Lucky Charms for the German New Year

Between Christmas and  New Year, most supermarkets and bakeries sell these lucky charms.

chocolate piglet: das Schokoladenschweinchen

chocolate piglets

chocolate piglets

marzipan piglet: das Marzipan Schweinchen

marzipan piglets

marzipan piglets

das Marzipan Schweinchen mit Schornsteinfeger (m)

chimney sweeps and pigs

chimney sweeps and pigs

der Schornsteinfeger mit Fliegenpilz (m)

toadstool with chimneysweep

chimney sweep with toadstool

der Schornsteinfeger mit Berliner

donuts for New Year's Eve

donuts for New Year’s Eve

There are numerous temptations out there.

Same procedure as every year.

The New Culture of Emoticons

Roughly about the same time my husband forwarded me the article Emoticons Move to the Business World, featured in the New York Times, I asked a Korean high school student to teach me some emoticons, Korean style.

Since my husband and his colleagues (one of them had forwarded the article to him) are members of the English department, it is somewhat obvious they’d approve of real words to show emotion.

At the same time, maybe by coincidence, none of them are on facebook or twitter. My husband’s argument against social media is that he does not have time for it. He might, if he only wrote some emoticons along with his words. Darn, I almost used one now.

The article itself was very good to read. And yes, I do refrain from using emoticons in business e-mails. In business, using them is stepping too close to the subject, more like slapping your business partner on his back.

But when on social media, it becomes a necessary tool. At times, I might only have a minute to comment on somebody’s post and the emoticon saves me a lot of time from trying to explain I was only (trying to be) witty. See, these three words could have been substituted by one simple sign.

In real life, we can use our facial features to transcend the mood of the speaker. In social media, with so many non-native speakers around in the global network, we want to make doubly sure we are understood. And what better way than to accentuate it with a smiley face.

I had fun learning these Korean emoticons today and want to share them with you. Frankly, I can’t wait to add one of them to a post on facebook this evening.

^^ = happy

T.T = sad

-_- = annoyed

-_-;; = embarrassed

>< = totally excited

:S = confused



English Study Book Recommendations

I was asked  to compile a list of recommended English study books for the summer break for a student of mine. I might as well share it with everyone. This list is geared at the 11th/12th grade of the local Gymnasium ( high school), where English is taught as a foreign language, but it also applies to any high school student learning English as a Foreign Language (EFL). The recommended books on writing are an integral part in any library – including the one of a native speaker of English.

For idioms:

Dictionary of Idioms (Collins Cobuild)

For vocabulary:

The Vocabulary Builder: The Practically Painless Way to a Larger Vocabulary (Study Smart Series)

Vocabulary for TOEFL iBT

Writing skills:

100 Ways to Improve Your Writing (Mentor)

The Elements of Style

On Writing Well, 30th Anniversary Edition: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction

Most of these books are on my shelf – or my husband’s, for that matter.

Germans’ lack of communication

Over the years, working on the internet and in real life, I have occasionally come across some typical mistakes made in English. As it so happened, I found one on the front page of the Curry Museum in Berlin.

This post is not about making mistakes, as I still make plenty myself, in German and English. This is about the lack of response. I take the time to inform somebody of a typo or grammar mistake made. My pet peeve with Germans is their lack of response. Say thanks for improving their website or their shelf? No.

This is not only in regards to websites, this happens at the supermarket as well. As soon as one points out an error, there is only silence. This must stem from bad experience – I can only speculate – where a mistake made results in further chiding from the customer.

This is when I have to be very clear about approaching any issue – I need to label it a suggestion, as most Germans are eager to label it as a complaint.

Anyway, on 30 January, I took the time to send Ms. Breloh, the museum director, a friendly message with an explanation to the grammar mistake.

The front page said: The Currywurst has it’s own museum!

It should read: The Currywurst has its own museum!

By chance, I ran across their website today and found the mistake corrected. But there was no friendly return message in my mail-box.

Anyone up for currywurst?

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