5 German Words that Kill Me

Not literally, of course.Lately I’ve been feeling pretty lazy about my German progress. My two-year anniversary came and went last summer while I was comatose after the trip to the States. But two+ years in, and I don’t have a single German lesson under my belt. This is due to a variety of factors, namely finances, time, and laziness. 

That said, I do know, and understand, a good deal of German. When BV speaks to me, I understand darn near all of it. His dad on the other hand… not so much. His mom? No problem, she speaks clearly. Random people in shops… not so much. German is like so many other languages, in that it’s dialectal, and prone to vast differences given who is speaking it. I swear, every time I learn a word, I learn two more that are synonymous with it. I would say that it’s irritating as hell, but I’ve been hearing the same thing about English for the last five years so I’ll let that one go. But still.

itchy feet2

AMEN. Thanks itchyfeetcomic.com, you’re super!

Frustrating? Yep. Yep it is.

I pay attention to things. I read things. I play with my DuoLinguo App, which is as hilarious as it is helpful. One sentence it had me do was “pants off!” I really need to check into who this app is geared towards….

But some things. Some things are just beyond me. For whatever reason I have developed a mental block here. 

So, I give you five words that I cannot for the life of me remember. 

  • ruhig: quiet. Given how often I want to use this word,  you’d think I’d be able to remember it. Nope. But its opposite, laut/loud, is so god-darn obvious, I think I want ruhig to be also. It’s not.
  • Beispiel: example. This is one that I hear a lot, especially in teaching. But without fail, every time I hear it I have a whole mental conversation with myself… “Beispeil, beispeil, oh God, I know that… what the hell is that again? Where’s my phone? GAH EXAMPLE. I’m an idiot.” 
  •  schon: not to be confused with schön, which means beautiful. Schon can mean already, yet, really, anyway, already, or any other damn thing someone might want. People seem to just insert it into sentences willy-nilly, which confuses the hell out of me because I can’t hear the difference between schön and schon yet.
  •  Freude: joy/pleasure/delight/happiness. I see it and I immediately think Freund(e), or friend. Nope. Not the same.
  • Geschäft: store/shop. This is how my internal dialogue goes “Geschirr (dishes), Gesicht (face), Geschichte (story/history), nein nein nein! What the f*ck is store? Gah! Geschäft! I knew that!” Every. Bloody. Time.

So… any advice for me from the other expats? My residence permits didn’t provide me with the integration courses like I’ve heard other people have gotten, which I’m kind of happy and yet kind of pissed about. BV and I do speak together, but the conversations are usually fairly short, and of course he can’t explain ALL THE THINGS to me. I would like to get to the point where I’m comfortable functioning in it on a daily basis, which is not something I need to do right now with my job. But, I’m also getting to the point where I want to transition into doing something else. That’s a whole ‘nother box of fun here, but if I spoke better German, it would make life a whole lot easier.

So, any suggestions for a cheap and effective way to work on my German?


4 thoughts on “5 German Words that Kill Me

  1. Oh man, I just wrote an article about Duolingo. So their thing is really brilliant (but also sort of sneaky). Basically all the language students on their apps and stuff are translating internet sites that they have been hired to translate for them. They all get double checked against a bunch of other translations, and then they sell those and that is why it is free and that is where some of the weird sentences come from. So knowing that, I was cracking up imagining what website that line you got was pulled from…

    • It seems the cat is really out of the bag now! I just read a few articles about them in the last few days. I have to hand it to them, and you are right, it’s pretty darn brilliant! I’ve been saving a bunch of screenshots of some of the funnier lines I’ve run across, so keep an eye out, that’ll make it on here at some point. Thanks for the comment!

  2. Love this post! There are still some English words that kill me and David says learning German is torture. I got him some books for Christmas but I don’t feel like he likes them very much so I don’t have any recommendations. 😦 But I am sure your German is already great!

    • Thanks Katrin! I always enjoy your posts about “mean words” in English too. 🙂 Is David taking any classes or is he going the self-taught route? Let me know if any of the books you got are helpful… I have a few, but I have to admit that they’ve got dust on them at the moment. It might be time to get them out again because I’ve been here too long to be this bad (and lazy)!

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