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Today’s ‘untranslatable words’ theme is all about driving, and today I’ve got two words for you instead of one!
Germany is famous for producing high quality Autos (cars) and for its Autobahn (motorway) – more specifically, for the lack of a speed limit on most German motorways.
But if you’re hitting the road in Germany, here are two terms you might not be familiar with yet! Both describe phenomena common to any country, but the Germans have specific words for them. Let’s get started with der Schilderwald.
Made up of the words die Schilder (signs – plural of das Schild) and der Wald (forest/wood), this word literally means ‘a sign forest’. What does this refer to on the road, exactly? It refers to a cluster of road signs – those that are often so close together, it becomes a little difficult to see what you’re looking at. You might say you are ‘missing the wood for the trees’! The (regular) collective word for road signs is die Verkehrsschildern – literally ‘traffic signs’. Have you ever seen a Schilderwald while driving, either in Germany or elsewhere? Then I’m sure you’ll understand why this quirky word exists in German!
There is a roundabout where I live that sits just outside a shopping complex. This roundabout can get so congested that the only way to keep traffic moving is to ignore the usual rights of way and to simply take it in turns to join lanes. This is what the Germans call a Reißverschlusssystem – literally, ‘zip system’. Why? Because the way the cars interlock mimics the interlocking of a zip’s teeth as you close it! The Reißverschlusssystem is often used on German motorways when traffic is extremely bad. The word is made up of the words der Reißverschluss (zip) and das System (system). Now I’ll bet you won’t be able to think of anything else the next time you’re in a Reißverschlusssystem situation!
Have you ever driven in Germany? How did you find it? As always, leave your comments below! I hope you’ve enjoyed this post!
Oh, and Frohe Ostern – Happy Easter!