German Phone Call Vocabulary

Posted on 25. Apr, 2015 by in Language

In German, speaking on the phone is called telefonieren.

Some people (like me) find telephone calls a bit scary and intimidating. They’re even moreso if you’re making a phone call in a different language! So I’ve compiled this list of useful phrases and vocabulary to help make German phone calls less scary.

Etiquette

  • When answering the phone in Germany, state your name (or just your surname) followed by a greeting of Guten Tag. Example: ‘Josef Neumaier, Guten Tag’. Some people say something more casual, like ‘Hallo, Neumaier’, and others just state their surname: ‘Neumaier’.
  • Even though you’re answering someone who’s called you, say who you are when you pick up the phone – and be sure to expect the same sort of answer when you call someone!
  • If it’s a company you’re calling, they’ll state their company name before their own name when they answer. Example: ‘Deutsche Bahn, Neumaier, Guten Tag.’
  • If it’s a friend you’re calling, you can be more informal by simply saying ‘Hallo, Birgit!’, like you would in English. This post will help you with more formal phone calls.

Now, what do you say when you’ve got them on the line? Here are a few useful phrases for making phone calls with in Germany:

Calling and asking for someone

Bell Telephone Systems 50s

Photo by blakta2 on flickr.com

 

Guten Tag, kann ich bitte mit Herrn/Frau___ sprechen? Hello, could I please speak to Mr./Mrs.___?

Guten Tag, spreche ich mit Herrn/Frau ___? Hello, am I speaking to Mr./Mrs.___?

Am Apparat. – Speaking.

 

When the person you need is unavailable

Are You There?

Sind Sie da? Are you there? Photo by renneville on flickr.com

 

Wissen Sie, wann Herrn/Frau ___ wieder erreichbar wird? – Do you know when Mr./Mrs.___ will be available?

Könnten Sie es ihm/ihr bitte sagen, dass ich angerufen habe? – Could you please let him/her know that I called?

Die Leitung ist besetzt – The line is busy.

 

Ringing back later

This is a telefon

Photo by splitbrain on flickr.com

 

Können Sie mich bitte später zurückrufen? Ich bin momentan beschäftigt. – Could you please call me back later? I’m busy at the moment.

Kann ich Ihnen zurückrufen? – Can I call you back?

Wann ist die beste Zeit, um Ihnen zurückzurufen? – When is the best time to call you back?

Unter welche Nummer sind Sie gut erreichbar? – Which number is best for me to get hold of you on?

 

What to say when you don’t understand

Life in the Past

Photo by 27888428@N00 on flickr.com

 

Können Sie bitte etwas langsamer sprechen? – Could you please speak a little slower?

Können Sie das bitte wiederholen? – Could you repeat that, please?

Können Sie das bitte buchstabieren? – Could you spell that, please?

Verzeihung. Ich spreche nur ein bisschen Deutsch. – I’m sorry. I only speak a little German.

 

Saying thank you and ending the call

Waiting a call

Photo by ravh on flickr.com

 

Vielen Dank für Ihre Hilfe – Thank you very much for your help.

Auf wiederhören – Until next time
Note: Auf wiederhören is different to Auf wiedersehen because it is specifically designed for telephone use. The hören in wiederhören is the verb ‘to hear’. The phrase literally means, ‘on hearing again’!

 

On phone numbers:

One very important thing to remember is that Germans give their telephone numbers in double digits. For example, the following telephone number:

678652

would be said like this in German:

siebenundsechzig, sechsundachtzig, zweiundfünfzig (67, 86, 52)

This might be confusing! If you get a phone number recited to you this way and you think you’ve written it down correctly (or if you have no idea!), repeat it back to the person on the phone like this:

678652: Also, das war sechs, sieben, acht, sechs, fünf, zwei. Stimmt das? – So, that was six, seven, eight, six, five, two. Is that correct?

