Some of My Favorite Words and Phrases That Have Come Into My Life Due to Learning Another Language


So… I’ve sacrificed a lot in my learning of German. German makes me have to think twice about sentence structure in English. German makes me forget simple English words momentarily. But today I want to focus on why I like German and why I have dedicated so much of my life to it. So I thought that I would talk about some of my favorite German words and phrases.

First, let’s start with some pretty basic stuff—stuff that you might want to use in your daily life… or well… that I use in my day-to-day life…

· ERKLÄREN (Explain) – I just love to say this word. It just rolls off of the tongue so easily and it’s so fun to say. Also, it’s pretty useful. I think that this is also an exemplary example of German word structure.

· FREITAG (Friday) – So, as much as I love Fridays, it’s not my love for Fridays that landed “Freitag” on this list. “Freitag” literally means “free day” or “day of freedom” which is… well… wonderful!

· ICH WEIß / ACH! ICH WEIß / JA, ICH WEIß (I know / Oh! I know / Yes, I know) – So… I never say “I know” anymore. I just say: “Ich weiß” or “Ach! Ich weiß!” Quick note: The German letter “ß” (called “Eszett”) makes a “ss” sound, so you may see it spelt out “Ich weiss” though the “ß” will be much more common.

· TRÄUM / TRÄUM GROß (Dream / Dream big) – I say this quite often. An example would be:

o Someone: “Hey, do you think that I should put in an audition for this show?”

o Me: “Definitely! Träum groß!”

Now, let’s get on with some crazy words that we don’t have in English and some phrases that I absolutely adore…

· DIE LEBENSVERSICHERUNGSGESELLSCHAFT (The Life Insurance Company) – So… this isn’t an altogether bizarre thing to say, but it’s one of my favorite German words because it’s just so long! And I’m not kidding… this is an actual word and it really is only one word. That’s because in German, the word kind of just gets stacked up. For example, if you were talking about a button on a jacket, it’s a “mantelkopf” (“button”). “Lebens” means “life”, “versicherung” means “insurance”, “gesellschaft” means “society” or “company”, and so “lebensversicherungsgesellschaft” means “life insurance company”.  

· DAS IST DER WEG DES HERZENS (That is the way of the heart) – I don’t know… I just like to say this. I think that it’s just so fun to say and it just kind of… flows, you know?

· KUMMERSPECK (The weight you gain after a breakup) – “Kummerspeck” literally translates to “grief bacon”. Yeah, that’s weird, I know. But it actually means the weight that you gain after a breakup or after you eat to drown out your feelings. I just think that this word is an absolutely wonderful word to have. I mean… where else do you have a word to express this?

· SCHANPSIDEE (An absolutely insane idea) – So technically, “Schnapsidee” will translate directly to “Schnaps (alchohol) idea”. Essentially, the idea of the word “schnapsidee” is to mean an idea that’s so crazy that someone might thing that you were under the influence of alcohol when you came up with it.

· VERSCHLIMMERN (To try to make something better but in the process to make it worse) – See how awfully long that explanation was? Why say all of that when you can just say “Verschlimmern”?

· DU HAST DICH IN MIR ERKENNEN (You have recognized yourself in me) – Now, really, when is this going to come in handy? I’ve got no clue. But it’s so fun to say and it’s just one of those things that I love the sound of. And who knows? Maybe you’ll have to say it someday!


Do you know any other languages? If so, what are some of your favorite words and phrases that you absolutely adore? Has learning this language messed up your English? 


