The ongoing struggle of formal/informal speech

german confusedOne of the great irritations of German, apart from having genders and weird pluralising and everything else that goes on… is formal speech. You could say it is a little similar to English… but only in a very subtle way. In English, it’s normal to refer to someone older than you as Mrs or Mr so-and-so… until there comes a time where they tell you it’s fine to call them by their first name. But come on, that’s simple!

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The making of a Kornspitz – and the fulfilment of a goal

Kornspitz_sandwichWhen I first came to Austria I got extremely excited by the prospect of ordering a sandwich at the deli. Yes, yes, I know… the bubble I live in is a strange and wonderful one. But back to the story – at most supermarkets, you can grab yourself a roll (be it white, round, long, or if you’re like me, a Kornspitz), then ask the staff behind the counter to fill it with ham, cheese and gherkins.

I love checking out the selection of rolls (even though I now always stick with my Kornspitz, kind of like how I always order a Big Mac). I love considering the different ham and salami options – but here I’m a creature of habit too, and I can’t move past the garlic-salami. Cheese and gherkins are added, and then my instant sandwich is packaged up at a ridiculously low cost. We often resort to these for quick lunches on the go and we buy one every time we are about to get on a plane in Austria.

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“Learn a language,” they said. “It’ll be fun, they said.” – Debunking the myth that there are ‘fun’ ways to learn a language

German English dictionary

When I first started learning German, naturally I did all kinds of Google searches on hints, tips and tricks to learning a language faster. There must be some kind of magic formula, I assumed, and if I could just unveil it, fluency would be mine!

Well, sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but there just isn’t. Sure, there’s plenty of ideas, but none of them take away from the fact that learning a language comes with hard work and practice.

One thing I came across a lot was so-called ‘fun’ and ‘easy’ ways to learn another language. I clung onto those with everything I had. Options like watching movies in a foreign language, reading local newspapers and listening to the local radio… sure these may sound like fun, but actually, they’re not.

Here’s why these methods are actually no fun at all, and up until now, have barely helped me.

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Feel like watching a movie in English tonight? Good luck finding it!

During my travels some friends and I found ourselves in Croatia, and on this particular day, unmotivated, we visited the cinema to watch ‘The Very Bad Trip – Part II’ – that is – The Hangover Part II. It puzzled me then and it puzzles me still, who decides on the sometimes very special movie titles when they’re translated into different languages. I’ve come across many more in Austria, so here are some of my favourites – and I’ll translate them literally so you can enjoy them the same way I do.

Back to the future translation
Here’s one where the movie title actually does translate well

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