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German Sayings Translated Literally (pt1) Posted by on May 12, 2016 in Language

Guten Tag, everyone!

Today I want to teach you a bunch of German sayings and expressions. You can buy postcards in Germany that are literal English translations of popular German idioms. Perhaps you’ve seen or bought one of these already, but in case you haven’t, one of these postcards reads:

‘ONLY THE HARD COME IN THE GARDEN’

This is the literal translation of the German idiom ‘Nur die Harten kommen in den Garten’, which means ‘Only the strongest survive’ or ‘Survival of the fittest’. (Unfortunately I can’t post a photo here due to copyright reasons, but if you type ‘German postcards translated literally’ into a search engine, you’ll see some of these postcards for yourself.)

The thing is, these postcards are only funny if you speak German and English, so I thought I’d show you all what they mean. 🙂 Using the following vocabulary, see if you can match up the correct postcard phrase to the original German! The answers are underneath the table.

Urban Bunny

‘Now I know how the bunny runs’. Photo: j_benson on flickr.com under a CC license (CC BY 2.0)

VOCABULARY

DER KEKS – cookie

DER HASE – rabbit/bunny

DIE SPINNE – spider

HÖREN – to hear

GLAUBEN – to believe

NUR – only

 

POSTCARD PHRASE

 

YOU CAN ME ONCE
(Do one/Bite me)

 

 

HOW HORNY IS THAT THEN?
(How cool is that?)

 

 

ONLY THE HARD COME IN THE GARDEN
(Only the strongest survive)

 

 

NOW I KNOW HOW THE BUNNY RUNS
(Now I understand/I get the message)

 

 

I BELIEVE I SPIDER
(I think I’m going nuts)

 

 

HEAR UP WITH THE AROUNDEGGERY
(Stop fooling around)

 

 

YOU GO ME ANIMALLY ON THE COOKIE
(You’re driving me insane)

 

 

NOW MAKE BUT ONCE HALFLONG
(Now tell me again without exaggerating)

 

 

ORIGINAL GERMAN SAYING

 

 

DU GEHST MIR TIERISCH AUF DEN KEKS

 

 

DU KANNST MICH MAL

 

 

WIE GEIL IST DAS DENN?

 

 

ICH GLAUBE ICH SPINNE

 

 

NUR DIE HARTEN KOMMEN IN DEN GARTEN

 

 

 

JETZT WEIß ICH WIE DER HASE LÄUFT

 

 

 

JETZT MACH ABER MAL HALBLANG

 

 

 

HÖR AUF MIT DER HERUMEIEREI

How did you do? Here are the answers:

 

Cookies

‘You go me animally on the cookie’. Photo by aigle_dore on flickr.com under a CC license (CC BY 2.0)

 

 

 

YOU CAN ME ONCE ———– DU KANNST MICH MAL
(Do one/Bite me)

 

HOW HORNY IS THAT THEN? ———– WIE GEIL IST DAS DENN?
(How cool is that?)

 

ONLY THE HARD COME IN THE GARDEN ————
NUR DIE HARTEN KOMMEN IN DEN GARTEN
(Only the strongest survive)

 

NOW I KNOW HOW THE BUNNY RUNS –—————-
JETZT WEIß ICH WIE DER HASE LÄUFT
(Now I understand/I get the message)

 

I BELIEVE I SPIDER ————- ICH GLAUBE ICH SPINNE
(I think I’m going nuts)

 

HEAR UP WITH THE AROUNDEGGERY ——————-
HÖR AUF MIT DER HERUMEIEREI
(Stop fooling around)

 

YOU GO ME ANIMALLY ON THE COOKIE ————
DU GEHST MIR TIERISCH AUF DEN KEKS
(You’re driving me insane)

 

NOW MAKE BUT ONCE HALFLONG ———————–
JETZT MACH ABER MAL HALBLANG
(Now tell me again but without exaggerating)

 

What do you think of these sayings? Which one is your favourite? Stay tuned for the second part of this post, in which I will teach you the German sayings that are very similar to their English counterparts.

Bis bald,

Constanze

 

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About the Author:Constanze

Servus! I'm Constanze. I'm half English and half German. I write here because I'm passionate about my languages and my roots. I also work as a translator & group fitness instructor.


Comments:

  1. stephen barden:

    Ok, so I actually laughed out loud with this one. Really funny -and it puts a couple of sayings I’ve thought I’ve understood into a completely new light!

    • Constanze:

      @stephen barden Glad you enjoyed it, Stephen! Stay tuned for more 🙂 (post 2 is up already!) x

  2. alcazar:

    Very funny indeed.
    Those postcards remind on the old book “English for Run-Aways | Englisch für Fortgeschrittene” where german sayings and expressions were translated literally.
    (Like “My dear Mr. Singing Club for Mein lieber Herr Gesangsverein 🙂

    • Constanze:

      @alcazar That sounds funny, I’ll have to see if I can get a hold of that book! Thanks & glad you enjoyed the post! 🙂

  3. John Surja:

    Dear Constanze.

    I really enjoy German Sayings Translated Literally part 1, it’s really improve my vocabulary and the sentence structure Please send me the following post part 2; 3 and so on. Thank you for your kind attention.
    I really enjoy it.

    Sincerely
    John