12
Feb
08

Things you don’t learn in German class

I was just going through some old papers of mine and I found a little scrap of paper in amongst all the other papers with 4 German words written on it. I’m not quite sure what I had in mind when I wrote them down, but they are a few of my favorite German words, so I thought I would write about them here. I first heard them while I lived in Germany and I came to like them and be very amused by them. I think when you learn words like this in a non-native tongue, you start to see the personality of the language and really enjoy speaking it. Anyway, without further ado:

  1. Zack!” (Interjection) This was used often by my coworkers as a sort of onomatopoeia when something happened quickly or unexpectedly, not unlike “Boom!” My German dictionary translates it as “just like that” or “before you knew it”, but “Zack!” is much succinct and expressive, so I like it much better.
  2. Ratzfatz” (Adverb) This word is used to denote that something is or should be done quickly. I like the fact that its two syllables rhyme.
  3. Schwuppdiwupp!” (also just “Schwupp”) (interjection) This is similar to “Zack!”, although it carries with it more of sense of the unexpected or out of control. So, while I could say “… and then I punched him in the face. Zack!”, “Schwuppdiwupp” would not be appropriate here. Instead, it could be used like this: “I stepped out the door and schwuppdiwupp, I was on the ground thanks to the ice on the step.”
  4. Dingsbums” (noun) This roughly means “thingamajiggy” or “doodad”. It’s a word you use when you can’t think of the correct name for something. This word is becoming less popular in polite society because of the “bums” part, which is reminiscent of the verb “bumsen” which literally means “to bump”, but which has become a vulgar slang word for sex. In order to get past this problem, people often use “Dingsda” instead.

Fellow German speakers, what are you favorite German words?

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2 Responses to “Things you don’t learn in German class”


  1. February 13, 2008 at 2:08 pm

    Nice. I especially like the recording of you saying Schwuppdiwupp. Good word.

    I’m not quite sure I have anything quite as good. I like “gucken” (look) and variations like “angucken”. At least in my neck of the woods the opening sound was between a k and a g.
    http://dict.leo.org/ende?lp=ende&p=hPXz..&search=gucken

  2. 2 Colin
    February 13, 2008 at 5:02 pm

    Thanks. I had written the post then Heather said that I should include some kind of pronunciation key so people would know how to say the words. I decided to go one better by recording myself saying them.

    Anyway, yeah, gucken is a strange word. Depending on who says it, it can definitely sound like kucken.


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