Denglisch Words: How to speak like a German!

Living in Germany, you’ll notice pretty early on that some of the stuff Germans say sounds pretty familiar. Denglisch words (“Denglisch” is a mixture of Deutsch and English) are all over the place. Why do Germans use Denglisch words? Sometimes they describe a new concept that German never had a word for. And to some German ears, Denglisch words sound cooler or trendier.

But I think most Denglisch words are used because the German words would be soooo much longer.

Denglisch words in a department store

Denglisch words in a department store. Photo by: Gmhofmann


Some favorite Denglisch words:

– using “shooting” to refer to filming. Once a filmmaker friend told me, “Yesterday was the shooting with the children.” He meant he’d taken video of child actors, while I gasped and asked if anyone was hurt!

– replacing German words with English ones. Karte already exists in German, yet train riders can buy a BahnCard. Karte can also mean ticket, but Germans also use Ticket more and more often. A two-in-one Denglicization.

– using the wrong English words, especially for tech. A Handy is a cell/mobile phone and a Beamer is an overhead projector.

– putting German grammar on English verbs. People might say they’ve upgedatet (updated) a system. A text message is called an SMS here, and now Germans are using “simsen” for “to text”/”to SMS.”


Of course, not all Germans are cool with Denglisch words. The founder of the German Language Society had a few things to say about it.

Denglisch Words - not so happy

This sign reads: Stop Denglisch! We speak German. Photo by: Rafael Peñaloza

Denglisch words and German sounds

Enough of the mixing and the Denglisch words. Here are a few authentic German sounds to make you sound like a real native. This part was inspired by this post on how French people speak!


Alter! Roughly translates to “dude,” “c’mon,” or “oh man.” Pronounced: “all-tah!”

As in: Alter, I don’t believe a word you’re saying.


Boah! This one means “Wow” or “Jeez!” Pronounced: “bwah.” The more surprised you are, the longer you should stretch out the “aaahhhh” at the end.

As in: You paid a hundred euros for a pair of flip-flops? Boahhh!


Doch. This little word stands in for concepts like actually, but, and the useful concept of disagreeing-with-a-negative. As in:

Steffi: You didn’t make it to the store today, right?
Peter: Doch, I did.


Juhu! This is German for “Woo-hoo!” Pronounced: yoo-hoo, with the accent on the hoo!

As in: Juhu, it’s lunch time!


Nö… Pronounced like “Neuuuhh.” You know when someone catches you red-handed and you just give them a little, “Who, me?” look? Use a long nöööö for that. Or, when you’re giving an answer of “Nah,” use a quick nö. As in:

Steffi: Did you eat all the chocolate?
Peter: Me? Nöööö…


Steffi: Would you like a receipt?
Peter: Nö, thanks, I don’t need one.


Oje. This one is the German answer to (or origin of?) the English oy vey, or ai-yi-yi. Pronounced: “oh-yay,” but means exactly the opposite! For extra-bad oy veys, try “Ojemine,” y’know, like an English speaker might say “Jiminy Cricket!” And that one’s pronounced: “oh-yay-me-nay.”

As in: Oje, there comes the boss.


Quatsch! This one means “nonsense!” or “BS!” You can also use it after your own sentence to say, “Just kidding!” Pronounced: kwatch! Like watch with a K in front of it. As in:

Peter: I got front-row seats for the Lady Gaga concert next week for €20.
Steffi: Quatsch, you did not!


schweine- as an adverb, more than “very.” Always used for negative things – you can’t say something is schweine-interessant. Germans use pigs to make the bad stuff worse, go figure!

As in:
Das ist schweine-teuer! (That’s incredibly expensive!)
Es ist schweine-kalt. (It’s reeeeally cold.)


Zak! means something like “bam,” or “all of a sudden,” or also “chop chop!” Pronounced: tzak! (with a long A, like ahh.)

As in:
I was walking down the street when, zak, it started raining.
Zak zak, guys, let’s get a move on, it’s lunchtime!


Now, let’s put them all together. Here we go!

Peter: Juhu, I got tickets for the Lady Gaga concert next week!
Steffi: Alter, you did not! Those tickets sold out zak-zak-zak, 3 minutes after they went on sale.
Peter: Doch, I did.
Steffi: But I bet they were schweine-expensive.
Peter: , they were €20 each.
Steffi: Quatsch. How much did you really pay?
Peter:  €200. Each.
Steffi: Boah, that’s more than I can afford. Ohje, it hurts just thinking about it.