If what you’ve said is wrong, it’s likely that you’ll be corrected in the same, easier number format. Remember, you can always use the phrases in What to say when you don’t understand (above) if you are struggling.

Related vocabulary

Das Telefon – telephone
Das Handy – mobile phone
Die (Telefon)Nummer – (telephone) number
Die Telefonkarte – phone card
Der Hörer – receiver
Die Zentrale – switchboard
Der Wählton – dialling tone
Die Taste – phone button
Die Sprachmeldung – voicemail

anrufen – to call
telefonieren – to speak on the phone
(Den Hörer) auflegen – to hang up (the phone)
(Einen Anruf) beenden – to end (a call)
warten – to wait
klingeln – to ring (the noise)
verstehen – to understand

If there are any other phone phrases you need help with, let me know in the comments!

Frohes telefonieren! x

German poetry goes Frankfurt vernacular

Posted on 21. Apr, 2015 by in Culture, Language, Literature

 

Friedrich_Stoltze

A couple of weeks ago, one of you ask me if I’m familiar with the poem “Fourteen Daughters” by Friedrich Stoltze – a German poet an writer who was famous for his poems written in Frankfurt vernacular. I have to admit that I had never heard of him before but after a quick search on Google I found what I was looking for.

Friedrich Stoltze was born in Frankfurt (Main) on 21st November 1816. He was the editor of the Frankfurter Latern, a political satirical magazine, which was publish between 1860 and 1891.

Since the majority of you is probably not that familiar with Hessian in general and the Frankfurt vernacular in particular I translated the poem “Verrzeh Döchter” into Standard German and English. But this wasn’t easy for me!

Some words and phrases caused me difficulties. I still don’t know what Barblee exactly means, but I guess it means “umbrella” or “rain hat”. Furthermore, I don’t know what the words Käwwern and Schöck mean. However, I tried my best to give you access to this funny piece of German poetry. And maybe you come from the Frankfurt area and you could help me to optimize my translations.

 

Frankfurt vernacular: Verrzeh Döchter

Verrzeh Döchter is e Sege, verrzeh Döchter is e Wonn! Verrzeh Barblee for de Rege! Verrzeh Schermcher for die Sonn! Verrzeh Regenmäntel detto! Verrzeh Paar Gallosche netto! Achtundzwanzig Gummischuh! – Himmel, gieß un regen zu!

Verrzeh Hüt mit Band un Fedder, Blumme, Käwwern, Schmetterling! Verrzeh Äärm voll Braceletter! Achtundzwanzig Händ voll Ring! Achtundzwanzig Ohrring leider! Verrzeh Brosche un so weiter! Achtundzwanzig falsche Zöpp! Verrzeh Zottelfranze-Köpp!

Verrzeh goldne Uhrn mit Kette! Ach, un Handschuh ganze Schöck! Verrzeh-verrzehmal Manschette! Hunnertverrzig Unnerröck! Vierunachzig Spitzehose! Verrzeh große Puderdose! Verrzeh venez’janische Schwämm! Enge Kämm un weite Kämm! Jetz kimmt net des klaanste Iwel vom Papa seim Haaptpläsier dieser Poste, der heeßt: Stiwel! Verrzeh Döchter en chaussure! Von so verrzeh zarte Seele, wer vermag die Strimp zu zehle daals gewebt un daals gestrickt un mit Ränftercher geschmickt?

Die Korsette un so weiter wolle gar merr net berihrn, – doch e Unglick is der Schneider! Verrzeh Döchter dut merr spirn! Moll un Woll, Kattun un Seide verrzehmal, lääft in die Kreide! Verrzeh Döchter samt de Schlepp uff en Ball, was kost deß Knepp!

Verrzeh Döchter is e Sege, e Gedanke zauwerhaft! Awwer, wer is so verwege, daß errn verrzeh Männer schafft? Verrzeh reiche, junge, scheene, hoffnungsvolle Schwiegersöhne, awwer aach, als Lohn derrfor, eine Schwiegermutter nor!

