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Lesson Transcript

Chuck: Chuck here. Absolute Beginner, Season 1, Lesson 21 – “Writing a Postcard From Germany”.
Judith: Hi, my name is [Judith] and I’m joined here by Chuck.
Chuck: Hello everyone and welcome back to GermanPod101.
Judith: What are we learning today?
Chuck: This lesson, you’ll learn how to write a postcard in German.
Judith: This conversation takes place at a German café.
Chuck: The conversation is between Joe and [Anke]
Judith: The speakers are friends. Therefore, they will be speaking informal German.
Chuck: Let’s listen to the conversation.
Joe: Okay, also… „Lieber Michael,…“
Anke: Du kannst auch „Hallo Michael“ schreiben…
Joe: Ach so, … aber ich nehme „Lieber Michael“.
Anke: Gut.
Joe: „…wie geht es dir? Mir geht es gut.“….“Ich bin jetzt in Berlin und ich finde die Stadt toll!“
Anke: Mensch, du schreibst doch wirklich gut!
Joe: Oh, danke. Aber ich werde sicher noch Fehler machen.
Anke: Na, wir werden sehen.
Joe: Also weiter… „Ich sitze gerade am Kudamm mit einer Freundin in einem Kaffee und esse Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte.“
Anke: Warte! „Kaffee“ ist nicht richtig. „Der Kaffee“ ist das Getränk, aber der Ort heißt „das Café“ mit „C“, einem „f“ und einem „e“. Und du sitzt ja nicht in einem Getränk!
Joe: Haha, ja... also dann „Café“…
Anke: Ja.
Joe: Gut, dann weiter… „Später werden Anke und ich die Gedächtniskirche sehen…“
Anke: Hmm, das heißt „die Gedächtniskirche besichtigen“.
Joe: Oh okay. … „besichtigen“. … Hmm, was kann ich noch schreiben?
Anke: Du kannst erzählen, was du noch in Berlin besichtigen wirst?
Joe: Ja, stimmt. „In den nächsten Tagen werde ich noch zum Potsdamer Platz gehen, auf den Fernsehturm steigen und das Brandenburger Tor besichtigen. Ich hoffe, dass Anke mitkommen wird...“
Anke: Haha, ja. Ich komme gerne mit!
Joe: Haha, schön! „Michael, wenn du Zeit hast, kann ich dich ja in München besuchen. Viele Grüße aus Berlin, Dein Joe“…
Anke: Super. Dann gehen wir jetzt zur Post und werfen die Postkarte ein!
Joe: Ja, dann los!
Joe: Okay, so... "Dear Michael,..."
Anke: You can also write "Hallo Michael,..."
Joe: Ah,... but I'll take "Dear Michael".
Anke: Good.
Joe: "How are you? I'm well." "I am in Berlin now and I find the city is great!"
Anke: Man, you do write really well!
Joe: Oh, thanks. But I will certainly make mistakes.
Anke: Well, we shall see.
Joe: So continuing... "I am sitting on the Kudamm in a coffee with a friend and I'm eating Black Forest Cherry Cake."
Anke: Wait! "Coffee" is not right. The “coffee" is a beverage, but the place is called "the café", with "C", an "F" and an "E". And you’re not sitting on a beverage!
Joe: Haha, yes... so then "Café".
Anke: Yes.
Joe: Good, then further... "Later Anke and I will see the Memorial Church."
Anke: Mmm, that’s called "tour to the Memorial Church".
Joe: Oh okay. ..."to tour". ... Hmm, what else can I write?
Anke: You can tell what else you have visited in Berlin.
Joe: Yes, that's right. "In the next few days, I shall go to the Potsdamer Platz, climb the TV tower and sight-see the Brandenburg Gate. I hope that Anke will come along."
Anke: Haha, yes. I'll gladly come along!
Joe: Haha, nice! "Michael, if you have time, I can visit you in Munich. Greetings from Berlin, Your Joe" .
Anke: Great. Then we'll go to the post office now and throw in the postcard!
Joe: Yes, let's go!
Judith: Now, since this was all about writing a letter or a postcard, still like a letter form, how would you talk about, how to do that in German? For example, I can tell you that Joe started correctly, he said [Lieber] and then the name and that only works for a male friend though. If you’re writing to a female friend, then you have to drop the final “r” and write [Liebe] instead.
Chuck: And also note that [Hallo] is an acceptable way to start a personal letter today, especially if you’re doing it by email.
Judith: However, if you’re writing a formal letter, [Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren] is the way to go. This [Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren] is a standard greeting formula in letters and it literally means “Very honored Ladies and Gentleman”.
Chuck: It sounds much more ordinary than like “Dear sir or ma’am”, which still sounds to me very stilted.
Judith: Mm-mm. But if you know who you’re writing to, then you should start with [Sehr geehrte Frau x or Sehr geehrter Herr y]. You don’t need to address it formally to ladies and gentlemen, just one particular one.
Chuck: After addressing them like this, you should start a new line and make sure your first letter is lowercase if the greeting ended in a coma. Note that this German convention is different from the English one.
Judith: Yes and then obviously, you’ll write your letter, but how to end it? There’s a German word you need to know for this and it is [der Gruß].
Chuck: “The greeting”
Judith: The plural is [Grüße].
Chuck: “Greetings”
Judith: When you end a letter, just before signing your name, this word will invariably come up. If you’re writing to a business acquaintance, then you should end your letter with [Mit freundlichen Grüßen]
Chuck: “With friendly greetings”
Judith: Yeah, it’s equivalent to “Best regards”. [Mit freundlichen Grüßen]
Chuck: If you’re writing to friends or family, you should choose less formal phrases like [Viele Grüße] or [Liebe Grüße].
Judith: Yes. “Many greetings”, “Dear greetings”.
Chuck: A nice thing to think about in this case is that if you’re using [Sie], then you want the formal greeting, and if you’re using [Du] then you want the informal greeting.
Judith: And if you’re writing to a friend or family, then you might also want to sign your name as [dein] or [deine]. Women have to use [deine]. This makes it more personal.
Chuck: It sounds a bit like “Yours” or “Yours truly”.
Judith: No, because “Yours truly” is kind of like [Liebe Grüße]. You put it at that place; whereas, [deine] you put it immediately before your name.
Chuck: Ah, you’re right! I never noticed that before. Let’s take a look at the vocabulary for this lesson.
Chuck: The first word is?
Judith: [Lieb]
Chuck: “Dear” or “cherished”
Judith: [Lieb, Lieb]
Chuck: Next?
Judith: [Stadt]
Chuck: “Town” or “city”
Judith: [Stadt, die Stadt] and the plural is [Städte].
Chuck: Next?
Judith: [Fehler]
Chuck: “Mistake” or “error”
Judith: [Fehler, der Fehler] and the plural is the same.
Chuck: Next?
Judith: [weiter]
Chuck: “Further, on” or “to continue to”.
Judith: [weiter, weiter]
Chuck: Next?
Judith: [sitzen]
Chuck: “To sit”
Judith: [sitzen, sitzen]
Chuck: Next?
Judith: [gerade]
Chuck: “Straight, just, just now” or “right now”.
Judith: [gerade, gerade]
Chuck: Next?
Judith: [essen]
Chuck: “To eat”
Judith: [essen, essen] this is a vowel-changing verb, so the second and third person use an “I” instead [Du isst, Er isst], double “s”.
Chuck: Next?
Judith: [richtig]
Chuck: “Correct” or “really”
Judith: [richtig, richtig]
Chuck: Next?
Judith: [Getränk]
Chuck: “Drink” or “beverage”
Judith: [Getränk, das Getränk] and the plural is [Getränke]
Chuck: Next?
Judith: [Ort]
Chuck: “Town, place” or “location”.
Judith: [Ort, der Ort] and the plural is [Orte]
Chuck: Next?
Judith: [besichtigen]
Chuck: “To tour” or “inspect”.
Judith: [besichtigen, besichtigen]
Chuck: Next?
Judith: [erzählen]
Chuck: “To tell”
Judith: [erzählen, erzählen]
Chuck: Next?
Judith: [Das ist stimmt]
Chuck: “That’s right!”
Judith: [Das stimmt. Das stimmt]
Chuck: Next?
Judith: [nächster]
Chuck: “Next”
Judith: [nächster, nächster]
Chuck: Let’s have a closer look at the usage for some of the words and phrases from this lesson.
Judith: The first word I want to talk about is [der Fernsehturm].
Chuck: “The TV tower”.
Judith: Yes. It’s a well-known Berlin sight. The German literally translates it to “TV tower” because [das Fernsehen] is “the TV” as in TV programing, not the machine, that would be [Fernseher] with an “R” but [das Fernsehen] and [der Turm] is “the tower”.
Chuck: Some Germans like to joke that it’s the far-seeing tower.
Judith: Yes, because [fern] is “far” and [sehen] is “seeing” yeah. That’s what TV translates to in German. And the other thing is [stimmt].
Chuck: It’s a colloquial abbreviation of [Das stimmt]

