Six Ways to Say "Orange" in German

There are a lot of options for describing something as being the color orange in German, though not all of them may be quite correct in formal writing! The standard form, and easiest to remember since it is identical to English, is the German adjective orange


Ein Tiger ist ein Tier, das orange ist. 
A tiger is an animal that is orange.
Captions 17-18, Deutschkurs in Blaubeuren: Der Relativsatz


Used together with the noun, you could say ein oranger Tiger or ein oranges Tier. Okay, a tiger is actually orange and black, but eventually the student in this video gets it right! 


A second and third adjective that we could use is orangefarben, or less commonly orangenfarben, meaning "orange-colored." In that case our imaginary tiger—missing its black stripes—would be ein orangefarbener or orangenfarbener Tiger. Add to that some other similar fourth and fifth "orange" adjectives and you have ein orangefarbiger or orangenfarbiger Tiger. In the latter, orangefarbig is more common than orangenfarbig.


The sixth and last way to express the color orange is very common in spoken German, but according to the Duden dictionary, orangen is actually slang usage: 


Ich glaube, am besten gefällt mir nicht die orangene Farbe.
I think I don't like the orange color best.
Caption 19, „Mini-Marxe”: In Trier


Der orangene PKW wird auf vierzig Kilometer pro Stunde beschleunigt.
The orange passenger car is accelerated to forty kilometers per hour.
Caption 16, Crashtest: Fahrradfahrer profitieren kaum vom Fußgängerschutz am Auto


Further Learning
Orange, orangefarben, orangenfarben, orangefarbig, orangenfarbig, orangen: Find some more examples of "orange" and other colors on Yabla German to see how they are used in a real-world context.

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Get Out of My Peel!

This week's exciting finale of the Pfefferkörner episode has a German idiom that could come across a bit as being a bit odd when translated directly:


Ja, wahrscheinlich wollte er ihr freiwillig nicht mehr von der Pelle rücken.
Yes, probably he didn't want to go away from the peel of his own accord.
Caption 22, Die Pfefferkörner: Cybermobbing


So just what is the Pelle and why didn't he want to get away from it? The word die Pelle is traceable in German as far back as the 12th century, originally as the skin of a wurst or sausage. Later it took on the same meaning as "peel" in English for the peel of a potato or other vegetable. Later on, die Pelle came to take on the idiomatic usage suggesting human skin, much in the same way as the slang usage of der Pelz (fur) is used for human skin. So does this mean that he didn't want to "get away from her skin?"


Man muss anderen Menschen sehr auf die Pelle rücken, um die zu schminken.
You need to really push people on the peel to do their make-up.
Caption 31, Kosmetik: Make-up-Artist-Schule


The more common expression is jemandem auf die Pelle rücken, literally to "move on someone's peel (or skin)."  What it means is to get too close, to be too intimate, or to invade their personal space. A similar idiom in English might be "to get in their face." 


So what then does von der Pelle rücken mean? The best translation is probably "to leave somebody alone," as in the idiomatic expression "get out of my face." So we could translate the first example above as "Yes, probably he didn't want to leave her alone of his own accord."


Another similar idiom is jemandem auf der Pelle sitzen (or liegen), which means to bother someone with your continual presence, a similar meaning to the English idiom "to get on someone's nerves."


Further Learning
Learn more about this expression in this article, and get into the detailed German explanation on Duden. Look for an example of der Pelz on Yabla German in its slang usage to see how it's used in a real-world context.

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More German Pseudo-Anglicisms

There are a number of English words that have been adopted by the German language but given different meanings or used in different contexts. These are called pseudo-Anglicisms, and sometimes lead to German speakers re-importing what they mistakenly think are English words into their non-native English, often with unintentionally humorous or incomprehensible results. 


Wo man seinen Sound aufnehmen kann und den dann wieder abrufen kann, ohne Boxen.
Where you can record your sound and then can access it again without speakers.
Captions 32-34, Rhein-Main-TV aktuell: Musikmesse in Frankfurt


Die Box is short for die Lautsprecherbox, which means "speaker" or "loudspeaker." A native English speaker might be confused, however, if somebody told him his "boxes" are too loud.


