German Lessons


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). 

Die Sorte, der Typ, and die Art

When we are trying to make a specification, we rely on phrases like "sort of," "type of," and "variety of." You may think these words each correspond with the most similar word in the title above, but things are not that simple. This is German, after all!


Die Art can be most generically employed as a translation for "the type of" or "the sort of," and also "the way of." 


Spätzle sind eine Art bayrische Nudeln.

Spaetzle are a type of Bavarian noodle.

Caption 2, Bayrische Spätzle - mit Christiane

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Es gibt verschiedene Arten von Wind:

There are various types of wind:

den säuselnden Hauch,

the murmuring breath,

die leichte, die frische und die steife Brise...

the light, the fresh and the stiff breeze...

Captions 10-12, Piggeldy und Frederick - Der Wind

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Die Art also can refer to someone's personality, as in their way of being or way of behaving, and it also can refer to a species of animal. 


Es ist überhaupt nicht ihre Art, einfach so wegzulaufen.

It's not her nature to simply run away like that.

Caption 33, Großstadtrevier - Von Monstern und Mördern

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Einige Tierarten aber

Some animal species, however,

machten sich die gewaltige Umgestaltung der Küste zunutze.

have made use of the enormous transformation of the coast.

Caption 5, Abenteuer Nordsee - Unter Riesenhaien und Tintenfischen

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Die Sorte is quite similar to die Art, but will more likely be employed for things that are in some way man-made. For example, if you are talking about a variety or flavor of food, often one that is specified by a name, you generally will use die Sorte rather than die Art. 


Die Sorte „Jamaika Blue Mountain“,

The variety "Jamaica Blue Mountain,"

quasi der Champagner unter den Kaffees,

quasi the champagne of coffees,

kostet sogar über zwanzigmal so viel

even costs over twenty times as much

wie ein Kaffee aus dem Supermarktregal.

as a coffee from the supermarket shelf.

Captions 14-17, Kaffee - Noch von Hand gemacht

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Die Eissorten werden jedes Jahr exotischer.

The ice-cream flavors get more exotic every year.

Caption 2, Eis - Eiskalte Leidenschaft

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Der Typ is a bit trickier, as it is not universally used to mean "type" like in English. In fact, it is most often used as a slang expression to simply mean "the guy." But it can also mean "type of guy." Like in English, you can say Er/Sie ist nicht mein Typ, which means that the person doesn't interest you romantically. 


Ich bin ein sehr nachdenklicher Typ und Mensch.

I am a very thoughtful guy and human being.

Caption 16, Andreas Bourani - Startet durch

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Er war schon immer so ein Typ, dem alles so zufliegt.

He was always the kind of guy who always gets everything.

Captions 22-23, Joris - Er

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Further Learning
Keep an eye out for examples with these words used on Yabla German, and always look at the noun in the sentence. You will notice patterns which can help you choose the right option later on.


Some German Abbreviations & Acronyms

At Yabla, we like to write out words in their entirety (for instance, 2016 is zweitausendsechzehn) in our video captions so that you can learn them better. But you may also come across abbreviations and acronyms in German articles that you are reading, so it's not a bad idea to catch up on some of the more common ones. (An acronym is an abbreviation too, but it's used in speaking.) You won't find many actual abbreviations in Yabla videos since they aren't usually spoken, but there are plenty of examples where words or phrases would be abbreviated if they were in standard written form! 



Unterschrift, Stempel und so weiter und so weiter, ne?

Signature, stamp, and so on and so forth, right?

Caption 23, Großstadtrevier - Von Monstern und Mördern

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One of the most common abbreviations of all is usw., which is short for und sweiter, and pretty much interchangeable (even in German) with "etc."

Merkel hat noch TÜV [Technischer Überwachungsverein]

Merkel still has a TÜV [technical inspection organization certificate]

bis zweitausenddreizehn.

that's valid until two thousand thirteen.

Captions 32-33, Der Merkelpilot - der kleine Mann, der es macht

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If your car won't pass the TÜV (an acronym, with the "Ü" pronounced like the "oo" in "foot") inspection in Germany, you'd better get it fixed or get rid of it, because you can't drive it on the street without the certificate from the Technical Inspection Organization or Technischer Überwachungs-Verein. This non-profit organization (eingetragener Verein or e. V.), responsible for overseeing technical inspection procedures in Germany, even owns a registered trademark on the term. Hopefully Chancellor Merkel will get her TÜV approved this year! 

Wir sind sehr zuversichtlich beziehungsweise sehr froh auch.

We are very confident, or rather, very happy too.

Caption 26, Strothoff International School - Interview mit dem Rektor

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The word beziehungsweise is often shortened to bzw. in informal writing, and is one of the most commonly abbreviated German words. It's also a very effective word that has no single-word equivalent in English, meaning "and/or" all in a single word. It's a bit tricky to translate because "and/or" is just not an elegant solution, so it's often translated as "respectively" or "alternately."

The undisputed champion of German acronyms, however, must be "for example": 

Hier haben wir zum Beispiel Rohkaffee aus Kolumbien.

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

Caption 8, Kaffee - Noch von Hand gemacht

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"For example" or zum Beispiel takes the acronym z. B., and this being German, don't forget to capitalize the "B" even in its short form! 



Further Learning
Take a look at this list of common German abbreviations and go to German Yabla to find some of the words and phrases used in context.

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