Untranslatable German Words: Die Knoblauchfahne Posted by Constanze on Jun 30, 2015 in Language
Today I’m going to talk about bad breath. As you do. Let me introduce you to your new, untranslatable German word: Die Knoblauchfahne.
What does Knoblauchfahne mean?
Die Knoblauchfahne means, quite simply, garlic breath! I know this seems like an easy word to translate and in some ways it is, but like all quirky German words it has a little more to it than meets the eye! Read on and you’ll see what I mean.
What is the literal translation of Knoblauchfahne?
Die Knoblauchfahne splits into two words: Der Knoblauch (garlic) and Die Fahne (flag). So its literal translation is garlic flag. Why a flag, you might ask? Well, a flag blows in the wind- much like garlic breath seems to waft around every time somebody opens their mouth.
This word is very versatile and can be used with any cause of bad breath. Some examples are:
Die Alkoholfahne – alcohol breath (general)
Die Schnapsfahne – alcohol breath (literally ‘schnaps breath’, referring to any strong liquor)
Die Zigarettenfahne – cigarette breath
Die Kaffeefahne – coffee breath
Die Morgenfahne – morning breath
Basically, just take whatever you can smell on the person’s breath and add the word Fahne onto the end of it. Voila, you have yourself an untranslatable German word for a very specific type of bad breath!
You can also use the word Die Fahne as a general term for bad breath (usually alcohol-related). Obviously, whether you are talking about bad breath or a real flag will depend on the context. 😉
How would you use Knoblauchfahne in a sentence?
“Mensch, du hast ‘ne Knoblauchfahne!” – My God, you’ve got a garlic flag!
“Mensch, du hast ‘ne Fahne!” – My God, your breath stinks! (usually alcohol-related)
What is the nearest English enquivalent to Knoblauchfahne?
Obviously, the nearest equivalent is garlic breath! But the general term for bad breath in English is halitosis, which is Der Mundgeruch (‘the mouth smell’) in German. So in a way, this is not a truly untranslatable German word – but I think it’s versatile and interesting enough to include as one!
As always, I hope you’ve enjoyed this post!
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