Carmen Spindler leitet nicht nur ein Fitnessstudio.    
Carmen Spindler doesn't just run a gym.
Caption 2, Bodybuilderinnen: Lieber zart als muskulös


Another acceptable spelling of this word is das Fitness-Studio, which makes the English source more obvious. It's pretty clear what "fitness studio" means, but to English ears it sounds like an unnecessarily verbose word for "gym."


Ich hab' ihr schon dreimal auf die Mailbox gesprochen, aber nichts.    
I've already left three messages on her voicemail, but nothing.
Caption 37, Großstadtrevier: Von Monstern und Mördern


If somebody told you they were "talking to your mailbox," you'd think maybe it's time they seek professional psychological help. But in German, die Mailbox is just your voicemail or answering machine. 


Further Learning
Review an earlier Yabla newsletter about pseudo-anglicisms and look for more examples on Yabla German to see how these words are used in a real-world context.

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Adjective Declensions: Definite Articles

It's sometimes not a bad idea to make sure some of that "old knowledge" is still accurate, so let's get back to basics: adjective declensions with definite articles. To make it as easy as possible, remember the following three rules for adjective endings:


1. All adjectives in the singular nominative case end in -e, regardless of noun gender. Here is an example with the singular masculine nominative:


Der alte Minister ging in den Saal.
The old minister went into the hall.
Caption 37, Märchen, Sagenhaft: Des Kaisers neue Kleider


2. All adjectives in the dative or genitive cases, as well as all adjectives in plural form, end in -en regardless of the noun's gender. Here is an example with the plural genitive: 


Der Kaufmann verbrachte die Nacht in einem der schönen Schlafräume.
The Merchant spent the night in one of the beautiful bedrooms.
Captions 25-26, Märchen, Sagenhaft: Die Schöne und das Biest


3. This is the hard one: Adjectives for masculine nouns in the singular accusative case end in -en, but adjectives for feminine and neuter nouns in the singular accusative case end in -e. Here is an example with the single masculine accusative:


So gibt es hier die elektrische Gitarre für den abgebrühten Rockstar.
Thus there is the electric guitar here for the jaded rock star.
Caption 2, Rhein-Main-TV aktuell: Musikmesse in Frankfurt


If the noun above had been feminine (or neuter), it would have dropped the -n: ...für die abgebrühte Musikerin.


Further Learning
There is a system for remembering adjective endings that many people find easy to remember called the Oklahoma — see if it works for you. (A special hat tip to Yabla subscriber Mike S. for that!) You can also search for some of your favorite adjectives on Yabla German and review the ways the adjectives end in the different cases with different noun genders.

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Compounds of Spring

It may not be exactly warm out yet in old Berlin, but Frühling is definitely in the air. The sun has been out more than usual and we're starting to see some buds on the bushes and trees! Let's take a look at some compound nouns that can be formed from the German word for "spring."


Vielmehr sollten die Tiere jetzt darauf achten, dass ihnen die Frühlingsgefühle nicht durchgehen.
Instead, the animals now ought to take heed that these spring feelings don't get the best of them.
Captions 43-44, Rhein-Main-TV aktuell: Frühling im Zoo


Erst ab Mai bekommen sie hier oben Frühlingsgefühle.
Not until May do they get spring fever up here.
Caption 46, Alpenseen, Kühle Schönheiten


Das Frühlingsgefühl is a compound noun made by joining der Frühling with das Gefühl. In the first example, it is translated directly as "spring feeling," and in the second case more literarily as "spring fever."