What other Denglisch words can you add to the list? What other funny sounds do Germans make? Let us know in the comments below!

Foosball Tips: Win your next kicker tournament!

Here in Germany, foosball, a.k.a. kicker, is a popular pastime along with drinking or unique cars. Some bars hold tournaments or have pay-for-play tables. This post on foosball tips was even inspired by a well-placed table at a holiday party! Whether you’re a total beginner or want to get even better, these foosball tips will help you get on top of your game in no time.

Foosball Tips: Table Setup

A typical foosball table. Photo by: Jean-no

Beginner’s foosball tips

First and foremost. No spinning. This shouldn’t even count as foosball tips, but it has to be said. Whipping the foosball rod around at 100 RPM is bad form. On top of that, if you miss the shot your men are out of control and can’t get back to a blocking position quickly. Also, spinning can damage the table, and that would be very, very bad juju.

Next: if you can’t spin, work on a wrist flick. It’s important to shoot the ball hard, after all. And to counter the out-of-control aim a spin gets you, practice passing the ball between your own foosmen. That way, you’ll be able to get the ball where you need it for a killer wrist flick.

Third of the foosball tips is: take your time. You have 15 seconds before you’re required to move. Use that time to aim or to set up a killer shot. More on killer shots below…

Foosball tips for the experienced

Try your hand at a snake shot, which keeps it legal by rotating just less than 360 degrees. No spinning.

Be the best at one shot, not fifth-best at five shots. Better to have one shot that’ll work 90% of the time than to try for three shots that each have a 30% success rate.

And most importantly, go out and play against people who are better than you. That’s the only way you’ll be able to keep improving. Find a bar with a Kickertisch and have fun.

Foosball Tips table for 11

Table for 11, please! Massive setup in Berlin. Photo by: ProhibitOnions

More foosball tips

If you can’t get enough foosball tips, there are a few specialist websites out there. Try Quora‘s page on the topic, or the extensive FAQs and tips on FoosManchu.

A Go Trabi Go Roadtrip

Go Trabi Go: A working Trabi from a spy museum

Photo by: Elizabeth Suckow

There have been some pretty strange German things that I have noticed since moving here. Curry ketchup is one of them; it’s the only kind of ketchup I’ve ever requested on fries in my life. Hefe beers are another; who knows how I survived so long in California, the land of IPAs (bleh). There’s also one non-food item that I have to think of when I think of Germany, and especially Berlin: the Trabi. A semi-affectionate name given to the Trabant, even the word ‘Trabi’ has the ability to take some people right back to Germany before the wall fell. This frankly matchbox sized car is the subject of much nostalgia and quite a bit of joking, especially with former owners of the spunky soviet car. This reflection on Trabi’s for me inspired something, though. Having never owned one, I decided to do a bit of research.  Luckily Google brought me the classic 1991 film Go Trabi Go. Go Trabi Go was one of the first films made in Germany after reunification, and follows a family (the Struutz’) on a Goethe (yes the philosopher) inspired roadtrip in their Trabi (that is at least 20 years old) from their home in Bitterfeld to Naples. Yes that Naples. The one in Italy. It is a genuinely enjoyable movie to watch, and I wholeheartedly recommend checking it out. But seeing how this is technically a Germany travel blog, and not necessarily a Germany culture tchotchke survey (like it has been for the past couple weeks) I figure I’d try my hand at crafting a roadtrip guide based off of Go Trabi Go. So here it goes. Here’s my version of a Go Trabi Go Trip!

Go Trabi Go Trip: Get to Know A Trabi! 

A little background: the Trabant was the only car produced in East Germany, and this made it the fastest and most readily available car to most East Germans when it was first released in 1958. Further more, the production methods and designs for this crazy little car hardly changed at all over the car’s nearly 30 year lifespan. But, as you might notice, 1958 was a while ago; to put it nicely the Trabant did not age well. This made Trabi’s and their two cylinder engines look like toy cars next to the gas guzzling sedans of the 70s.  By the 80s, Trabis were something of a joke, as they were mostly famous for falling apart really well, going slower than anyone in a car ever needed to go, and belching an oily smoke at any sign of effort by the engine. They also became a sign of the inefficacy of the East German government; production shortages often meant month or even year long waiting lists for parts and new cars. And yet, Trabi’s still have their little tires hooked into the hearts of some Germans. However, to their benefit, as seen in Go Trabi Go, the car is insanely easy to put together again, and seems to have the suspension of a monster truck. Also the Franken-Trabi they end up with in the end looks pretty sweet.

