New Role for Former Chancellor Merkel

Our chancellor Merkel is starting a new life today!

Merkel as a ‘Smoking Figure’

And yes, as of today, she is no longer chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany. In my home, she now functions as a ‘Räuchermännchen’ (literal: smoking little guy). She arrived in the post this afternoon, so she was right on time for her new role.

It took me a while to figure out where the smoke might come from… the traditional ones have the smoke coming out from the mouth. In her case, it comes out near the bottom of her pants!

These traditional Christmas decorations and incense smokers are handmade in the Ore Mountains (German: Erzgebirge) in the eastern part of Germany.

In case you are interested, visit Seiffener Volkskunst.

German Idiom of the Day: Alter Schwede

When your former coworker, whom you haven’t seen in a year or more, greets you with ‘Alter Schwede’ (Old Swede), you might wonder what he is referring to.

This is an idiom, which was coined by the Prince Elector Friedrich Wilhelm of Brandenburg. During the 30-year war (1618 – 1648), he recruited Swedish soldiers to train his men. These Swedes were so popular with his German soldiers, they addressed them with a congenial ‘Alter Schwede!’

This idiom is still being used when we see an old friend after a long time. We also use it to express appreciation, respect, or amazement.

When speaking German, we use it with people of any nationality.

German Word of the Day: die Pflastersteine

In a conversation about last week’s Hof Flohmarkt (courtyard flea market), when most of Oberursel’s Altstadt (old part of the town) opened its courtyard gates to many visitors, I also mentioned to wear good shoes around the area as high heels make walking difficult.

The conversation turned then to farm house courtyards, and their original purpose. There is also a difference between the original cobble stones and the new ones to fit the Altstadt flair.

This is a sample of the old Pflastersteine (cobble stones), which are a significant part of Oberursel’s Altstadt.

Old cobble stones 13th century

These cobble stones look like they date from a more recent era.

This is another alley near St. Ursula Church, where only cobble stones are found.

Oberursel Hof Flohmarkt 2021

Around the Altstadt, even the stairways are made from cobble stones.

Stairway to St. Ursula Church, Oberursel

der Pflasterstein (Singular), die Pflastersteine (Plural)

But das Pflaster by itself is a band-aid.

Where to Get Vaccine Wine in Oberursel

I can resist anything except temptation.”

Oscar Wilde

That’s what I thought when I saw this label at our EDEKA Supermarket in Oberursel-Nord. The German word for vaccine is Impfstoff, and our supermarket now carries this in form of… wine.

For learners of German, this is a quick translation of the label.

It won’t protect you from the virus. But it will make your situation a bit more relaxing. Quality wine for everyone with a sense of humor.

Schützt sicher vor keinem Virus. Macht die Lage aber etwas entspannter. Qualitätswein für alle mit Hang zum Humor.

Impfstoff Wein

If you want to make someone smile, give them a bottle of Impfstoff.

der Impfstoff: vaccine

A + impfen: to vaccinate s.o.

Often used in the passive form, which is made from: werden + past participle

Ich werde bald geimpft: I will get vaccinated soon.

Ich wurde noch nicht geimpft: I have not been vaccinated yet.

Evolving German Mischmasch Language

I’ve abused the German language for many years. Sometimes, I’ve spoken in a mischmasch of English and German, because it was more convenient. For example, my husband asks me for the whereabouts of something, then my reply is usually this: “It’s in the Einbauschrank!” The Einbauschrank is the built-in closet in the entry way of an apartment in Germany. At least around here where we live. You see, I don’t bother translating it. I use the local word.

The other day, I discovered this new word on a notice at the doctor’s office. “… zu spät sein sollten, wird der Termin automatisch gekänzelt.(In case you’re late, your appointment will be automatically cancelled)

Sprachnudel känzeln

There is a new platform called Sprachnudel (Language Noodle), which collects all the words not suitable for the Duden (Germany’s pre-eminent language resource).

Sprachnudel, the platform for Wörter der Jetztsprache (Words of the Present Language) sounds so much like Language Doodle. 🙂

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