Compounds can also be made from der Frühling relating to specific times of day: 


Es ist ein wunderschöner Frühlingsmorgen heute.
It is a wonderfully beautiful spring morning today.
Caption 2, Berlin: Eva im Viktoriapark


Leopardeneis und Vanilleeis, ein Traum für einen sonnigen Frühlingsnachmittag.
Leopard ice cream and vanilla ice cream, a dream for a sunny spring afternoon.
Caption 46, Eis: Eiskalte Leidenschaft


Or about time in a more general sense: 


Frühlingszeit ist Fahrradzeit.
Springtime is bike time.
Caption 1, Fahrrad: Frühjahrs-Check


Die Frankfurter haben nach dem sonnigen Wochenende auch heute die ersten Frühlingstage am Mainufer genossen.
The residents of Frankfurt have, after the sunny weekend, enjoyed the first days of spring on the shore of the Main today too.
Captions 4-5, Rhein-Main-TV aktuell: Der Frühling ist da


Further Learning
Watch the above videos on Yabla German to help get you into the mood for spring and improve your German too! Then check out this list of compound words that can be made from der Frühling. Don't forget to get outside and soak up a little bit of sunshine! 

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Von wegen: more than just "no way!"

A caption in this weeks' latest installment of the Pfefferkörner kid detectives series uses the slang phrase von wegen. Directly translated ("from because of"?), this phrase makes very little sense. Used on its own (Von wegen!), it is a negation to a statement made by somebody else, and means "that is wrong," "not at all," "just the opposite," or just simply "no way!" The Duden dictionary defines von wegen! as auf keinen Fall! Despite some rather crude translations of the phrase on some less than dependable crowd-sourced translation sites, the phrase itself is not vulgar at all, and will only cause offense if the contradiction of a statement is inherently offensive to the person who made it. It's all about context.


It's a bit trickier to translate von wegen when it is used in a sentence and references something specific. Here too, we have to look at the context in which the phrase is used.


Von wegen Kunstunterricht.
It's not true about art class.
Caption 44, Die Pfefferkörner: Cybermobbing


In the above scenario, a girl's parents just found out she was lying when she said that her brother was with friends in an art class. Her father confronts her about her lie using von wegen.


But von wegen can also be used in a dismissive sense: 


Von wegen körperloser Sport, hätte ich meinen Helm doch gebraucht. 
So much for non-contact sports, I still could've made use of my helmet after all.
Caption 46, Ultimate Frisbee: Oli erklärt das Spiel 


The speaker above is talking about the fact that frisbee is generally considered to be a non-contact sport, so he is dismissing this belief as being untrue. And here again as an expression casting doubt on a supposition:


Von wegen Öl geht aus. Die lügen doch, die Ölstaaten.    
As if the oil will run out. But they're lying, the oil states.
Caption 29, Culcha Candela: Schöne neue Welt


There is also, of course, a standard, non-slang use of the phrase von wegen in a sentence: von [genitive noun] wegen means "for [noun] reasons" or "for reasons of [noun]." Some examples: von Amts wegen (for official reasons), von Rechts wegen (for legal reasons), or von Berufs wegen (for professional reasons). 


Further Learning
Read this lively StackExchange article about von wegen and keep your eyes out for examples used in a real world scenario on Yabla German.

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Plural Nouns in German

There is no single standard form for making German nouns plural, but most nouns follow one of ten general patterns. You will instinctively recognize many of them, but others just have to be learned. One thing, at least, is easier: the definite article for German plurals is always die, regardless of the noun's gender.


(1) Add -e:


Ich fahre nach Stuttgart, weil ich meine Freunde treffen will.
I drive to Stuttgart because I want to meet my friends.
Caption 56, Deutschkurs in Tübingen: Warum, Weil - Erklärungen


Der Freund, plural die Freunde.


(2) Add -n or -en: 


Und all diese Fragen
And all these questions


Wir sind ja schon immer als Studenten nach Frankfurt gepilgert.
We have indeed always, as students, gone to Frankfurt.
Captions 14 & 37, Museum: für moderne Kunst


Die Frage, plural die Fragen; der Student, plural die Studenten.


(3) Add -e and umlaut:


Wer würde ihren Haferbrei essen und ihre Stühle zerbrechen?
Who would eat their oat porridge and break their chairs?
Caption 55, Märchen, Sagenhaft: Goldlöckchen und die drei Bären


Der Stuhl, plural die Stühle.


(4) Add -er, or umlaut and -er: 


Allein unter seiner Herrschaft waren es weit über hundert... Männer, Frauen, Kinder...    
Alone under his rule, it was far above a hundred... men, women, children...
Caption 22, Geschichte: Hexenverbrennung im Odenwald


Das Kind, plural die Kinder; der Mann, plural die Männer.