 

High German: Vierzehn Töchter

Vierzehn Töchter ist ein Segen, vierzehn Töchter ist eine Wonne! Vierzehn Schirme für den Regen! Vierzehn Schirmchen für die Sonne! Vierzehn Regenmäntel ebenso! Vierzehn Paar Schuhe nur! Achtundzwanzig Gummischuh – Himmel, gieß uns Regen zu!

Vierzehn Hüte mit Band und Feder, Blume, Käwwern, Schmetterling! Vierzehn Arme voller Ketten! Achtundzwanzig Hände voll mit Ringen! Achtundzwanzig Ohrringe kommen noch hinzu! Vierzehn Broschen und so weiter! Achtundzwanzig falsche Zöpfe! Vierzehn Zottelfransen-Köpfe!

Vierzehn goldene Uhren mit Kette! Ach, und Handschuh ganze vierzehn Paar! Vierzehn-vierzehnmal Manschetten! Hundertvierzig Unterröcke! Vierundachtzig Spitzenhöschen! Vierzehn große Puderdosen! Vierzehn venezianische Schwämme! Feine Kämme und grobe Kämme! Jetzt kommt nicht das kleinste Übel von Papas großer Freude. Dieser Posten heißt: Stiefel! Vierzehn Töchter brauchen Schuhwerk! Von so vierzehn zarten Seelen, wer vermag die Strümpfe da zu zählen, teils gewebt und teils gestrickt und mit hübscher Bordüre geschmückt.

Die Korsagen und so weiter, davon wollen wir gar nicht reden – doch ein Unglück für den Schneider! Für vierzehn Töchter muss er nähen! Kaschmir und Wolle, Baumwolle und Seide – vierzehn mal greift er zur Kreide! Vierzehn Töchter samt der Schleppe auf einem Ball, was kostet das knapp?

Vierzehn Töchter ist ein Segen, ein Gedanke zauberhaft! Aber, wer ist so verwegen, dass er vierzehn Männer schafft? Vierzehn reiche, junge, schöne, hoffnungsvolle Schwiegersöhne, aber ach, als Lohn dafür nur eine einzige Schwiegermutter!

 

English: Fourteen Daughters

Fourteen daughters are a blessing! Fourteen daughters are a joy! Fourteen umbrellas for the rain! Fourteen parasols for the sun! Fourteen raincoats as well! Only fourteen pairs of boots! Twenty-eight gumboots – Heaven, pour down rain to us!

Fourteen hats with ribbon and feather, flower, Käwwern, butterfly! Fourteen arms with bracelets! Twenty-eight hands with rings! And twenty-eight earrings furthermore! Fourteen brooches and so on! Twenty-eight synthetic plaits of hair! Fourteen shaggy and fringy heads!

Fourteen golden watches with chains! Alas, and gloves – entirely fourteen pairs! Fourteen-fourteen(!) pairs of wristbands. One hundred forty underskirts! Eighty-four lace panties! Fourteen large powder boxes! Fourteen Venetian applicators! Narrow combs and wider combs! And now – this is not the smallest misery of daddy’s pleasure – we come to the boots! Fourteen daughters need footwear! And such fourteen tender souls, who might count the stockings, partly woven an partly knitted and decorated with a nice border.

The corsages and so on – let’s do not talk about that! But what a misfortune for the tailor! For fourteen daughters he has to sew. Cashmere and wool, cotton and silk – fourteen times he has to grasp the chalk! Fourteen daughters along with a train at a ball – how much is this at all?

Fourteen daughters are a blessing, a thought so enchantingly! But, who is this adventurous to create fourteen husbands? Fourteen rich, young, handsome, hopeful sons-in-law. But alas, in recompense just one mother-in-law!

Catholicism In The Bavarian Language

Posted on 20. Apr, 2015 by in Culture, Language

Wegkreuz 1

Photo by 129501455@N02 on flickr.com

 

Bavaria is a predominantly Catholic part of Germany. While this is evident in its culture, architecture and religious rituals, it is also evident in its language. To explain, I’m going to take some simple Bavarian phrases and expressions and show you the religious meanings behind them.

