German-English Dictionary, Part 1

Bier (n): The first word in any German dictionary. Consumed in mass quantities. Generally comes in two sizes: half liter (slightly bigger than a pint) and liter (fucking huge). Which leads to hilarity when Germans come to the U.S. and attempt to order a half liter (“approximately 20 ounces”) of Yuengling. The beer selection in Berlin is a bit broader than in Munich, but, in my opinion, not quite as good. The Weissbier (wheat beer, very popular in the summer) here mostly comes from Bavaria, but there’s also lots of pilsner (some Czech) and other stuff. Certainly cheaper than in the U.S., but given the quantities consumed, takes a bite out of one’s wallet.

Englisch (n): The German language is peppered with it. Some of it’s so basic, you wonder why they don’t just use the German word (“strange,” for instance). Other times, you get weird complex nouns — I came across the word “Marketingevent” in a leading German newspaper. And there are plenty of outright misappropriations of English words. To Germans, a cell phone is a “handy,” and they’re only just now starting to figure out why Americans are so confused when they talk about their handys. And the names of nearly all of my roommates’ many soap and skin-care products contain the not-so-reassuring word “peeling.”

Haushaltsgeräte (pl. n): appliances. In Germany, they tend to be very small. The oven here is closer to the size of a little girl’s play oven than to that of the mammoth ones in most American kitchens. Likewise with the fridge. The stove requires a lighter and a rather lengthy process to ignite. I’m not sure the washing machine could hold a queen-size blanket, but no matter, it’s broken anyway. As in many German households, there’s no dryer or dishwasher or garbage disposal. Life here is, in some ways (cuisine, public transit, work hours, government benefits), more luxurious than in America. But comfort and convenience aren’t among those ways. And when it comes to household appliances, not all first-world countries are created equal.

Pazifismus (n): Before Afghanistan, Germany hadn’t fought in any war since World War II. Now, the war in Afghanistan is probably the biggest topic of political debate in Germany — despite the fact that there are only 4,000 German troops in Afghanistan, and that following the Kunduz incident, German soldiers don’t even open fire there anymore.

A couple of public anti-war messages I’ve spotted:

"German soldiers out of Africa," on Skalitzer Str. in Kreuzberg

The "lefty terrorist nest" broadcasts the message: "Soldiers are murderers." Berlin Mitte, near Rosenthaler Platz.

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