Favourite German Words

When it comes to learning a language, you’re bound to have words which you favour (and this is probably the case in your mother tongue as well).

Due to my love of languages, I thought it’d be good to share some of my favourite words the German language has to offer. And because I’m a geek and love languages, there are more than what I’m about to write about, but these 10 will do for now… (And I’m hoping you understand why I like them and don’t just think I’m a massive weirdo!)

1. trotzdem (nevertheless)

This is my ultimate favourite German word as it dates back to the days of A-Levels. One of my best friends, who I met through our German A-Level classes, is called Anna Trotman. One thing led to another and, yes, Trotman became Trotzdem, and thus her new nickname was made (whether she liked it or not), and so every time I hear the word ‘trotzdem’ here in Germany, I can’t help but chuckle a little inside as I think back to 4/5 years ago (yikes!).

2. die Nacktschnecke (slug)

I know some of you (i.e. Sabrina and Fabi) will have laughed at that as soon as you saw it. I still remember the day I learnt this wonderful word for ‘slug’ as I was sat at Menschingstraße enjoying some homemade burgers. Basically, the word for ‘slug’ in German is literally ‘naked snail’ – how clever are the Germans? Though it is really clever, I do still somehow find it hilarious… I guess it’s better than ‘Obdachlosschnecke’ or something like that.

3. schnacken (to chat)

A beautiful northern German word which one of the teachers at my school taught me. It’s a very colloquial word, and it’s nice to have something dialect-like to take back with me due to the Hanover accent being pretty boring, apart from its big use of ‘chkkkkkk’ in words such as ‘sagte’.

4. das Bäuerchen (lit. ‘little farmer’)

The first thing I thought about this word was ‘it’s quite fun to say out loud’ (I’d try and write out how you’d say it but I’m a loss as to how to write the ‘ch’ – it’s kind of like the noise a cat makes when it hisses angrily. In which case: ‘Boy-er-*evil cat*-en’). Anyway, this word can be used to describe a baby burp. So, in German, instead of saying something like ‘Awh did you just do an ickle burpy-wurpy?’ (OK nobody says that but still), they’d say ‘Awh did you just make a little farmer?’ – wie niedlich!

5. Hannoveranerinnen (2 or more females from Hanover)

This is another fun one to say. I had to say it last week for the summer course and it made me realise how difficult it actually is at first. It’s kind of like ‘Hann-oh-vah-rhan-ah-rhin-nen’. It’s quite fun to say once you can actually do it!

6. der Rhabarber (Rhubarb)

You can probably just look at this word and see it’s another fun word to say. There’s a fun (well, I say ‘fun’… I mean ridiculous) tongue twister about a woman who owns a bar and sells rhubarb cake… If you fancy taking a look, then here you go:

In einem kleinen Dorf wohnte einst ein Mädchen mit dem Namen Barbara. Barbara war in der ganzen Gegend für ihren ausgezeichneten Rhabarberkuchen bekannt. Da jeder so gerne Barbaras Rhabarberkuchen aß, nannte man sie Rhabarberbarbara. Rhabarberbarbara merkte bald, dass sie mit ihrem Rhabarberkuchen Geld verdienen könnte. Daher eröffnete sie eine Bar: Die Rhabarberbarbarabar.
Natürlich gab es in der Rhabarberbabarabar bald Stammkunden. Die Bekanntesten unter ihnen, drei Barbaren, kamen so oft in die Rhabarberbarbarabar, um von Rhabarberbarbaras herrlichen Rhabarberkuchen zu essen, dass man sie kurz die Rhabarberbarbarabarbarbaren nannte. Die Rhabarberbarbarabarbarbaren hatten wunderschöne dichte Bärte. Wenn die Rhabarberbarbarabarbarbaren ihren Rhabarberbarbarabarbarbarenbart pflegten, gingen sie zum Barbier.

Der einzige Barbier, der einen Rhabarberbarbarabarbarbarenbart bearbeiten konnte, wollte das natürlich betonen und nannte sich Rhabarberbarbarabarbarbarenbartbarbier. Der Rhabarberbarbarabarbarbarenbartbarbier kannte von den Rhabarberbarbarabarbarbaren Rhabarberbarbaras herrlichen Rhabarberkuchen und trank dazu immer ein Bier, das er liebevoll Rhabarberbarbarabarbarbarenbartbarbierbier nannte. Das Rhabarberbarbarabarbarbarenbartbarbierbier konnte man nur an einer ganz bestimmten Bar kaufen. Die Verkäuferin des Rhabarberbarbarabarbarbarenbartbarbierbieres an der Rhabarberbarbarabarbarbarenbartbarbierbierbar hieß Bärbel.

Nach dem Stutzen des Rhabarberbarbarabarbarbarenbarts geht der Rhabarberbarbarabarbarbarenbartbarbier meist mit den Rhabarberbarbarabarbarbaren in die Rhabarberbarbarabarbarbarenbartbarbierbierbar zu Rhabarberbarbarabarbarbarenbartbarbierbierbarbärbel, um sie mit zur Rhabarberbarbarabar zu nehmen, um mit etwas Rhabarberbarbarabarbarbarenbartbarbierbier von Rhabarberbarbaras herrlichem Rhabarberkuchen zu essen.

Look at those huge words at the end!

7. eben

‘Eben’ is one of those weird German words which doesn’t translate perfectly into English (yep, there’s unfortunately such thing as words like that…), and one translation is kind of ‘exactly!’ in the sense of ‘that’s exactly what I mean!’ – the reason I like it is because of this use. There’s nothing better than throwing an ‘eben’ in a conversation to know the person you’re talking to understands. Yes it sounds weird, but still…

8. umsteigen (to change train/tram/bus/whatever else)

‘Umsteigen’ is one of the words I’ve adopted into my English, despite that meaning non-German speakers don’t have a clue what I’m on about when I say it. It just feels a lot easier to use this than say ‘change tram’ or something, purely because it works for any kind of transport. Quite often I’ll say in English ‘Yeah, and then we need to umsteigen at Kröpcke’ – see how beautifully it flows…?

9. schaffen (to manage/to make it)

By ‘eck, what a good word. Another one I use when speaking English, with the reason being that it can be used for a lot of different situations: ‘Do you reckon we’ll miss our train?’ – ‘No, we’ll schaffen it!‘, ‘I don’t know if I can eat a whole burger to myself’ – ‘You’ll schaffen it!’. Another favourite use is the past tense ‘geschafft’ used whenever you successfully do something. God help me when I go back to England and start saying these random foreign words to non-German speakers…

10. der Scherzkeks (jokester)

I chuckled whilst typing the word – Scherzkeks literally means ‘joke biscuit’, and, if I’m not mistaken, I’ve already written about it in a previous blog post so I won’t talk about it too much. It’s basically a beautiful word and I love the Germans for it.

As I say, there are other beautiful words out there which I love, and these are just a few.

Was für eine schöne Sprache!