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Lesson Transcript

Chuck: This is Intermediate Series Lesson 15.
Judith: Willkommen.
Chuck: Welcome. I'm glad you’re with us again cause today everybody’s going to suffer through a song that I asked Judith to do.
Judith: Yeah, but I think it’s kind of nice too so no suffering on my part at least. Do you want to tell people what song it is?
Chuck: Sure, it’s the song Köln ist einfach korrekt, so “Cologne is just right” by the Wise Guys. But the Wise Guys actually have quite a few funny German songs.
Judith: But the name Wise Guys is English.
Chuck: Yeah, but they’re actually a German band from Cologne.
Judith: Ah, that would explain why they’re singing about Cologne in this song.
Chuck: Yeah, note that Cologne is the English translation of Köln. Their specialty is a Capella singing, without any instruments at all. It sounds good.
Judith: If you want to listen to this song, you can find a link on the GermanPod101 website in this lesson’s description. On GermanPod101 you can also find a lot of tools to help you improve your German.
Chuck: Alright, so let’s go through the song and translate it. So Judith’s going to sing now.
Judith: No, I'm not going to sing but I'm going to read the song to you.
Chuck: Come on, sing.
Judith: No singing, sorry, I don’t sing. I'm not a singer.
Chuck: In Berlin kann man kulturell...
Judith: Yeah you don’t need to sing either.
Chuck: Ok.
Judith: In Berlin kann man kulturell sehr viel erleben.
Chuck: “In Berlin one can experience a lot of culture.”
Judith: Yes. Und in München solls ein super schrilles Nachtleben geben.
Chuck: “And Munich has a very nice…” schrilles is…
Judith: schrill, yeah.
Chuck: “Thrilling”?
Judith: “Flashy”.
Chuck: Oh, “flashy nightlife”.
Judith: Yes, but it doesn’t say it has but it soll geben, es soll geben, “it is said that they have”.
Chuck: Ah. They should, no?
Judith: Yeah, literally they should, but es soll geben, es soll etwas geben “it’s said”.
Chuck: Ok.
Judith: Hamburg ist die einzig wahre Metropole.
Chuck: “Hamburg is the only true metropolis.”
Judith: Und das Ruhrgebiet hat viel mehr drauf als Fußball und Kohle.
Chuck: “And the Ruhr region has a lot more than just soccer and coal.”
Judith: Two things that they’re really known for. Steuern hinterziehen kann man am Besten in Baden.
Chuck: “Evading taxes you can do best in Baden”?
Judith: Steuern hinterziehen, “Dodge taxes”, “evade taxes”. Im Allgäu kriegt der Wandervogel strammere Waden.
Chuck: “In Allgäu…”
Judith: It’s a region in Germany.
Chuck: Yeah. “Receives something, something, something.”
Judith: Yeah, der Wandervogel. Wandervogel is a bird that likes to go south for the winter because the winters are too cold in Germany.
Chuck: Ok.
Judith: Not sure what you call these birds in English, but in this case it’s used in a figurative sense anyway because Wandervogel, they’re talking about hikers here. Wandern, to hike. So “if you love hiking then in the Allgäu you can get firmer calves, as in you can do lots of walking so it’s hardly anything else to do around there. Auf Sylt riecht die Nase frische Meeresluft. In Frankfurt Börsenduft.
Chuck: Ok. So in Sylt it’s a…
Judith: German island.
Chuck: German island, ok. “that now smells the fresh sea air”.
Judith: Yes.
Chuck: “And in Frankfurt the stock market…”
Judith: “Stock market scent”. Duft is also “scent”, “smell”.
Chuck: Ok.
Judith: Duft is usually a pleasant smell. Geruch is neutral.
Chuck: So “the pleasant stocks”.
Judith: No, “the pleasant smell of the stock market”. Die Börse, “the stock market”. And the chorus, Es gibt vieles, was ich gerne mag, in anderen Städten und Ländern.
