At the end of WW1 all the tired soldiers wanted to hear about was when they would be going home, which at the time normally would mean by rail, hence “Bahnhof”. Every other topic would simply be cut off with “I only understand railway station”.

        • Heinrich IX
          July 29, 2011 @ 1:37 pm

          Oops, no editing of comments here…I forgot to add that a better translation of “Ich verstehe nur Bahnhof” might be “All i hear is train station”

  6. Harriet
    January 5, 2011 @ 12:40 pm

    This post is really amusing and informative. I have a dual heritage and my Dad quite often mixes up his native language with english, its quite amusing! I took him to see an opera recently, sung in his language, and he said the translation on the screen wasn;t actually what the actors where singing because it was so difficult to translate between the two languages!

    • Andrew
      January 5, 2011 @ 8:51 pm

      Yeah, watching translations or subtitles gets into that. The idioms don’t translate, the humor is missed, or the language is just too complex to get onto 2 lines at a speed that matches the actors and reads fast enough.

  7. Laura
    January 4, 2011 @ 11:13 pm

    Great post! I’m just now getting to the point where I’m able to identify things like this in Spanish. English is my partner’s 2nd language and I often find myself explaining cultural references to him when we’re watching TV. It’s like you say, he understands the words but doesn’t quite get the reference or why it’s supposed to be funny.

    • Andrew
      January 5, 2011 @ 8:50 pm

      It really boggled my mind having to explain Friends references. She speaks perfectly fluent language, but I guess that doesn’t get you perfect cultural understanding.

  8. Jeremy B
    January 3, 2011 @ 9:48 pm

    I wish I knew enough of another language to have fun with this. I have enough problems understanding the english of a 2 1/2 year old who sometimes makes up his own language. 🙂

    • Andrew
      January 5, 2011 @ 8:49 pm

      Hah.. I can imagine what the language of kids is like. That can almost be more fun to listen to. Honest mistakes become funny.

  9. Jen
    January 3, 2011 @ 6:15 pm

    Ha! I had to write some of these down. Useful to know!

    Ich verstehe nur bahnhof is one of my personal favorites and it makes me laugh. When I’m in the Frankfurt Hbf and the announcements on the loudspeaker are ricocheting all over that huge hall and the only thing I can understand is maybe my train number, I kinda understand this phrase. LOL.

    • Andrew
      January 5, 2011 @ 8:48 pm

      I wonder if that is where the phrase is from? That in a train station the only then you actually can understand of the announcements is the least useful word of “train station.”