(5) Change the main vowel to its umlaut equivalent, but make no change to the noun's ending:


Die drei Brüder waren entsetzt.    
The three brothers were horrified.
Caption 32, Märchen, Sagenhaft: Die drei Brüder


Der Bruder, plural die Brüder. This rule applies especially to family members such as der Vater, plural die Väter; die Mutter, plural die Mütter; die Tochter, plural die Töchter.


(6) Add -s:


Das sind wirklich die schlimmsten Autos, die jemals hergestellt wurden.
These are really the worst cars that were ever made.
Caption 36, Der Trabi: Das Kultauto aus dem Osten 


Das Auto, plural die Autos.


(7) Nouns ending in -in, which denote that the person in question is a woman, are always pluralized with -nen: 


Emmi und Johanna sind Freundinnen.
Emmi and Johanna are friends.
Caption 3, Fußball und die Frauenwelt: Der Manndecker


Die Freundin, plural die Freundinnen


(8) Add -ien: 


Man muss die Materialien kennen. 
One must know the materials.
Caption 29, Trendberuf Restauratorin: Eine Lebensaufgabe


Das Material, plural die Materialien


(9) Nouns ending in -nis are pluralized by adding -se: 


Die Ergebnisse des Tages sollen natürlich auch Früchte tragen.
The results of the day should, of course, also bear fruit.
Caption 26, Rhein-Main-TV aktuell: Nachhaltigkeit


Das Ergebnis, plural die Erebnisse


(10) No change at all: plurals are only distinguished by context or in the case of non-feminine nouns, the use of the definite article die: 


Die Zimmer sind besondere Hingucker.    
The rooms are special eye-catchers [attractions].
Caption 5, Das Ostel: Über Nacht zurück in der DDR


Das Zimmer, plural die Zimmer


Last of all, there are the irregular plurals, which consist of nouns that each have their own unique rules for pluralization. These, of course, must be learned individually. A few examples are der Saal (plural die Säle), das Datum (plural die Daten) das Klima (plural die Klimate), der Bus (plural die Busse).


Further Learning
Read this article about German irregular plurals and look here for an in depth overview of German plurals. Find examples of plurals used in a real world scenario on Yabla German.

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Wake Up and Smell the Roses

In last week's lesson, we discussed how translating animal names directly may not be wise, and the same applies to flora as well. If you were to directly translate the German word for "dandelion" into English, for example, you would wind up with "lion's tooth" (der Löwenzahn). You may be relieved, however, to recall that, as poet Gertrud Stein once famously wrote: "A rose is a rose is a rose." Or as the case may be, eine Rose


With spring hopefully just around the corner, let's take a look at some flower names as they appear in some Yabla German videos. 


Eine Kornblume mit vielen Blütengeschwistern.
A cornflower with many sibling blossoms.
Caption 30, Piggeldy und Frederick: Unkraut


Das Stoppelfeld, die Sonnenblume, schläfrig am Zaun…
The stubbled field, the sunflower, sleepy against the fence…
Captions 8-9, Sabine und Ivana: Gedichte im Bus


Er hat sich die Tulpen überallher bringen lassen. 
He had tulips brought in from all over the world. 
Caption 52, Karlsruher Stadtgeburtstag: die Majolika-Manufaktur


The above are quite easy examples, in that they are either coincidentally correct as direct English translations or, in the case of "tulips," are very similar words. 


Further Learning
Take a look at this list of German flower names and see how many you can guess correctly without having to look them up. Meanwhile, keep your eyes open for the first flower of spring...

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Avoiding Animal Names Confusion

You may come across the names of some unusual animals on German Yabla, especially in some of the nature series like Abenteuer Nordsee. One problem with a lot of animal names is that the German name, if translated directly word for word, may actually be a completely different animal altogether. 

