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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Month of the Presentation

May has by far been the most stressful month of my graduate school career thus far. As if the seven classes on their own are not enough to deal with, I have also given a total of 6 presentations throughout the month.

This is why May 2015 is now known as "the Month of the Presentation."

The semester goes through mid-July, but I like the idea of getting presentations out of the way ASAP. So, that is why I had so many to do in the month of May. Oh, and let's not forget that 5 of those 6 presentations were in German - the most recent of which had the words erhöhen, höher, and all forms thereof in it, and I cannot for the life of me pronounce those words correctly. Ugh.

Oh well, at least I do not have to bother with that stress anymore in June. And soon, before I know it, the semester will be over, and I will be rushing to write all of my term papers before flying to the USA! I'm already so excited!

Anyways, thank goodness "the Month of the Presentation" is coming to an end. I finally feel like I am able to tread water again. Whew!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Vermöbeln | Mistranslation Monday

A lot of German verbs begin with the letters "ver." Verbessen means to improve. Versüßen means to sweeten. Verabreden means to arrange (a meeting).

The thing about all of these verbs (and most German verbs that begin with ver), is that when you take the "ver" away, you are still left with a German word. Besser means better. Süß means sweet. Abrede means understanding or agreement.

So, when confronted with a German verb that began with "ver" recently, I used this base to try to understand the meaning.

The instance occurred when Marco yelled at me, "Ich werde dich gleich vermöbeln!" For anyone that understands German, this probably makes it sound like Marco is an abusive boyfriend, but I assure you it was said in a joking manner. Anyways, I didn't understand the correct meaning.

When Marco said, "Ich werde dich gleich vermöbeln!" I heard, "I am going to turn you into a piece of furniture!"

So, I laughed and asked, "Like what? A table?"

"What?" Marco said, quite confused at my response. But after a moment he caught on to my logic and just started laughing.

"I don't think you know what vermöbeln means," he finally replied.

Turns out, vermöbeln actually means "to beat up" (most online translators actually give "lambast" or "thrash" as the meaning of vermöbeln, but I think beat up is a better translation for how Marco was using it, and who says "lambast" anyways?).

But as I said, I looked at the root of the word to try to figure out its meaning. When you drop the "ver" (and the "n" at the end), you are left with Möbel, which means furniture. So, I figured that vermöbeln would mean to make furniture. That's logical, right?

And now, as always when I make a Mistranslation Monday post, Marco and I continue to use this word as I had originally understood.

"Courtney, ich könnte dich gleich vermöbeln"

"Courtney, I could beat you up right now."

"Aber ich bin ein Mensch! Ich will keinen Tisch sein!"

"But I am a person! I don't want to be a table!"

Thursday, May 14, 2015

An American's Reaction to Holidays in Germany

In terms of public holidays, Germany and the U.S. are fairly similar with around 10 public holidays each (the actual number depends on the specific U.S. state or German Bundesland). However, Germany takes public holidays much more seriously than the U.S.

So, on German public holidays like today (Christi Himmelfahrt - Ascension Day), the following situation is embarrassingly common:

When the Germans have a holiday, that means everyone gets a holiday -- even the cashier at the grocery store and the barista at the coffee shop. Considering that I have memories of shopping at Walgreen's on Christmas Day and buying last-minute groceries on Easter morning, Americans definitely have a different perspective on what "public holiday" means.

And no matter how long I live in Germany and respect the fact that everyone deserves the day off, I will still act shocked and appalled whenever I feel the urge to go shopping on a Sunday or a holiday and realize that I cannot. 

Germans: Do you wish stores were open on Sunday/holidays?
Americans: Do you think shop owners/workers deserve holidays off? What about Sundays?
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