For all examples I’ve included the Hochdeutsch (Standard or High German) first, then the Bairisch (Bavarian) equivalent, followed by a short explanation.

SAYING HELLO

In Hochdeutsch: Guten Tag (Hello/Good day)
In Bairisch: Griaß God/Griaß di/Servus

Griaß God is a typical greeting in Bavaria. As you may be able to tell, by saying Griaß God you are literally saying May God greet you rather than just hello or good day (as in Guten Tag) There is a way of saying this in Hochdeutsch, too: Grüß Gott. Somebody once told me that they could tell my family came from southern Germany, because I greeted them with Grüß Gott rather than with Guten Tag! That is how revealing the dialects within Germany can be.
Griaß di is a secular way of saying hello (literally: Greet you), and would be Grüß dich in Hochdeutsch.
Servus is another typically Bavarian greeting, and one which means hello and goodbye. It is more colloquial than the previous two, and mostly used between friends and family.

 

SAYING GOODBYE

In Hochdeutsch: Auf Wiedersehen / Tschüß
In Bairisch: Pfiat God / Pfiat di

Pfiat God follows the same pattern as Griaß God.
Pfiat di is more colloquial, with di being short for dich (you).
As you can see, Pfiat God and Pfiat di look nothing like Auf Wiedersehen or Tschüß. There are two possible origins of this phrase. The first is that Pfiat God comes from the German Führe dich Gott, which means May God lead you. The second is that Pfiat God comes from the German Behüte dich Gott, which means May God protect you. It is possible to see how the words Führe and Behüte have morphed into Bavarian versions of themselves:
Führe > Fiat > Pfiat …. Behüte > Bhiat > Pfiat

 

BLESSINGS

In Hochdeutsch: Gesundheit!
In Bairisch: Heif di God!

When someone sneezes, you say Bless you! in English. In Hochdeutsch, you say Gesundheit! which literally means Health!
In Bairisch, however, you say Heif di God! which translates to Hilf dir Gott! or Gott hilf dir – in other words, May God help you! What’s interesting is that the English bless you is much more similar to the religious Bavarian translation than the secular Hochdeutsch one.

There is also the phrase Vergeit’s God (Vergelte es Gott in Hochdeutsch), also sometimes shortened to Geit’s God, which is used in Bavaria as an alternative to Thank you. It literally means May God repay you. If someone says Vergeit’s God to you, you respond with Segn’s God (Segne es Gott in Hochdeutsch), which means Bless you/you’re welcome.

Vergelt's Gott!

This is a donation box in a church. Give 50 cents to light a candle for the dead. Vergelt’s Gott! Photo by barockschloss on flickr.com

 

 

EXPRESSING FRUSTRATION OR ANNOYANCE

In Hochdeutsch: Scheiße (shit), Mist (crap), Verdammt (damn it)
In Bairisch: Kruzifix Nomoi (‘crucifix again’), Zifix (‘crucifix’ – abbreviated version), Bluad Zakrament (‘blood sacrament’), Pfui Deifi (‘yuck devil’ – when you see/smell something disgusting)

 

In Catholic Bavaria the worst form of swearing is not actually swearing itself; it’s blasphemy. Words like Scheiße do not have as much of an impact as blasphemous words, so if Bavarians really want to express their anger and frustration, it’s likely that one of these religious phrases above will jump out of their mouths, instead. In fact, Scheiße hardly has any impact in Bavarian everyday conversation. When I was a kid I could freely say Dieses Scheiß-Wetter, for example (‘this shitty weather’) without anyone batting an eyelid, but as soon as I said Bluad Zakrament! I was promptly told to watch my language and never say that again!

 

I hope this post has been interesting. As always, if you have any questions or suggestions, please leave me a comment! I love reading them!

Bis bald,

Constanze