There are several meanings for the word “ramble”:

  • to walk for pleasure, go for a walk or hike e.g. “Yesterday we went rambling with the Ramblers* in the Yorkshire Dales.”
  • to waffle or babble (schwafeln) e.g. “He often rambles on about his model railway”

I suppose I could be accused of rambling when I write my blog:)

* The Ramblers – Britain’s walking charity which aims to protect and expand the places people love to walk and promote walking for health and pleasure. It has around 120,00 members.


False Friend

What is a False Friend?

Before coming to Germany I had never heard of the expression “false friend” before. I soon learnt through my mistakes! There are some words in English which sound or look similar in German, but have a different meaning.  This can cause confusion, if not, on occasions embarrassment.

You can find a list of the most common ones in every English school book or check out the link: www.englisch-hilfen.de.

I once embarrassed myself at a party when a German friend told a joke about  a “Präservativ”.  I thought he was talking about “jam” (Konservierungsmittel) only to be told he was actually talking about condoms!! No wonder I didn’t get the joke!

Here are some False Friends to be aware of:

backside: das Hinterteil         die Rückseite: back

bodybagder Leichensack     die Bodybag : mono-strap backpack

chefder Küchenchef                der Chef: boss

gift das Geschenk                     das Gift: poison

If a German were sitting  in a restaurant and heard you say: “Did the boss give you a gift for your birthday?”,  he or she may be a little worried!

A Kloppism

Jürgen Klopp, the German football manager of Premier League club Liverpool , has given a lot of press interviews in English.  His English is actually very good but at times he has caused a little confusion and hilarity amongst journalists.  His use of German idioms or expressions, which he directly translates into English, do not always make sense to an Englishman.

I call this “Klopp-English”  or  kloppism. Maybe the most famous of these was: this is not a “wish concert.” (Das Leben ist kein Wunschkonzert). 

Here is a list of possible kloppisms and the English expression. Do you recognise them?

“Don’t be the offended liver sausage!”- Don’t get in a huff!

“That is jacket like trousers.” – It’s the same difference.         

“Keep the ears stiff” – Keep your chin up.

“Dead trousers” – Nothing happening/doing.

“A soft egg” – A wimp or wussy.


Heimweh oder Fernweh?

Whilst it’s easy to translate Heimweh (homesickness) into English, I am really struggling to find an English word to describe Fernweh. Perhaps you can help.

Homesickness: “a feeling of longing for your home during a period of absence from it.

Example: ” I have lived in Germany for 22 years and have never felt homesick”


Maybe we can use these words but I am not convinced.

Wanderlust: “a strong desire to travel.”

Itchy feet: “a sense of boredom or restlessness causing a desire to travel or move on.”

When compared with homesickness these definitions do not seem strong enough. There is no suggestion of pain or heartache.

What do you think?

Cemetery or graveyard?

As is often the case there are two English words for one German. Der Friedhof can be translated as  graveyard or cemetery, but what is the difference?

A cemetery: “a large burial ground, especially one not in a churchyard.” These can range from the famous Highgate Cemetery in London (this on my list of places to visit) to the very moving World War I cemeteries at Ypres in Belgium.

A graveyard:a burial ground, especially one beside a church.”   These are steeped in family history, especially as the graves don’t get removed. Unlike here in Germany, where families lease grave sites for a specific period of time, usually from 15 to 30 years, in England you get to keep the plot (gravestone and all) – it is yours for life (or eternity).

The English graveyards are usually maintained by the church and one of the cheapest and most effective ways is to allow sheep to graze on and around the graves. This is quite a strange scene for a non-English visitor.