Von Schildkröten und Handschuhen. Oder: Don’t fear learning German because it’s actually a funny language

When I first started learning the German language, I was laughed at and people asked me “Dildar, why would you want to learn such an ugly, difficult language?” And to that, I’m a bit insulted I consider the German language very beautiful. Yes, it may have 48 different adjective endings. But they’re there for a reason. They like their structure. And they stick by their rules. One of the reasons I think German is so beautiful is for its practicality. Why make up a new word when you can just combine two, three, four, even five previous words into one word? Boom! You’ve just got your new meaning. Why say “insurance companies providing legal protection” When you could say “Rechtsschutzversicherungsgesellschaften“? I mean that just flows off the tongue, really. And all it needed was one word.

By Dildar Ahmed Saqib.

So, in this article, I’ll be going over my favorites, my funniest, and the most interesting words in the German language. Let’s go! The first example is a very popular one that really portrays how practical the German language is. You see, if there’s already a word for something you put on your feet as a form of clothing, to keep them warm. You know, shoes, why not just use the same one for hands? Gloves? What’s a glove? No no no no. We got hand shoes. Hand-shoes.

Usually when you’re learning a new language the lessons start with animals. So you learn different animal names. With German, it’s super easy ‘cause you just have to describe them and that’s their name. When you look at a turtle, what do you see? ‘Cause I know what I see is a toad with a shield. Schildkröte. It’s pretty obvious! That animal smells! What a stinky animal! Stinktier. When you have to wait behind people in England you just wait in a letter filled with four nonsense letters afterwards, a queue. In America, they wait in line, maybe it’s because they like geometry. In Germany, well… they wait in a Warteschlange which literally means a waiting line that has turned into a snake-like thing. When we wait in a waiting line, we are never able to keep the line straight, instead it always turns into something else most likely a snake. Now you get it why Germans call it Warteschlange. I’m gonna be honest; It does make sense now LOL.

We’ve all had one of those moments when we had too many drinks and then we came up with a really good idea that we ended up regretting quite a lot. What is the word for that? We don’t really have one. Well, Germans do! It’s a Schnapsidee. Schnaps idea. An idea after drinking too many schnaps. Perfect!

If you only speak English, you might be hearing a lot of these words for the first time. We’re gonna get into toilet humor here because you know what, I’ve had some bad food last night and It all just came out in the toilet, okay!  It just – whoosh – went right through me. Through Fall. It was diarrhea. Okay? Why call it diarrhea when you can just call it durchfall, literally through-fall. Food goes in – whoop – falls right out! Of course, it sounds gross. 

“Hey dear what you got there?” Oh nothing. Just my rain shield, Regenschirm a shield from rain. When you think about the human body, it’s pretty symmetrical. I mean we got two arms, two legs, two eyes, two ears. Why would you have to make up a word for every different part of the body when you could just reuse some? That’s what a typical German would say.

Have you ever thought why do you call your wrist a wrist. Germans think of it as a hand joint what it actually is. Handgelenk. Makes way more sense to me. I “wrist” my case here. Lol. Let’s think about this practically. Your teeth? Basically bones. But your gums is a meaty part, right? It’s the fleshy part of your mouth. Why make up a new word (gums) when you can just say tooth meat? Zahnfleisch, Zahn-Fleisch.

In American English when we want to clean something up we just use the vacuum because you know, it’s a device that creates a vacuum which creates suction. In England they call it a hoover. In Germany you have to be little more literal. What does it do? It sucks the dust. Staubsauger. Dust sucker.

And one of my all-time favorite German words, the German word that basically got me to writing this article, what do we call the contraceptive pill that you take when you don’t wanna have babies? You can’t get more practical than that, Antibabypille. It tells you everything about the word, everything about the pill is right there.

I love German. Now, if you are learning German but you’re having a hard time remembering a lot of different words, just remember one word, Zeug, that means thing or stuff. Throw it at the end of any other word and guess what, Germans are gonna understand because it’s already a word. 

Vehicle – Fahrzeug, literally means drive thing. How was that? Wanna go for another one? Eh hold on aeroplane – Flugzeug, Lighter – Feuerzeug. A fridge? You mean my cool cabinet, Kühlschrank, there you go. Hi there! I like your beddings, you mean bed stuff – Bettzeug.

Well, hopefully you enjoyed my article and don’t fear learning German because it’s actually a funny language. And if you’re German I hope you enjoyed reading it too and let me know if I described something wrong because ich lerne immer noch Deutsch als Fremdsprache.