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The Literary and Performing Arts in German

A few lessons ago, we started learning about different kinds of Visual Art in German: architecture, ceramics, conceptual art, drawing, painting, and sculpture. Let's continue today with the Literary Arts (die Literatur) and the Performing Arts (die darstellende Kunst).

 

Literature (die Literatur) as a creative field does not usually include news journalism or technical writing, but usually includes poetry (die Dichtung or die Poesie), drama (die Dramatik or das Drama), and fictional and non-fictional prose (die Prosa). A person who creates literature is usually called an author (der Autor / die Autorin), a dramatist or playwright (der Dramatiker / die Dramatikerin), a poet (der Dichter, die Dichterin), or simply a writer (der Schriftsteller, die Schriftstellerin).

 

Man hat einen tollen Schauspieler gesehen, aber auch einen großen Freund der Literatur.

You have seen a great actor, but also a great friend of literature.

Captions 50-51, Rheinmain im Blick: Klaus Maria Brandauer liest Goethe

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Und ich habe gedacht, dem Autor fällt etwas Besseres ein.

And I thought the author would come up with something better.

Caption 9, Nicos Weg: Essen gehen

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The next category is the Performing Arts, which includes dance, drama, or music—all of which are performed in front of an audience.

 

Dance (der Tanz) as an art form, simply defined as "the art of dancing," is usually referring to contemporary dance (der zeitgenössische Tanz) and ballet (das Ballett), but may include figure skating (der Eiskunstlauf), synchronized swimming (das Synchronschwimmen or das Kunstschwimmen), and some forms of gymnastics (das Turnen or die Gymnastik). A person who designs a dance performance is called a choreographer (der Choreograf / die Choreografin).

 

Mit ihrem anderen Hobby, Ballett, hat sie deshalb aufgehört.

That's why she quit her other hobby, ballet.

Caption 25, Spiegel-TV-Magazin: Skaterin Lilly Stoephasius: Mit dem Skateboard nach Tokio

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Die Tänzer in den Videos brauchten bestimmt nicht so viel Zeit.

The dancers in the videos definitely didn't need that much time.

Caption 41, Konjugation: Das Verb „brauchen“

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A person who performs music (die Musik) is a musician (der Musikerdie Musikerin), or named after the instrument they play. A person who writes music is called a composer (der Komponist / die Komponistin) or songwriter (der Songwriter / die Songwriterin)—alternatively der Liedermacher or die Liedermacherin.

 

„Beethoven, dessen Musik weltbekannt ist, war am Ende seines Lebens taub.“

"Beethoven, whose music is world famous, was deaf at the end of his life."

Caption 38, Deutschkurs in Blaubeuren: Der Relativsatz

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Ein bekannter Komponist aus dieser Stadt hat dort gelebt.

A famous composer from this city lived there.

Caption 20, Nicos Weg: Ein Bürger dieser Stadt

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The last form of the performing arts is theater (das Theater). Clearly this extends beyond works performed in theaters to all forms of acting (das Schauspiel), which may also include any of the other Performing Arts of dance and music. Although theater and film production encompass hundreds of types of jobs, the main performing artist is called an actor (der Schauspieler / die Schauspielerin).

 

Ich werde am St. Pauli Theater arbeiten als Assistent für Kostümdesign.

I'll work at the St. Pauli Theater as an assistant for costume design.

Caption 4, Drei Leute: beim Kofferpacken

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Daniel Brühl gilt mittlerweile als einer der erfolgreichsten deutschen Schauspieler.

Daniel Brühl is now regarded as one of the most successful German actors.

Caption 9, Jahresrückblick 2013: Deutsche Promis

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Further Learning
Go to Yabla German and watch the videos above relating to art forms and professions. Find a tandem partner in your class and make up some sentences in German using these art words, then compare what you both came up with.

Sehen, schauen, and kucken

We have "to see," "to watch," and "to look" in English, but there are even more verbs in German, and the meanings are often prefix-dependent. In German, the three verbs/verb roots are sehen, schauen, and gucken / kucken. Gucken or (more commonplace) kucken is slang and is more popular in northern Germany, whereas schauen is slang in southern Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. To gain an understanding of how these verbs are used, it's best to look at various examples and see how added prefixes affect the meaning.

Below, you can see examples of these three verbs without any prefixes.

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Die anderen Tiere sind im Winter leider nicht draußen zu sehen.

The other animals are unfortunately not to be seen outside in the winter.

Caption 20, Berlin - Domäne Dahlem

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Wo sehen Sie sich selbst in zehn Jahren?

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

Caption 55, Berufsleben - das Vorstellungsgespräch

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Hast du schon im Schrank geschaut? -Ja.

Have you already looked in the closet? -Yes.

Caption 4, Nicos Weg - Vorm Fahrradladen

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Ich bin runter und habe geguckt, war aber nichts.

I went down and looked, but there was nothing.