And now to begin the roadtrip! Firstly, I want to say I do not recommend finding a Trabi to take you on this journey. No offense to any Trabi die-hards out there, but they really are unreliable vehicles, especially today. Secondly, I’m not even going to provide direct map directions here. As I don’t even know how to drive in my native California I think it would be irresponsible to dole out driving instructions in a foreign country. For the sake of this article, and everyone on the roads, I’m just going to provide links to bus lines that run between these three cities. Also thirdly, if you’ve seen the film you will realize that the story follows the Struutz family from Bitterfeld to Naples, but I’m only going to guide you through the German portion of their trip from Leipzig to Munich.

Go Trabi Go: Okay this one is definitely a toy

Photo by: János Rusiczki

Go Trabi Go Trip: Leipzig →Nuremberg

What the Struutz’ did in Leipzig:

  • Stayed: Well, they kinda live here, in the nearby town called Bitterfeld
  • For fun: Well… They left to start their great Go Trabi Go journey…

What you should do:

  • Stay: For the budget crowd, the Say Cheese is a fun, cheeky hostle in the city center that is clean, cozy and modern. And for those of you who can enjoy the better things in life, one of Leipzig’s nicest five-star hotels is the Steigenberger Grandhotel Handelshof.
  • For Fun: Take a stroll through the city center and enjoy the marvelous 16th century architecture that survived in this majestic city through the Second World War. It’s also worth mentioning that Bach, Wagner and Goethe himself all lived, studied and worked in this city at some time in their lives, so many museums, monuments and exhibitions can be found dedicated to these great minds. If you’re a fan of literature, you can visit the setting of a scene from Goethe’s Faust, and if you’re crazy for classical music, the church where Johann Sebastian Bach worked as Cantor still stands in the city center.

After a few days soaking in the greatest of German culture, head south to Nuremberg.

What the Struutz’ did in Nuremberg:

  • Stayed: With their annoying (not to mention racist) relatives in a creepy trailer in the relative’s backyard
  • For Fun: Tried not to punch said annoying (racist) relatives or piss off the gigantic dog who lived in said creepy trailer

What you should do:

  • Stay: Hostel goers should check out Arthotel for a great value and location, while Le Méridien Grand Hotel provides an amazing five star experience. And feel good in the fact that no matter where you stay, you’ll probably be doing better than the Struutz clan.
  • For Fun: Nuremberg is a city with a lot of history, like a lot of German cities. While you’re here you can enjoy the castle towers scattered around the city, and see the location of the Nuremberg trials of World War II. There are also some great museums to check out in this small city, including one dedicated to toys.

Once you’ve enjoyed a bit of a history lesson and a view, head even further south to Munich.

Go Trabi Go Trip: Nuremberg → Munich

So the Struutz family was lucky enough to have their Trabi towed for this part of the trip, by a jovial truck driver who really never stopped laughing. Highlights of this amazing scene include this fantastic Trabi joke:

-How do you double the value of a Trabi?

-Fill it with petrol

Too bad we didn’t get to hear the other 117 Trabi jokes that driver had up his sleeve!

What the Struutz’ did in Munich:

  • Stayed: In their Trabi (yes, three grown adults slept in a miniture sized four-seater overnight) unknowingly on a nude beach (which I might mention has the fittest bathers in the world. Seriously, I thought nude beaches were all over-fifty-and-you-should-have-pants-on kind of places. Well done for proving me wrong, Munich!)
  • For Fun: Go shopping! The ladies head to the mall to shop for bathing suits to begin their Italian portion of the trip, while the father heads to the scrap yard to find a new bumper for their poor Trabi they call ‘Georgie.’

What you should do:

  • Stay: While I couldn’t find any rooms near nude beaches, the Wombats City Hostel in Munich provides a comfortable, hip atmosphere that the Wombat hostels are known for.  If you’re into living it up, head to the München Palace for a charming stay you’ll not soon forget.
  • For Fun: Munich is definitely a great city for shopping, so if you’re inclined to follow the Struutz’ lead, Neuhauserstraße and Kaufinger Straße are famous for their offerings. But Munich has more to offer you than a lighter wallet. It is easily known as one of the most beautiful cities in Germany. Take a lovely stroll through the English Gardens, or if you’re lucky enough to visit in late September remember that little thing called Oktoberfest? Well it was invented here (more info about this traditional festival can be found here at our previous post on Munich’s Oktoberfest)!

