Category Archives: German language

Unwort des Jahres – alternativlos

We already had the German word of the year. Now it’s time for the un-word of the year. The Unwort des Jahres.

German has a great way of adding an “un” at the beginning of a word to create a new concept, by the way. For example Kraut means cabbage or herbs… but Unkraut means weeds.   If you receive a cheque you have to hope it is gut rather than ungut.

Anyway… I digress.  This year’s un-word is alternativlos – meaning without any alternative. The reason for the choice, according to the jury spokesman, was that it is a debate killer. It implies that there is no point in discussing the situation any further as there is only one possible solution or course of action. Such argumentation has, according to the jury, been far too common during 2010, leading to greater polemics in political views and less openness to debate and listening to other viewpoints.

The runner up this year was Integrationsverweigerer – an immigrant who refuses to integrate with the native population.  I don’t think many readers of this blog fall into that category at least!

By Christoph Speccius ([1]) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The German language is constantly in flux.

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Filed under About Germany, german education, German language, Life in Germany

Planet Germany as a university set text

I was alerted this week to a small ad on the Leipzig University notice board. It was from a Russian student and she was looking to buy a second hand copy of Planet Germany.

I emailed her and found out that she needed the book because it was a set text for her univerity English course. She was looking to buy it second hand (and for this she apologised to me profusely) because as a student without a grant or scholarship, she cannot afford all the course books she needs.

Of course I was delighted to learn that Planet Germany is being pored over now by students of English. I hope it turns out to be one of the course books which genuinely gives delight, rather than loathing and last-minute pre-exam panics (what was that quote about the cat and the enema again?)

Of course, I sent a copy to the Russian student – and I hope she manages to sail through her exam with a top grade now!


Filed under About Germany, books, children in germany, german education, German language, Life in Germany

Teatime and Cellos in Düsseldorf

Just a quick alert for anyone in Düsseldorf on October 3rd. I will be appearing at Teatime and Cellos on Planet Germany.

The event is organised by Rhinebuzz. It will be an afternoon of fabulous classical music interspersed with me reading funny passages from Planet Germany . It starts at 5 p.m. (that’s 17.00 if you’re German) and will be at  Kwadrat, Blücherstrasse 51, Düsseldorf.

I really hope to meet some of my regular readers there!


Filed under About Germany, books, comedy, german art, German language, Life in Germany

Civic vegetables

These days I rarely catch sight of an English menu in a German restaurant. We’ve been living here so long, that the waiter normally doesn’t spot us as foreigners – at least until we’re actually ready to order.

But this weekend, we had visitors from England, so when the waiter offered an English language menu we were happy to accept.

This was when the problems started.

“What’s a civic vegetable?” Asked Christine.

“A what?”  I wondered whether our local town hall had started growing cabbages in its municipal flowerbeds.

“It says Civic Vegetable. You can have it with a sausage or a pork chop apparently. But what it it? Some sort of urban carrot?”

As ever with strange translations, I had to work this one out by translating backwards. Eventually I came to the conclusion that they meant something like “gutbürgerlich” … so plain, hearty fare. Probably Grünkohl (curly kale).

And so it turned out. The civic vegetable was a kale and potato hotpot and the “fried pork chop” was actually Kassler… so actually gammon steak.

I think I’ll stick with the German menu next time…  restaurant English is far too tricky!


Filed under About Germany, food, German language, Life in Germany

Germany’s New Outside Minister


Filed under comedy, German language, German video

Planet Germany blog is featured on Deutsche Welle!

Deutsche Welle is running a series about expat blogs in Germany and this week they’ve featured none other than Planet Germany!

Do remember to click through to the podcast… where you can hear me whittering on abut blogs and blogging. I think I’ll need a lie down now after listening to this.


Filed under About Germany, books, German language, Life in Germany

What the Germans think of American fast food

Meet the McBurgerQueen Burger.


Filed under comedy, food, German language, german television, German video, Life in Germany