Caption 28, Rheinmain im Blick - Erdbeben in Südhessen

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Based on these examples, you might come to the conclusion that sehen is always translated as "to see" and schauen and kucken are translated as "to look." However, this is simply not the case. It is instead the prefixes that reliably determine the translations. As you see below, sich etwas anschauen and sich etwas ansehen both mean "to (take/have a) look at something," as does sich etwas ankucken.

 

Und einen Brauch wollen wir uns heute ansehen.

And we want to take a look at one of these customs today.

Caption 6, Eva erklärt - den Adventskalender

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Zuerst schauen wir uns einige Farben an.

First, we will look at some colors.

Caption 6, Eva erklärt - Farben

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Der Arzt schaut sich den Fuß jetzt erst mal an.

First, the doctor will take a look at your foot.

Caption 5, Nicos Weg - Beim Arzt

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Kuckt euch diese alte Kamera an.

Look at this old camera.

Caption 21, Drei Leute - beim Kofferpacken

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The phrases mal sehen, mal schauen, and mal kucken are essentially synonyms and can mean either "let's have a look at" or "let's see," depending on the context. 

 

Mal schauen, wie weit die Cannelloni sind.

Let's see how far along the cannelloni are.

Caption 41, Cannelloni - mit Jenny

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Mal kucken, was die anderen Jugendlichen hier im Jugendforum so treiben.

Let's see what the other young people here in the Youth Forum are up to.

Caption 10, Rheinman in Blick - Nachhaltigkeit

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Aussehen and ausschauen both refer to a person's appearance. Note: It is not possible to say auskucken in this context!

 

Du siehst gut aus.

You look good.

Caption 3, Weihnachtsmann gesucht - Bist du verliebt?

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Also, er hat mich gefragt: „Wie möchtest denn...

Well, he asked me: "How would you then like...

Herr Otto, wie möchtest denn ausschauen?“

Mr. Otto, how would you like to look then?"

Caption 9, Otto Waalkes - Friseur

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The verb "to watch" is most often translated as zusehen or zuschauen

 

Auf den Besuchertribünen kann jeder den Abgeordneten bei der Arbeit zusehen.

On the visitors' stands, everyone can watch the representatives at work.

Caption 23, Berlin - Hauptstadt des vereinten Deutschland

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Vielen Dank fürs Zuschauen.

Thank you for watching.

Caption 27, Eva - zeigt uns Kleidungsstücke

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When it comes to watching television or a film, there are various expressions involving all three verbs.

 

Am Freitag sehe ich fern.

On Friday, I will watch television.

Caption 17, Nicos Weg - Am Sonntag koche ich

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Wir haben viel zusammen gekocht und Filme gekuckt.

We often cooked together and watched films.

Caption 32, Fine - sucht eine Wohnung

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Wenn du den Fernseher anmachst, was schaust du?

When you turn on the television, what do you watch?

Caption 36, Peyman Amin - Der Modelmacher

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Further Learning
There are many, many examples of these verbs (sehensich etwas ansehen, zusehen, aussehen, and the slang versions) used in context on Yabla German. When you notice an incongruity between the two languages or an exception, make sure to take note of it.

Things, Stuff, Matters, and Topics

Whether we are referring to our stuff on a nearby chair or a serious matter that needs to be discussed, there are several words in German that can be helpful. Most of them can be used in a number of contexts, but there are a few things to be aware of.

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Sachen is a very versatile word, and can be used to refer to physical items but also matters and topics. Of course, das Thema is a more common word for "the topic."

 

Und ja, ich räume meine Sachen nicht immer sofort weg.

And yes, I don't always clean up my stuff away right away.

Caption 29, Die Wohngemeinschaft - Probleme

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Hier gibt es viele verschiedene Sachen für die Familie und für die Kinder zu sehen.

Here there are many different things for the family and for the children to see.

Caption 8, Berlin - Domäne Dahlem

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Fazit: In Sachen Hamburger hat die Hauptstadt auf jeden Fall mehr zu bieten.

Conclusion: When it comes to hamburgers, the capital city definitely has more to offer.

Caption 25, Berlin - Die beste Auswahl an Hamburgern

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Der Gegenstand is used to refer to a physical object or item, but also a topic of conversation or debate. And, of course, there is also the word das Objekt. In shopping, der Artikel ("the item") and die Ware are more likely to be used.

 

Auch hier handelt es sich um einen runden Gegenstand.

Also here it is about a round object.

Caption 34, Eva zeigt uns - Formen

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Slang terms for "stuff" or "odds and ends" are der Kram and das Zeug.

 

So viele Spinnweben und so viel Kram

So many cobwebs and so much stuff

Caption 11, Silbermond - Leichtes Gepäck

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Diese Box wird für Bücher, dieser Karton wird für das Zeug aus der Küche sein.

This box will be for books, this carton will be for stuff from the kitchen.

