Tag Archives: Language

Funny German Expressions: How to Say Something “Makes a Lot of Sense”


“Wait… German doesn’t make any sense at all!” — Image Credit: David Goehring (https://www.flickr.com/photos/carbonnyc/) — Subject to CC 2.0 License

My wife is a very busy woman. She’s a Gymnasium teacher here in Hannover, Germany, and she works long hours both at school and at home. She puts in some serious overtime grading tests and organizing her lesson plans each night — in part because she’s German, and obsessive attention to detail seems to have a stranglehold on her DNA — but also because she’s just really passionate about her subject. (She teaches philosophy, and she has a major she-boner for Plato.)

This is all great and wonderful. I’m very proud of her. But with so much dedication to work, sometimes the little tasks in life are put on hold — like writing thank you cards after the holidays. Personally, I like to get this over with as soon as humanly possible. We’re talking January 15th here, at the latest. My wife, on the other hand, approaches thank you cards with an attitude closer to, Fuck it, either my awesome American husband will do it for me, or they’ll just write themselves.

So after the holidays last year, when the thank you cards had been sitting on her desk for like 2 months even though I’d already written them and all she had to do was sign them, god dammit, she finally got around to it. She’d taken the time to write some really meaningful, thoughtful words of gratitude, and signed them all with a flourish. Then, when she handed them back to me, she declared:

“Sometimes I take forever to write something, but when I do, it has arms and legs.”

*From the German expression, “Es hat Hand und Fuß,” which translates figuratively to “It makes a lot of sense,” or “It is worthwhile,” but translates literally to “It has hand and foot.”



Reader Survey: Should I Self-Publish a Book Based upon My Blog, ‘Oh God, My Wife Is German.’?

bad writing writers block funny frustrated author

“Help me. Oh please God help me.” — Image Credit: Drew Coffman (https://www.flickr.com/photos/drewcoffman/) — Image subject to CC 2.0 License.

Hello, my dear, devoted and totally awesome readers. I need your help:

For a few years now, I’ve been considering writing a self-published book stemming from this blog, but I need some information from you first before I embark on such a ridiculous adventure. Below is a survey which will help me out a lot as I make my decision. Would you mind taking like 5 seconds out of your day to answer a few questions?

If so: you rule. If not: that’s okay too (dick). But as you answer, please assume the following:

  1. The book would contain 100% sarcastic humor, just like this blog.
  2. It would tell the story beginning from the moment my German wife and I met in the United States, right on up to today, as we live together in Hannover, Germany.
  3. It would contain several of my wife’s very best Denglish quotes. (A ‘greatest hits’ type section, if you will.)
  4. It would weave my most traumatic culture shock experiences throughout the story.
  5. It would NOT be a simple regurgitation of the posts you’ve already read on this blog.
  6. It would be completely hilarious. (I hope. Because if it’s not, I will throw myself off the nearest bridge.)

With these things in mind, here we go!


That’s it! So, uh… thank you very much for your time!

Bunny with a pancake on its head

“Seriously though: THANK YOU. You guys rock.” — Image Credit: Andreas Matern (https://www.flickr.com/photos/amatern/) — Subject to CC 2.0 License. (Text added by me, though it is hardly original.)

Oh, and if you can think of anything else I’ve forgotten or might consider in terms of self-publishing, please leave me a note in the comments section below.

Have an awesome week everyone! YEAH!!


Sexy Plato: My German Wife on Teaching Philosophy to 10th Graders


Meet Plato: Socrates’ little sex kitten. — Photo Credit: aaron wolpert (https://www.flickr.com/photos/aaron_wolpert/) — Subject to CC 2.0 License

My wife is German, and she is a great big nerd. Good-looking, but a nerd nonetheless. Specifically, she is a philosophy nerd; you know, the ones who are super smart but somehow fail to notice the gaping void where their post-college job opportunities should be? Luckily, my wife saw that disaster coming and rolled her love of philosophy into a second master’s degree, which allowed her to land an awesome job teaching philosophy to Gymnasium students here in Hannover, Germany. (To be fair, I’m a nerd too, but I’m more the Computer/Sci-Fi/Fantasy type. Also, I wear hoodies 24/7 because they’re the next best thing to a cloak of invisibility.)

