Proverbial Nonsense / Sprichwörtlicher Unsinn


Click on the image to enlarge

Proverbs are short and popular sayings, which are in widespread use and express a basic truth.

Usually proverbs are of unknown origin and are often metaphorical.

Proverbs exist in all languages, although when translated they often make little or no sense.

Here are some examples of German sayings translated into English:

  • Jemandem auf den Keks gehen (to get on somebody’s nerves) = to walk somebody on the cookie
  • Aus allen Wolken fallen (to be taken by surprise) = to fall from all the clouds
  • Schwamm drüber (no hard feelings) = sponge over
  • Ich verstehe nur Bahnhof (it’s all Greek to me) = I only understand train-station
  • Mit ihm ist nicht gut Kirschen essen (He’s not an easy man to deal with) = it’s not good eating cherries with him
  • Man kann nicht über seinen eigenen Schatten springen (a leopard can’t change his spots) = you can’t jump over your own shadow
  • Trautes Heim, Glück allein (home, sweet home) = cozy home, luck alone

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Sprichwörter sind kurze und beliebte Sprüche, die in allgemeine Benutzung sind und eine Grundwahrheit ausdrücken.

Normalerweise sind die Ursprünge von Sprichwörtern unbekannt und oft sind sie metaphorisch.

Sprichwörter existieren in alle Sprachen, obwohl wenn übersetzt, ergeben sie oft wenig oder gar keinen Sinn.

Hier sind einige  Beispiele von deutschen Sprüchen, die ins Englisch übersetzt wurden:

  • Jemandem auf den Keks gehen (jemand zu nerven) = to walk somebody on the cookie
  • Aus allen Wolken fallen (sich völlig überraschen) = to fall from all the clouds
  • Schwamm drüber (Vergiss es!/Lass es doch!) = sponge over
  • Ich verstehe nur Bahnhof (ich verstehe gar nichts) = I only understand train-station
  • Mit ihm ist nicht gut Kirschen essen (es ist nicht einfach ihm zu behandeln) = it’s not good eating cherries with him
  • Man kann nicht über seinen eigenen Schatten springen (man kann nicht die Persönlichkeit ändern) = you can’t jump over your own shadow
  • Trautes Heim, Glück allein (das Heim ist den besten Ort) = cozy home, luck alone

The Voice of Seuss


Raise your hand if you think language is fun? …Seriously guys, I’m the only one with my hand in the air here… This is awkward.

Although he’s no longer with us, I believe that if Theodor Seuss Geisel was here today he would be the first to agree with me. You’re probably wondering who this Mr. Geisel is. Well I’ll give you a clue:

He’s a man who loves Green Eggs and Ham, is friends with the Grinch and Horton, and has a Cat who wears a Hat.

Yes, you’ve guessed it- Theodor Geisel was best known under his pen name, Dr. Seuss.

I’m pretty sure most people have heard of Dr. Seuss and, if you’re anything like me, the first thing you’ll think of when you hear his name is colourful droopy drawings and fun characters. However many of his books also contain much deeper messages and morals on social and political issues (Click on the above picture for some examples).

Here’re just a few of his great sayings and links to some of his poems:

“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind”

“Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple”

“Being crazy ins’t enough”

“Adults are just obsolete children and the hell with them”

“A person’s a person, no matter how small” (I particularly like this one, as I myself am not exactly the tallest!)

Contra to popular belief, I’m still alive!


I must apologise for the lack of blog-activity as of late. I’m sure you were all anxious wondering where I had disappeared off to.


Oh… you weren’t actually worried about my whereabouts at all… hmm, well then.

Anyway, disappointment aside ~I kid of course~ I’m back! I don’t know what happened me lately, I just couldn’t think  of anything to write about. I feel like a bad blogger, or does this happen to other people aswell?

Today I came across an article that I liked and as I was thinking to myself, “Who would appreciate this article?”, I thought of you guys! I mean this is (supposed to be) a language blog after all!

So here it is: 14 Words That Are Their Own opposites 🙂 (#6. is my favourite!)



P.S. did you know that the term used to describe a word that can be its own opposite is called a contranym or auto-antonym? Well now you do! 🙂

Sounds like…


The German language is not exactly renowned for sounding romantic. It is actually renowned for sounding the exact opposite: unromantic.

My work colleagues and I went out last night, and this topic came up in conversation.
Colleague #1: “So, how do you find the German language to speak?”
Me: “It’s not easy… there are a lot of difficult sounds to try and master”
Colleague #2: “Like what?”
Me: “Well, you’ve got the shhh, zzzz, cchhh, tssss and *general guttural sound*”
Colleagues #1 and #2: *look at each other and then start laughing*
Colleague #1: “Oh my goodness, you’re right! And those sounds come up all the time in German. In some words you even have a few of those sounds put together- that must be really hard!”
Me: *nodding emphatically* “YES!! It is hard! Like trying to pronounce… eh…”

And that was it. I couldn’t think of any words! How pathetic is that? I struggle most days with German words that I cannot pronounce, and yet when it comes to giving an example of one measly tongue-twister, I am utterly stumped!

