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! 🙂

And then she wrote…


Another very quickly thrown-together poem. I promise I’ll try harder next time.

As always, x

No feeling is greater

Than a pen nestled snuggly between one finger

And the next

Whether its purpose is for doodling

Taking notes

Or simply writing text

A sturdy object

Elegant yet strong

It writes

Takes no notice

Of brightest days

Or darkest nights

Is there to jot down

Ideas, thoughts

And still

Must never be recharged

But works gladly

At your will

The pen is humble

Never asks for much

Is grateful merely

Of its owner’s touch

One day it will stop

Abrupt mid-word

And die

Then to the unassuming pen

We must sign

Our last goodbye.

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!

A word a day keeps nonsense at bay

An example of mondegreen

An example of mondegreen

After a fellow blogger told me about A.Word.A.Day and their free daily newsletter, I signed up. In return for my meager email address, I was provided with a “word of the day”, its pronunciation, meaning, etymology and usage. It’s actually a really interesting way to learn a word a day. Obviously some of the words I would have known previously, but it’s still cool to learn where the word originated from. In some cases, you even find out that the definition you thought you knew for a particular word actually differs from what that word really means. Basically, I’m a bit of a nerd and I think it’s kind of fun to learn some new lingo!

So here’s one of the new words that I learned recently: mondegreen.

Turns out that I knew what mondegreen was before I learned that there was a term for it! So here’s the low-down on mondegreen:

Meaning noun: A word or phrase resulting from mishearing a word or phrase, especially in song lyrics. For example: “The girl with colitis goes by” for “The girl with kaleidoscope eyes” in the Beatles song “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds”.

I’m not going to go into etymology and usage and all that jazz now, you can check it out here if you’re really interested.

The reason I’m harping on about mondegreen is because there have been countless occasions in my life where I have been listening to a song, misheard the lyrics, and sung instead what I thought I heard, but inherently I was just making up my own lyrics! Some examples follow:

Elvis Presley’s “Hound Dog” – I would sing “You ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog, crying Shirley Lime”, instead of “crying all the time” (apparently I thought Shirley Lime was a person Elvis was calling!)
Rihanna’s “Unfaithful ” – I would sing “I don’t wanna be your mother”, instead of “a murderer” (Wow RiRi, low blow!)
The Jackson 5’s “Blame it on the Boogie” – I would sing “Blame a lemon boogie”, instead of “Blame it on the boogie” (I don’t even know where that one came from!!)

So if there’s anyone out there with a mondegreen of their own that they’d like to share with the group, then by all means- share away! I’d love to hear ‘em, probably in the hope that they’d make mine seem less stupid! So thanks in advance you guys!

As always, love xx

Lost in Translation

You have a point, Philosoraptor!

You have a point, Philosoraptor!

Have you ever said to someone “How do you say ____ in X language?”

If you have, chances are you’ll have been met with one of three responses:
1.) “In X language you would say ____”.
2.) “Sorry, I don’t know”.
3.) “There’s actually no translation for that”.

Today I’m going to be focusing on response #3: Untranslatability.

Certain words have no one direct translation and instead depend on several words, or even full sentences, to get their meaning across. Here are 10 examples of “untranslatable” words for you:

-Schadenfreude German meaning the feeling of satisfaction derived from another person’s misfortune
-Prozvonit Czech & Slovak meaning to call a mobile phone and only let it ring once so that the other person rings you back and you don’t have to spend any of your money (sneaky, but I like it!)
-Cafuné Brazilian Portuguese meaning to tenderly run your fingers through someone’s hair
-Dépaysement French meaning the feeling (of disorientation) that comes from not being in your home country (I definitely relate to this one!)
-Saudade Portuguese meaning the nostalgic feeling of longing for someone or something that you love and which is lost
-Torschlusspanik German meaning the fear of diminishing opportunities as you age/time running out
-Razlyubit Russian meaning the feeling for someone you once loved but no longer do
-Tartle Scottish meaning to hesitate while introducing someone because you’ve forgotten their name (trés awkard!)
-Waldeinsamkeit German meaning the feeling of being alone in the woods
And finally, surely the cutest untranslatable word ever:
-Koi no yokan Japanese meaning the sense one can have upon first meeting another person that the two of them are going to fall in love (AWW!!)

If you know any other “untranslatable” words, then share them below (with a quick definition please!)
Until next time, tschüss! 🙂

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