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German Sayings Translated Literally pt2 Posted by on May 16, 2016 in Language

Guten Tag, everyone!

Recently I wrote a post about the postcards you can buy in Germany which feature German idioms translated literally into English. These are somewhat of an in-joke to speakers of both languages, so I wanted to share the love and explain what they all meant! You can read that post by clicking here.

But not all German expressions are as bizarre as the ones worthy of being on a postcard. A lot of German expressions are, you’ll be pleased to hear, rather similar to their English counterparts – which makes them easier to remember. As I did last time, I’m going to post the English expressions on the left with the German expressions on the right – but they are all mixed up. Using the vocabulary list, see if you can match up the correct sayings! The answers are below the table. Good luck!

VOCABULARY

TRETEN – to tread

GEHEN – to go

DER GEIST – ghost/spirit

DIE KÖCHE – cooks

DAS HERZ – heart

LOCKER – loose

 

footprints

Fussstapfen. Photo: khrawlings on flickr.com under a CC license (CC BY 2.0)

ENGLISH SAYING

 TOO MANY COOKS SPOIL THE BROTH

 

TO FALL FLAT ON ONE’S FACE

 

TO AIR ONE’S DIRTY LAUNDRY IN PUBLIC

 

TO GIVE UP THE GHOST

 

TO HAVE A SCREW LOOSE

 

TO FOLLOW IN SOMEONE’S FOOTSTEPS

 

TO POUR ONE’S HEART OUT

 

TO BE GREEN-FINGERED

 

TO BE ON  THE SAME WAVELENGTH

 

TO GO BELOW THE BELT

 

GERMAN SAYING

DEN GEIST AUFGEBEN

 

DIE SCHMUTZIGE WÄSCHE WASCHEN

 

ZU VIELE KÖCHE VERDERBEN DEN BREI

 

AUF DERSELBEN WELLENLÄNGE SEIN

 

EINEN GRÜNEN DAUMEN HABEN

 

AUF DIE NASE FALLEN

 

IN JEMANDES FUßSTAPFEN TRETEN

 

DAS HERZ AUSSCHÜTTEN

 

EINE SCHRAUBE LOCKER HABEN

 

UNTER DIE GURTELLINIE GEHEN

 

 

How did you do? Here are the answers:

Warning: bicyclists fall on their face here

Auf die Nase fallen! Photo by quinnanya on flickr.com under a CC license (CC BY-SA 2.0)

 

 

TOO MANY COOKS SPOIL THE BROTH ——- ZU VIELE KÖCHE VERDERBEN DEN BREI
(‘Brei’ is more like ‘mash’ than ‘broth’, though. Porridge/oatmeal is ‘Haferflockenbrei’ and mashed potato is ‘Kartoffelbrei’, for example).

 

TO FALL FLAT ON ONE’S FACE —— AUF DIE NASE FALLEN
(‘To fall on one’s nose’)

 

TO AIR ONE’S DIRTY LAUNDRY IN PUBLIC ——– DIE SCHMUTZIGE WÄSCHE WASCHEN
(‘To wash dirty clothes’ – which I don’t fully understand, because why would you wash clean clothes? The longer version of this saying, ‘Die schmutzige Wäsche in der Öffentlichkeit waschen’ (‘To wash dirty laundry in public’), makes more sense)

 

TO GIVE UP THE GHOST ——– DEN GEIST AUFGEBEN

 

TO HAVE A SCREW LOOSE ——- EINE SCHRAUBE LOCKER HABEN

 

TO FOLLOW IN SOMEONE’S FOOTSTEPS ——- IN JEMANDES FUßSTAPFEN TRETEN

 

TO POUR ONE’S HEART OUT ———- DAS HERZ AUSSCHÜTTEN

 

TO BE GREEN-FINGERED ———– EINEN GRÜNEN DAUMEN HABEN
(‘To have a green thumb’ – which I believe we say in English, too, but I had to pick one or the other)

 

TO BE ON THE SAME WAVELENGTH —————- AUF DERSELBEN WELLENLÄNGE SEIN

 

TO GO BELOW THE BELT ——– UNTER DIE GURTELLINIE GEHEN
(‘To go under the belt line’)

 

Did you find this easier or harder than the previous post?

Stay tuned for part 3, in which I’ll bring you more quirky German sayings – this time it’ll be ones that we don’t have in English (though I’ll attempt to find some that are equally as amusing).

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.