Caption 14, Drei Leute - beim Kofferpacken

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The word das Ding is, of course, also commonly used, and not just for objects.

 

Wir testen die Dinger jetzt schon seit Monaten.

We've been testing the things for months already.

Caption 30, Die Stunde der Offiziere - Dokudrama über den 20. Juli 1944

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Ich habe entschieden, die Dinge selbst in die Hände [sic, Hand] zu nehmen.

I have decided to take matters into my own hands.

Caption 6, Berufsleben - Probleme mit Mitarbeitern

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The plural forms die Dinger and die Dinge are both used. Generally, die Dinger refers to multiple things of the same kind, whereas die Dinge refers to multiple things of different kinds. 

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Further Learning
Das Thema, die Sache, das Objekt, der Artikel, die Ware, der Gegenstand, der Kram, das Zeug, and das Ding: Yabla German has many examples of all of these words, as they are commonly used. Go through them and make sure you know which are only used for non-physical ideas, topics, and matters, which are exclusively for physical objects, and which are applicable in both contexts. Making a venn diagram may be a good strategy!

German Xenonyms

A "xenonym" is an external name for a geographical place, the people who live there or the language spoken there. For example, English speakers say "Germany" rather than Deutschland and "Munich" rather than München. The names of many countries in German are very similar to the English xenonyms. However, even if they sound almost the same, the spelling is often different. For example, we see in many names that a C converts to K (Canada is Kanada, Cameroon is Kamerun),  a Z to an S (Zimbabwe is Simbabwe, Zambia is Sambia) or a V to a W (Slovakia is die Slowakei). Of course, this may not be the only difference.

 

Jetzt ist deine Münze in der Slowakei.

Your coin is now in Slovakia.

Caption 23, Sparefroh-TV - Warum sehen die Euromünzen in jedem Land anders aus?

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Der Kea-Papagei stammt ursprünglich aus Neuseeland.

The Kea parrot comes originally from New Zealand.

Caption 19, Wettlauf gegen den Verfall - Beruf Präparator

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Another common pattern is an -ien ending. You can likely guess which countries SpanienItalienSerbienRümänienSlowenienAustralienSaudi-ArabienTunesien, and Kroatien are!
 

Hier haben wir zum Beispiel, äh, Rohkaffee aus Kolumbien.

Here we have, for example, uh, raw coffee from Colombia.

Caption 8, Kaffee - Noch von Hand gemacht

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Dabei haben die deutschen Titelverteidiger diese Woche eins zu zwei gegen Tschechien verloren.

And the German title holders lost one to two against the Czech Republic this week.

Captions 6-7, Fußball - U21-Nationalmannschaft

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There is also a small group of countries with names ending in -land in German, which don't necessarily match up with those that have this ending in English. 

 

Hm, in Griechenland ist es im Sommer sehr heiß.

Hm, in Greece it is very hot in the summer.

Caption 37, Jenny - Reiseziele

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Diese da ist aus Russland und diese hier ist eine alte Polaroid-Kamera.

This one here is from Russia and this one is an old Polaroid camera.

Caption 23, Drei Leute - beim Kofferpacken

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Further Learning
Check out this very thorough list of country names and get memorizing! Concentrate on the country names that sound less like the English versions or are easily confusable. On Yabla German you can see which require a definite article (such as die Slowakei above), as detailed in our previous newsletter, or which require one in English but not in German (such as Tschechien). 

Hin und her

You asked a question and we are happy to respond! We will devote this lesson to the adverbs/prefixes hin and her. 

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We frequently see the expression hin und her, which can be translated as "back and forth," "to and fro," or occasionally "there and back." But there often isn't a precise translation when they appear individually.

 

As you can see below, the prefixes hin and her create a more specific sense of direction in the meaning of a sentence. Generally, hin refers to movement away from the speaker, and her refers to movement towards the speaker

 

Also, wo ziehst du jetzt hin? -Nach Hamburg.

So, where are you moving to now? -To Hamburg.

Caption 2, Drei Leute - beim Kofferpacken

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Wo kommt eigentlich euer Interesse her an den Sepien?

Where does your interest in cuttlefish actually come from?

Caption 18, Abenteuer Nordsee - Unter Riesenhaien und Tintenfischen

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But that isn't all! Hin and her are also used to talk about time, with hin referring to the future and her to the past. 

 

Rainer Roth, Saisonpremiere ist auch noch bisschen hin.

Rainer Roth, it's also still a while until the season premiere.

Caption 7, Fußball - Saisonpremiere - Part 1

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Drei Jahre ist es schon her, dass er sich das letzte Mal ins Studio gesetzt hat,

It's already been three years since the last time that he sat himself down in the studio,

Caption 3, Max Herre - Will kein Frauentyp sein

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Further Learning

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There are, of course, many instances of hin and her used on Yabla German. For some more vocabulary, you can refer to this page for words prefixed with hin, and this for words prefixed with her. For even more information, take a look at this lesson

 

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