However, since then I have thought of several and I am also looking for more suggestions from you guys out there. Here are just some I’ve come across:

Streichholzschächtelchen (little box of matches*)
Ausschließlich (exclusively)
Schlittschuhlaufen (skating)
Eichhörnchen (squirrel)
Geschwächt (weak)
And even the very basic
Szene (scene)

*By the way, before anyone gets all “Ooh, but how often do you need to say ‘little box of matches’ in German, really?”, I know it’s not something you’re going to need to say every day, I was just including it for the purpose of demonstration.

Also here are just two links pertaining to Germany and the German language itself, which I find very funny ~No disrespect intended, it’s just a bit of fun~
Sarah Chalke (Elliot from Scrubs) speaking German
Dylan Moran on Germany

Bis später!

I’m not dead, I swear!

…Although I could be, judging by my lack of posts lately! Sorry to have gotten so lazy, but it was the weekend (and I don’t work on weekends) and then I just decided to elongate my weekend that little bit further! 😛 Oops! Anyway, I know this is totally unforgievable and I’m a bad person etc. etc. but I’m just hoping these pics tie me over for today, and then I’ll go back to being a diligent little blogger tomorrow, I promise! 🙂 Two are for the German-speakers out there, and the other two are just a little language humour!

Enjoy & viel Spaß!

Einstein  mistake2



A word paints a thousand pictures


Translating is an art form (as far as I’m concerned anyway). Everyone thinks that translating is so easy and that all you need to do is speak a few languages and then fluidly alternate between English and German and French and Japanese. Gee, yes- that sounds like something I could do in my sleep, give me a real challenge.

God some people are ignorant! Firstly, that’s interpreting. And yes, there’s actually a difference between interpreting and translating, but that’s for another post/rant. Secondly, I’d like to see these people, who supposedly think that translating is a job any nit-wit could do, actually do it.

Yes, you there- the condescending person who believes being fluent in more than 2 languages is a fairly meager accomplishment; Step right up. The name of the game is “Is it still easy?” and here’s how it goes.

1. You read a text in your native tongue
2. You are given a target language, which you are then to translate the text into
3. You have to translate not just gist or rough ideas, but every word on the page
4. You will have to rephrase sentences so that they make sense in the target language
5. You must remember that grammar, syntax and tense are very important
6. You will more than likely have a deadline for this task (it is normally around the time when you slam your head down on the table)

Do you still want to play? …No? Didn’t think so!

I’m being jovial course, but I’m just trying to prove a point here. Translation -and the people who spend hours translating various products/documents/etc.- should be given credit where credit is due. It’s not something to be overlooked. I mean where would we be without the hard work of diligent translators, who enable discussions between different-speaking nations to take place; the translators who make sure that children (and probably grown-ups too) in China, Latvia, Spain and approximately 65 other countries can enjoy reading the Harry Potter books as well*; and the translators that provide accurate ingredient-lists for infinite foods, making sure you don’t have a reaction because you’re allergic to الفول السوداني (bet you didn’t know that was Arabic for ‘peanuts’; doesn’t exactly look like it now, does it?).

*I’ve just realized that that sounds like I enjoyed the Harry Potter books myself and I feel I should point out here that I did not. Well, it wasn’t even so much that I didn’t enjoy them… Just that they were coming to the cinema in film-form faster than I was reading the books, so there didn’t really seem much point!

Anyhoo, my point is (and yes there is a point nestled beneath all this aggressive Irishness!) that translating is not for the faint-hearted. It is a process which requires much skill, knowledge and patience on the part of the translator. It doesn’t take much to say something eloquently in your own language, but it takes a lot more to say phrase it just as poignantly in another.


All translators (nah, just Claire) 😉 xx


Fluffy blankets here I come!

Fluffy blankets here I come!

That’s right ladies and gentlemen, it’s official: I’m sick.

I thought I had a sore throat when I was coming back from Ireland, but I was kind of hoping it was just the air from the plane being dry and full of other people’s germs, as it usually is. Maybe that’s where I caught this cold from actually… damn other people!
Anyhoo, I’m sneezing now like there’s no tomorrow and I have to do a big *sniff* in to try and breathe roughly every five seconds, which I know is probably driving my work colleagues demented (sorry guys!) but I need to breathe and when I breathe through my mouth I look like I’m trying to impersonate a bubble fish. No lie.
So, what I’m looking for are some quick and effective ways to beat the cold out of my system. Whether it’s food/drinks that help, something I can take, or even a chant to the Medical God- I’m willing to give anything a shot!

Thanks in advance for any help you might have,

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