As it turns out, my wife is not only freakishly passionate about philosophy, but she’s passionate about teaching it too. She spends countless hours after work preparing lessons and materials for her students, even though I keep telling her teenagers are nothing but a bunch of filthy, stinking ingrates who don’t deserve her extra efforts and we should totally be re-watching episodes of Firefly instead goddammit.

So one evening, after she’d spent over 2 hours making extra materials for her 10th graders, my wife said she would be teaching them about the subjects of death and dying. Personally, I would have loved to sit in on that class, but she wasn’t terribly excited about it. You see, her favorite topics come from the Classical Greek philosophers — Plato, in particular. She could talk about that fruity Grecian forever. (And she does — which is why I no longer ask anything about him unless I want to wipe my schedule clean for the rest of the day.)

Anyway, she went on to explain how the curriculum required her to discuss the larger, more general themes with her students first — like mortality — rather than diving straight into the specific works of the ancient philosophers. And she clarified this point in surprisingly graphic fashion:

“I would rather teach them about Plato, but you know how when you want to have sexy time, you don’t just stick it in — you need to have some foreplay first.”



How to Horrify an American with One Easy German Expression

Scary Horrified German Man

“God damn, dude. Did you really have to go THERE?” — Image Credit: Vik Nanda (https://www.flickr.com/photos/viknanda/) — Subject to CC 2.0 License.

A while back, my German wife purchased some cheap-ass insoles from Mäc-Geiz. (Mäc-Geiz is kind of like a dollar store here in Germany, or a variety store, if you want to make it sound a little less awful.) She wanted to put the insoles in her shoes so they would be more comfortable, and she bought an extra pair for me too. I thought this was nice, and I totally intended to try them out, but these insoles were huge — the kind you have to cut down to size with scissors before they’ll fit into your shoes. I could never quite muster the energy to do this, so the insoles sat in my office for the next several months. Finally, after my wife had blown through her own dollar store insoles, she asked for my pair back. I handed them to her and asked if she would be cutting them down to size. She looked at me like I was the dumbest motherfucker on the planet and said:

“Of course. How big do you think my feet are?
Like I’m wearing kids coffins?”

*From the slang German expression, “Deine Schuhe sind so groß – voll die Kindersärge,” which translates literally (and horrifyingly) to “Your shoes are so big – totally like children’s coffins.”



“Dropping Trow” – My German Wife Destroys yet Another Classic Phrase from American Slang


“Oh, you need to ‘use the restroom’? I’m sorry, but we only speak AMERICAN in this house.” — Image Credit: Joseph Choi (https://www.flickr.com/photos/josephers/) — Subject to CC 2.0 License. Edited for contrast.

Not only am I an American graphic designer, but I am also a professional writer, blogger and editor. Reading is my absolute favorite hobby, and when it comes to the English language, my tastes are both widespread and discerning. Therefore, you might reasonably assume I would refrain from all things linguistically crude or lowbrow, but you would be very wrong: I swear like a motherfucker.

Not only do I swear, but I use a remarkable amount of slang too: vulgar phrases, nonsensical jargon and stylistic idioms are all frequent aspects of my everyday speech. This might make me an amusing conversationalist for some, but it plays hell with my German wife’s ongoing education in the English language.

Let’s say I need to use the restroom for the specific purpose of evacuating my bowels. I won’t just saunter away quietly and do my business like a normal person. No, I will loudly announce my intentions to my wife in a manner which maximizes their vulgarity. For example, I might run down the staircase screaming, “Oh sweet Jesus, I gotta take a shiiiiiiiiiiiiiit…” or “Outta the way, sweetheart; I’m about to blast hot lava all up in this bitch,” or “Mother of God, my puckering anus can no longer contain the vile spirits within!”

And then there are the old classic sayings, like “drop a deuce,” “lose some weight,” or “lay some pipe.” I like to use these every once in a while just to keep things classy. So the other week, I kept saying to my wife, “I gotta drop trow” — also spelled “trou” — which refers to the act of preparing to defecate by dropping one’s pants around the ankles. (Note: In America, we call them “pants,” but those dandies in the UK call them “trousers.”) Anyway, after hearing me use this expression enough times, it finally crept into my wife’s vocabulary, resulting in her emerging from the bathroom one day and proudly announcing:

I dropped my trout!