20 thoughts on “Some of My Favorite Words and Phrases That Have Come Into My Life Due to Learning Another Language

  1. As I already told you, I have been learning Spanish. Not even close to being that fluent and yet still have to write a paper in Spanish. My Spanish has not messed up my Spanish. But funny story: when I first was trying to pronounce Les Miserables, I kept on pronouncing it in Spanish not in French. The thing that drives me nuts are the false cognates (words that look like what they mean in English, but mean them like sensible does not mean sensible, but sensitive)


    1. There’s a lot of those false cognates in German too! For example, “Also” doesn’t mean “also”, it means “well”. I love German but it has kinda messed up my English and people don’t understand what I mean sometimes. There’s this thing where I wave my hand over my face and people never understand what I mean because it’s common in German to do that and mean “Are you crazy?” but in English it’s taken to mean “Can you see me?”. And then there’s stuff with grammar and me forgetting that a word cannot go on for a minute in English and that making up words isn’t really commonplace. But… I still love the German language and everything I have gotten from it


      1. I never wanted to take Spanish in high school, but it was required. The first day, I started learning it, I realized I loved it. Especially love learning the culture. I studied abroad in Costa Rica for two weeks in Summer of 2014, but my host mom was very fluent in English. But love the actual cognates in Spanish (tren, autóbus, miserable: all cognates)


      2. I took Spanish one year and while I liked it, my mind was so accustomed to German that I’d get simple things like “Comer” mixed up with “Essen” and “ojos” with “augen”. I did like the fact that determining whether something was “el”, “los”, “la”, or “las” was a lot easier than determining whether something is “der”, “die”, or “das”. The conjugations in German are pretty similar to Spanish so that was easy for me to pick up on


      3. I do talk to my Host mom in Costa Rica in Spanish, which is helping me keep up with it. Learning another language is difficult, but am good at it. I once thought those in Spanish speak way too quickly, but now that I am learning, they are not talking as quickly


      4. That’s cool! I remember when I took Spanish it was completely different than anything I was used to. In German there are clear breaks between words but in Spanish, words almost seem to flow together. Because of that break in German, people tend to think that it’s a harsh sounding language but I think it’s actually one of the softest, most beautiful languages I’ve ever heard and I love it so much.


      5. Some things in Spanish are so complicated. Some of its conjugation is very complicated and even hard to remember after just one semester. I can speak basic things in Spanish and don’t think I will be that fluent in that language. I once have changed the language of movies to be listened to in Spanish instead of English and should have been doing that more often. I think being a Spanish minor will look good at the resume


      6. Oh, definitely! My uncle always asks why I’ve embraced the German language so much because it’s well… not the most useful language in the world. Oh, well. I don’t care if my German looks good on job apps.. I mean, it’ll be nice if it does, but I don’t count on it too much. My Spanish is really “meh”. I could survive as a tourist but I can’t talk about politics in Spanish like I can in German


      7. I think that in German it stays the same. I thought it was really cool that in Berlin they did a show outdoors with the professional actors and actresses from the Oberhausen production and I think that it was completely free to go to and it was legal to film. Granted, they didn’t let them use the actual costumes because they didn’t want them to get ruined but I still wish that I could’ve seen it. One of my favorite actresses was playing Fantine. It’s on YouTube so I watch it sometimes.


      8. It is different in Spanish because Los means “the”. Les means for him, for you, for her and wouldn’t make sense as the title. Even while listening to the Les Mis songs in Spanish, I still can understand what is going on. I even have found some videos of some of these characters actually perform these songs. Seeing Les Mis in Spanish is definitely on that bucket list for sure even when some people don’t think I will understand it


      9. Thats because we both know Les Mis so well. Its still the same plot, songs, and characters. What is happening during the songs performed in another language is the same thing that is happening in English


      10. Yeah, that’s true. I just remembered another thing that trips up my English because of German. I always forget that it is “Austria”, not “Österreich” and that it’s “English” and not “Englisch”. Oh, and I forget to say “Germany” instead of “Deutschland”.


      11. Looks like it sure has. I don’t Spanish will ever ruin my English. I bet I can see Les Mis in any language and still whats going on. It is the only musical I can see it in an another language because I have the most knowledge of it compared to others


      12. I only have seen musicals in English. I have seen most musicals in the United States and only saw one in London. I just think it will be interesting to see Les Mis in Spanish because I am a Spanish minor after all and saw a show in Spanish and enjoyed it, but didn’t understand what was going on. So a couple semesters back, I was thinking I want to see a show again in Spanish, but I want to understand what is going on and automatically thought of Les Mis


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