And who knows, maybe by the time you get to Munich you’ll also have the road-tripping bug under your skin and head even farther south to Italy just like the Struutz family did in Go Trabi Go.

But hey, that’s a whole other blog, isn’t it?

What’s the deal with Black Forest cuckoo clocks, anyway?

Photo by: James O’Rear

I don’t know about everyone else, but when I think of cuckoo clocks, or more specifically Black Forest cuckoo clocks, I think of retirement communities and cartoons.  The retirement community probably comes into play because my grandfather was a woodworker, and I’ve always associated fine wooden objects with my grandparents, and the communities they lived in when I was a child.  The cartoons, on the other hand, are maybe easier to explain; simply put, I think I watched one too many old cartoons as a kid.  So all in all, Black Forest cuckoo clocks (or any other kind for that matter) don’t really piqué my interest, so to say.  But, being that we at germany-travel are an open minded, open hearted bunch, and that I’ve been living in Germany for exactly a year now, I figure it’s fair that this American gets familiar with least one (maybe slightly obscure) German original. As a totem for German history and innovation, there are actually few other objects that say so much about this great (and sometimes weird) country than the Black Forest cuckoo clock.  So, as I throw off the shackles of preconception, join me on a Black Forest cuckoo clock fact finding mission that turns out to be surprisingly fascinating, and undeniably impressive.

The Origins (or maybe not) of Black Forest Cuckoo Clocks

One of the silliest and most intriguing things about the Black Forest cuckoo clock story is the origin, or more specifically, the debate on the origin. So it goes that there are two main origin stories for the Black Forest cuckoo clock.  They both take place in the early 17th century, but while one story claims that it was a German invention, the other say that it was a copied design from a Bohemian craftsman traveling through southern Germany.  The first story, penned in 1810 by a priest, states that a gifted German watchmaker was inspired by a church organ to invent a clock with a small cuckoo bird to announce the hour. This story sounds all well and good, until we learn that Franz Anton Ketterer, the aforementioned gifted clock-maker, wasn’t even born when the cuckoo  clock was first invented (in the early 18th century), so that rather deflates that claim.

And on the other hand, the idea of a German craftsman buying and copying a Bohemian cuckoo clock is somewhat unbelievable as well, as there is no evidence of Bohemia (what is now the Czech Republic and South-East Germany) ever having a significant trade or tradition of watch or clock making.  However, no matter the origin, the Black Forest, or Schwarzwald, region of southwestern Germany is without a doubt responsible for the development and popularization of the cuckoo clock.

How Do Black Forest Cuckoo Clocks Work?

On first glance, your basic cuckoo clock may not seem so impressive, but there is an astounding level of engineering that goes into that tiny bird counting out the hours.  Imagine, if the first Black Forest cuckoo clocks were inspired by massive organs in churches, the first clock-makers to craft cuckoo clocks had to harness, and scale down the bellows and pipes that usually fill an entire wall, into a small box that can easily fit in the home, and that’s not to mention it having to share space with the clock gears themselves. And these clocks were invented long before computer aided drafting, calculators and even penicillin.  If that’s not impressive, then I don’t know what is! If you’re still curious as to the actual mechanisms that go into classic Black Forest cuckoo clocks here’s a fun video that shows the inner workings of this type of historic timepiece.

Where to Buy Your Black Forest Cuckoo Clock

Photo by: North Coast Imports

As far as finding the perfect Black Forest cuckoo clock for you during your trip to Germany, it’s obvious in the name that you have to go to the source: the Black Forest.  Because the Black Forest area has such a long tradition of fine woodworking, and clock-making, it should be easy to find a well crafted time piece along your trip.  However, you should be prepared for a few things. First, these timepieces can be astounding, but also pricey.  Prices can range anywhere from under a hundred euros, to thousands.  Also, because these pieces are hand crafted, you should be prepared to take extra precautions when transporting it to your final destination.  More tips on buying and caring for a Black Forest cuckoo clock can be found here.

However, if you are prepared to hunt a little bit, and pack lightly, you should be able to find just the right Black Forest cuckoo clock for you.  Because of their popularity, too, there are thousands of different styles to choose from; everything from the traditional cuckoo bird cuckoo clock, to clocks that tell fairy tales (like the picture above, don’t forget to read the tale at the link!) and little stories every time the hour turns.

So it’s still true, cuckoo clock’s aren’t exactly en vogue right now, but that’s no matter.  They’re impressive and important in their own right. And I mean, if I can learn to appreciate them after a couple of Google searches, anyone can!

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