“Nailed it.” — Image Credit: Bugeater (https://www.flickr.com/photos/bugeaters/) — Subject to CC 2.0 License. Cropped from original.


Why American Expats Like Me Should NEVER Become English Teachers in Germany

Bad Teacher

“Do you have a learning disability? Because you should just KNOW this shit.” — Image Credit: Patrick Bell (https://www.flickr.com/photos/druidicparadise/) – Subject to CC 2.0 License.

As I’ve said many times before, my wife is German and she is a Gymnasium teacher here in Hannover, Germany. As such, she teaches two primary academic subjects, but she is also required to conduct elective classes. These classes are usually fun things, like arts and crafts, sports or cooking. (But not beer drinking. I checked.)

Not long ago, my wife was tasked with teaching an elective baking class to a bunch of snot-nosed 8th graders. They were going to make a Black Forest Cake, also known as a Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte. Now, I don’t know why, but my wife wanted the recipe to be in English, so she downloaded one from the internet — which had clearly been translated from German into English — and asked me to proofread it for spelling and grammar mistakes.

What I found was an absolute clusterfuck of linguistic crimes, any one of which would — in an ideal world — warrant death by hanging. (Followed by the deceased author’s body being dragged through the streets and beaten with rubber mallets, then thrown into a pit of acid-spitting vipers which reduce the corpse to rendered lard, thereby enabling it to be molded into tiny, adorable birthday candles.)

Below is the Black Forest Cake recipe from the internet, complete with my edits indicated in red. ***WARNING*** Contains swearing and one rather graphic illustration. (Click image to enlarge.)

German and English Language Editing - Schwarzwalder Kirschtorte (Black Forest Cake) Funny Recipe Corrections


Look, if the situation were reversed and I had to write this cake recipe in German, I would fail so hard I would have to throw myself off a cliff. Still, I cannot excuse such heinous linguistic crimes. This is why I must award this recipe with a despicable 1 out of 5 Merkel Diamonds:

Merkel Diamond from Angela Merkel, Prime Minister of Germany

Would you be a good English teacher? Have you ever had a particularly good or bad language teacher? We’d love to hear all about your experience in the comments section below…

Graphic Designer in Portland, Oregon and Hannover, Germany - Grafikdesigner Illustrator Copywriter

The German Accent: Ain’t No Place for the English “T-H”


“You just put your lips together and… blow.” — Image Credit: tiffany terry (https://www.flickr.com/photos/35168673@N03/) — Subject to CC Generic 2.0 Copyright.

I love my wife’s accent. It’s cute — sort of ambiguously European — with a rare subtlety which likely stems from so much time spent in the United States and her years of being married to me; an American book nerd who experiences heart palpitations whenever someone misuses the homophones “there” and “their.”

But who doesn’t enjoy a good foreign accent? They sound cool and unique. More attractive, even. (Except for that God-awful Cockney English accent. Holy shit.) So I cherish what precious little remains of my wife’s German accent, and record it whenever she lets fly with a real zinger. Yes, her mispronunciations make me laugh out loud, but I do not mean to mock her; I truly enjoy the linguistic differences. (And this road goes both ways, I’ll have you know: My wife laughs her sweet ass off whenever I try to say “ice cubes” in German. The word is “Eiswürfel,” pronounced, “Ice-vuhr-fell,” but I can’t stop saying “Ice-TZWUHR-fell.” Makes her lose her shit every time.)

One remnant of my wife’s accent is still going strong, however, and that is her total disregard for the English <th> sound, as in “theater,” “weather” or “Thor, God of Thunder.” (And yes, I am a comic book dork, as well as a fantasy nerd and sci-fi geek. I loved the movie Prometheus. It rocked so hard I’ve been hassling my wife to watch it with me since 2012.) So it was with much glee that I wrote down my wife’s quote the other day, after she came home from a particularly arduous day at work and demanded immediate relaxation, saying:

“I want to watch a movie so hard. We could even watch a sci-fi. We could even watch your ‘Pro-mee-toys.’ “

If you would like to read another classic mispronunciation post, check this one out: My German Wife Gets Stuck in Traffic, Struggles Adorably to Pronounce the English Letter ‘J’