Lesson focus

Chuck: Today we’re not studying more grammar. We like to give a chance to review what we’ve studied so far. It was a lot. Irregular verbs like [finden], the vowel-changing verb like [essen], separable verbs like [mitkommen or einwerfen], the regular verbs like [sein und haben], modal verbs like [können und müssen]. Do you remember how to conjugate all of those, and can you recall all five types of noun plurals?
Judith: We also looked at word order and this one we should review in depth at this point. The rule is that in basic sentences like [Ich finde die Stadt toll], the verb is always in second position. That is why [Anke] said [Dann gehen wir jetzt zur Post]. She did not say [Dann wir gehen jetzt zur Post]. I can hardly say that. It’s not natural.
Chuck: Yeah, that sounds really strange to people when they hear you. The [dann] is in first position and the verb has to come in second position, leaving the subject in third position. It’s a bit unusual for English speakers, but you’ll get used to it.
Judith: Yes, we also had cases where there´s more than one verb. For example, when using a modal verb or the future tense. Compare [Später werden Anke und ich die Gedächtniskirche sehen]. The rule is that the first verb which is [werden], in this case, is in second position. [später werden] and any other verbs are at the end of the sentence, like in this case we have [sehen] at the end of the sentence.
Chuck: Then there’s the issue of sub-clauses. In sub-clauses all verbs move to the end of the sentence. In today’s dialogue, for example, you can see this in the phrases [Du kannst erzählen, was du noch in Berlin besichtigen wirst] and [Michael, wenn du Zeit hast, kann ich dich ja in München besuchen]. As you see, the sub-clauses will come before the main sentence, just like in English.
Judith: Yes. It should be pretty easy.


Chuck: Well, that does it for today. Premium members, use the review track to perfect your pronunciation.
Judith: Available in the premium section of the website.
Chuck: The learning center.
Judith: And through iTunes, we have the “premium feed”.
Chuck: The review track gives you vocabulary and phrases followed by a short pause so that you can repeat the words aloud.
Judith: The best way to get good fast!
Chuck: Okay, see you next week!
Judith: [Also bis nächste Woche]