Chuck: “There’s a lot that I really like in other cities and states”?
Judith: “Countries”.
Chuck: But Länder here means “other German states”.
Judith: No, no.
Chuck: No?
Judith: I wouldn’t say.
Chuck: Ok. That’s how I would interpret it but ok. Couldn’t that be either meaning.
Judith: I believe you really have to say Bundesländer if you mean other federal states, but it’s about the same if you say “other cities, other countries”.
Chuck: Ok.
Judith: I think he means every area.
Chuck: Ok.
Judith: Bis zum heutigen Tag konnt ichs trotzdem nicht ändern.
Chuck: “Even up to today I however can’t change…”?
Judith: “I couldn’t change it”, konnte.
Chuck: Ah right.
Judith: Yeah, it’s abbreviated as konnt. And ichs is actually ich es. This song is very colloquial, you can learn a lot of colloquial language with it.
Judith: Ich fühl mich hier wohl.
Chuck: “I found myself nicely here.”
Judith: “I feel good here”, “I feel well”, “I feel accepted”, “I feel welcome”, “I like it here”.
Chuck: Ok.
Judith: Trotz KVB und FC, trotz Geklüngel und Filz.
Chuck: Think you’ve lost me there.
Judith: Yeah, abbreviations that... KVB I didn’t know before either, it’s the Cologne transport company and FC is, of course, the FC Köln, the soccer club.
Chuck: Ah ok.
Judith: So they’re listing their transport company and the soccer club as reasons not to like Cologne if you want. “I like it anyway”, they say. Trotz Geklüngel und Filz. “Despite the Communisum and the sleaze.” Filz can actually mean two things, either “felt” or in a political sense if you’re talking about political Filz it means “sleaze”.
Chuck: Ok.
Judith: So “despite all this” Kölsch ist besser als Pils.
Chuck: So “the beer in the Cologne region is better than Pils”.
Judith: Yes, it’s not just the beer in the Cologne region, but the Cologne type of beer. Kölsch is a type of beer, way of preparing the beer.
Chuck: Ok.
Judith: And Pils is especially associated with Düsseldorf.
Chuck: Do I hear there’s a big rivalry between Köln and Düsseldorf, isn’t there?
Judith: Yes, have to be careful about that.
Chuck: Wasn’t there some issue with the mayor?
Judith: Yeah. The mayor of – I don't know if it was the Mayor of Cologne going into a Düsseldorf pub or the mayor of Düsseldorf going into a Cologne pub. Anyway, he was quite unpopular after that. He was in the news, like… Here it wouldn’t be news-worthy. If the mayor of Berlin goes into a Potsdam pub nobody cares, but those two cities have rivalry going on.
Chuck: Yeah, I hear he didn’t get elected next session either.
Judith: Ich kanns nicht beschreiben doch ich werd wohl hier bleiben.
Chuck: “I can’t describe it but I’d really like to stay here.”
Judith: No, “I'm probably going to stay here”. Wohl is like “probably”. Egal obs dir schmeckt.
Chuck: “It doesn’t matter whether it’s…” Literally, “whether it tastes good to you”, but in this sense it’s more the…
Judith: “Doesn’t’ matter what you think about it” or “doesn’t matter if…”
Chuck: “Doesn’t matter what your taste”.
Judith: No, no. It means…
Chuck: “Doesn’t matter if it suits your taste,” no?
Judith: It’s Egal obs dir schmeckt. No, “it doesn’t matter if…” I would interpret it with the last line as in “I'm going to stay here no matter what you think about it or what you’re going to say about it”. But you can presumably also connect it with the next line which is Köln ist einfach korrekt. So Köln is just “great, no matter what you taste”. Well, I would still see it more with the previous line as in “I'm going to stay here anyway”.
Chuck: Korrekt is also a typical slang term for Turkish people, right?
