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I studied German for 3 months in high school. Perhaps it is because of this more than the fact that the English language has borrowed heavily from German that I had always thought many of the words one comes across as a traveller to Germany can be worked out. It wasn’t until my recent trip with friends that I realised what came instinctively to me did not always occur naturally with others. It was because of this that I started keeping a list of words that I was asked about during the course of our travels. I hope the non German speakers amongst you may find it helpful too, the next time you are there!
W – always pronounced as a V
A – always pronounced with an “ah” sound
ß – not a double B but actually a double S
Guten tag – Good day
Guten morgen – Good morning
Guten abend – Good evening
Guten nacht – Good night
Auf wiedersehen – Goodbye (pronounced auf vee-der-zen)
Tschüss – Bye (informal, pronounced chus with an “oo” sound)
Danke – Thanks
Bitte – Please (pronounced like “bitter”)
Entschuldigung – Excuse me
Instructions and important words
Ziehen – pull
Drücken – push
Damen – ladies
Herren – gents
Numbers 1-10 – eins, zwei (pronounced zvai), drei, fier, fünf, sechs, sieben, acht, neun (pronounced noo-in), zehn
Wagen halt – bus stopping (when the stop button has been pressed in a bus, pronounced vah-gen)
Nächste station – next station/stop (in the metro, pronounced knees-ter stay-shon)
Places and place names
Straße – street (pronounced strah-zeh)
Gasse – lane
Weg – way
Steg – pedestrian bridge
Brücke – bridge
Turm – tower
Tor – gate
Schloss – chateau or palace
Burg – castle
Bad – bath
Stadt – city
Mitte – middle, centre
Alte – old
Neue – new (pronounced noy)
Platz – place, a square
Kirche – church
Dom – cathedral
Brot – bread
Kuchen – cake
Wasser – water
Suppen – soup
Salat – salad
Schokolade – chocolate
Trinkschokolade – hot chocolate, literally “drink chocolate”
Knoblauch – garlic
Früchte – fruit
Kirsch – cherry
Erdbeer – strawberry
Himbeer – raspberry
Ananas – pineapple
Apfel – apple
Wassermelone – watermelon
Heiße – hot
Maroni – chestnut
Rindfleisch – beef
Schwein – pork
Hühnerfleisch – chicken
Fisch – fish
Do you agree that German is slightly easier to pick up compared to some other languages because of similarities to the English language? What are other simple words and phrases would you include as being helpful for a traveller to know?
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