Ein Butterfisch lauert auf Beute.
A rock gunnel fish lies in wait for prey.
Caption 39, Abenteuer Nordsee: Unter Riesenhaien und Tintenfischen

If you look up der Butterfisch on German Wikipedia, you see that they are part of the Pholidae fish species. If you had translated the name to the English "butterfish," however, you would have wound up mistakenly referring to a completely different fish of the Stromateidae species. A German Butterfisch is in fact a "rock gunnel fish" in English, and an English "butterfish" is a Medusenfisch in German. Looking up an animal's name on German Wikipedia and then going to the equivalent English Wikipedia page (or vice versa, of course) is a good way to be sure you are getting the animals' names right! 

Ein Steinpicker sucht mit seinen Barteln nach Fressbarem.    
A hooknose fish is searching with its barbels for edibles.
Caption 27, Abenteuer Nordsee: Unter Riesenhaien und Tintenfischen

The German term der Steinpicker may translate directly to something like "stone picker," but in English no such species name exists, and as you see above, it's referring to the "hooknose fish."

Taschenkrebse, die berühmten Helgoländer „Knieper“, brechen Bohrmuscheln aus dem Kalkstein.
Brown crabs, the famous Heligoland pinchers, are breaking false angel wing clams out from the limestone.
Captions 29-30, Abenteuer Nordsee: Unter Riesenhaien und Tintenfischen

The example above has two animals which might easily be misidentified, der Taschenkrebs and die Bohrmuschel, which you might be tempted to translate as "pocket crab" and "drill mussel" respectively, but you'd be wrong if you did: neither of these animal names exist in English! In fact, der Taschenkrebs is a "brown crab" or "edible crab," and die Bohrmuschel is not a mussel at all, but a "false angel wing clam."

Further Learning
Watch or re-watch the Abenteuer Nordsee series on Yabla German and pay special attention to the names of animals. Read more about these animals on German Wikipedia and expand your German vocabulary at the same time!

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Twenty-Dollar German Words

The landmark writer's guide The Elements of Style states that you should "not be tempted by a twenty-dollar word when there is a ten-center handy, ready, and able." German, however, has quite a number of words that "are so long that they have a perspective," as Mark Twain once wrote. The longest word actually included in the Duden German dictionary is die Kraft­fahr­zeug-Haft­pflicht­ver­si­che­rung (auto liability insurance), with 35 letters. There are, however, many longer words that are acceptable to use although not listed in Duden, such as die Verkehrsinfrastrukturfinanzierungsgesellschaft  (traffic infrastructure financing society) and das Elektrizitätswirtschaftsorganisationsgesetz (electricity economy organization law). Such "20 euro" words are not only found in written German, but also in spoken German, as evidenced by these Yabla German videos!

Auf Weltmeisterschaftsebene sind wir so Mittelfeld, unteres Mittelfeld...
At World Cup level, we are about midfield, lower midfield...
Caption 70, Frisbee: Karlsruher Weihnachtsturnier

Außerdem kann man hierzulande manche Reisestrecke auch ohne Geschwindigkeitsbegrenzung erfahren.
In addition, you can, in this country, experience some travel routes also without a speed limit.
Captions 22-23, Reiseland Deutschland: Vielfalt im Herzen Europas

Wir haben die gesetzliche Verpflichtung, regelmäßig die Geschwindigkeitsbeschränkungen auf den hessischen Autobahnen zu überprüfen.
We have the legal obligation to check the speed limits on the Hessian autobahns regularly.
Captions 10-11, Deutsche Autobahnen: Geschwindigkeitsbegrenzungen

Ein Porsche dreihundertsechsundfünfzig B eintausendsechshundert GS Carrera GTL Coupé, Baujahr neunzehnhundertsechzig hat einen Versicherungswert von sechshundertfünfzigtausend Euro.
A Porsche three hundred fifty-six B one thousand six hundred GS Carrera GTL coupé, built in nineteen hundred sixty, has an insurance value of six hundred and fifty thousand euros.
Captions 57-59, Porsche 356: Der erste Porsche

So as you can see, in common conversation about sports and cars and numbers (or a combination thereof), it is possible to find some "mouthfuls" indeed. 

Further Learning
Read some of these fun articles about long German words at The Week and Time, and if you are feeling brave, read this Duden article about writing words together or separately. 

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