If you’ve been around for previous NaBloPoMo-years, you might remember that I’ve posted German idioms before. I am a language nerd, appreciate good grammar, spelling, and punctuation and mastering the art of a foreign language definitely includes idioms. I’ve taught J many Germans idioms over the years and I am still learning new English idioms all the time. I think they’re fun.
This time, I thought I’d share some German words that don’t have a direct English translation but are very useful, IMHO.
1. Fernweh (Distance pain)
This word describes the feeling of wanting to be somewhere else. It’s the opposite of homesickness (Heimweh in German), a longing for a place that isn’t where you are right now. Fernweh is closely related to Wanderlust, a word that has been adopted in the English-speaking world.
2. Fremdschämen (External shame)
One of my favorite words! If you cringe inside when others make a fool of themselves, this word describes what you’re feeling. You’re embarrassed for someone else and would like to ‘disappear in a hole’ on their behalf.
3. Sitzfleisch (Sit flesh)
This word describes a (sometimes annoying) character trait. The word Sitzfleisch itself literally refers to a person’s butt. Figuratively, “Sitzfleisch haben” (to have sit flesh) means to have the ability to endure or persevere in an activity, to have the ability to sit still on your butt for hours and hours of time. However, the context it’s more commonly used in (at least as far as I know) is to describe when someone overstays their welcome and doesn’t get up to leave when the party is over.
4. Fingerspitzengefühl (fingertip feeling)
The German dictionary describes it as “Sensitivity; a talent for empathy in interaction with things and people”. If you have Fingerspitzengefühl, you are acutely and intuitively aware of changing situations and know how to act accordingly and with care.
5. Schnapsidee (schnaps idea)
A Schnapsidee is a word for an ingenious idea that comes to you when you’re drunk – or a plan that is simply too stupid to be carried out successfully.
6. Sandkastenfreund (sand box friend)
This is a friend that you’ve known since your childhood, regardless if you actually played in a sandbox together ;)
7. Bildungslücke (education gap)
A critical piece of information that one is expected to know at a certain point in time. If you don’t know it, you have a serious Bildungslücke.
8. Reisefieber (travel fever)
This feeling describes all the feelings of joy, excitement, anticipation and worry before a big trip.
9. Feierabend (celebration evening)
We call the time after work Feierabend (celebration evening) in German. Now, isn’t that nice? Fits nicely with the concept that Germans “work hard and party hard”. You can also say “Ich mache jetzt Feierabend” (I make Feierabend) to refer to the time when you’re getting off work.
10. Weltschmerz (World pain)
Don’t we all have it from time to time? Weltschmerz describes the state of sadness that we feel at how the world keeps falling short of expectations and how there are so many things wrong in this world.
Now it’s your turn! Teach me an idiom!