Monday, September 12, 2005

German Language mistakes

Although i am learning more & more German language, funny mishaps still happen every now and then. This time i took a tool from our research group workshop which had written on it: "Achtung: Größe Zoll". Now it translates to "Caution: big custom duty". I was surprised, but still used it with care thinking it is a very expensive tool for which they have paid a big custom duty. Later i came to know that "Zoll" also means "inches", which made it "Caution: measurement in inches".

Earlier when i arrived in Germany, i often had to use the English verb "to put" in my German sentences. So i was looking for its translation. I found the German verb "putzen" and thought that it meant "to put". So i started using it. In many situations, verbs are placed at the end of a German sentence, so while buying some edible stuff (fish, meat, rice, bread, etc) from shops i used to ask the shopkeeper "should i put this in refrigerator" with a German equivalent "soll ich es in die Kühlschrank putzen" or "where should i put it?" in German "wo soll ich es putzen?" . I noticed that they seemed to understand when i started my sentence but became extremely puzzled when i said the last word "putzen". I was very disturbed and tried to find the problem. It turned out that the verb "putzen" means "to clean". Now imagine the previous sentences with this new meaning.

Similarly, it once took me 15 minutes to explain to a lady in a shop that i needed cooking-oil, although i knew that the German translation of it is "öl". I just wasn't pronouncing it exact enough. That's the problem with all German words having two dots (Umlaut) on one of its spellings.

1 comment:

Mike said...

This is funny story. I notice you are in Kaiserslautern. My family and I moved here (not far from Aug/2004 and also enjoy it much, and struggling with language. We have 3 young kids so it's hectic for us.

I write a bit on German life too, at but you have to scroll down a bit to catch some these amongst some other rantings.

Best regards,
Mike G