Judith: It’s very, very slang, yes. Especially the Turkish use it all the time when speaking German - Korrekt Mann ey. The thing is it normally means “correct”, but in this sense it’s just “great”, “it’s great”.
Chuck: Yeah, the Wise Guys love their play on words.
Judith: Hier in Köln ist das Wetter eher wolkig als heiter.
Chuck: “Here in Cologne is the weather somewhat cloudier”?
Judith: No, “more likely to be cloudier, cloudy”.
Chuck: Than heiter?
Judith: Heiter is cloudless or nice, sunny, clear, yes. And you used the German word order, “Here in Cologne is the weather…” Der FC kommt seit Jahren sportlich keinen Schritt weiter.
Chuck: “The FC’s”, that’s that soccer club, for years hasn’t made any steps forward.
Judith: In a sports sense.
Chuck: Yeah. They keep losing, in other words.
Judith: Yes. Der Rhein schaut im Winter in der Altstadt vorbei.
Chuck: “The Rhine”, so the river, “goes away from the…”
Judith: No, “drops by”.
Chuck: Ah.
Judith: Vorbeischauen, “to drop by, “to visit”.
Chuck: Ok. What does that mean?
Judith: In the winters, the Rhine visits the old town as in there’s frequent flooding in the Cologne town. But they say it in a really cute way, “he drops by”.
Chuck: Yeah, the river’s just coming by for a visit.
Judith: Like an old acquaintance.
Chuck: Yeah. Nice.
Judith: 2, 40 Mark kostet jetzt ein Gläschen 0,2.
Chuck: So this song was written they still used the Deutsche Mark here and so historically a mark is about, let’s see, half a euro.
Judith: Half a euro, yes.
Chuck: Yeah. So 2.40 marks, that’d be about 1.20 euro but this is a while back, of course. Then there was a lot of money for a small glass. So Gläschen, you see, the chen at the end is making it smaller and then null komma zwei. Well, in Europe, in general, they use commas instead of periods. And so you would say 0,2. What’s that mean?
Judith: 0,2 liters. Yes.
Chuck: So it means 0,2 liters, that’s what I want to say.
Judith: Hey, I couldn’t get a word in otherwise too.
Chuck: That’s my clarifications, I'm clarifying it for the Americans. It’s my duty.
Judith: Anyway, 0,2 is very little.
Chuck: Yeah, it’s a very standard form of a small beer that you would get, for example.
Judith: Well, 0,3 even. But now I’d say 1.20 euro is rather cheap for this kind of…
Chuck: See… how large is a can of, a soda can, for example?
Judith: A soda can is typically a 0,33.
Chuck: So third of a liter is about, say, 12 ounces. So you can get a feel. It’s even less than 12 ounces.
Judith: Yeah.
Chuck: The small drink.
Judith: Einmal jährlich werden Spießer plötzlich Stimmungskanonen.
Chuck: “One time a year…” And then Spießer?
Judith: Spießer is a word, kind of like an insult to those who do everything like their parents, who are very boring who… in English I couldn’t find a translation really. Several suggestions, one is like bourgeois, bevet, a square in slang…
Chuck: Traditional people.
Judith: Not traditional just… People that are not…
Chuck: Boring?
Judith: Yeah. People that are not cool, they’re not revolutionary anything, just very adapted to the mainstream. For youths or young people, they would not see this as an ideal.
Chuck: Ok.
Judith: And Stimmungskanonen.
Chuck: “Voice cannons”.
Judith: No, Stimmung is sentiment or atmosphere. Kanone is “cannon”, it’s people that contribute a lot to the atmosphere, great jokers.
Chuck: Ok.
Judith: So once a year you have these otherwise boring, very, very typical people trying to be great jokers.
Chuck: I guess they’re talking about carnival, right?
Judith: Yes, of course, carnival is really big in Cologne and also in Düsseldorf.
Chuck: Yeah, it’s a time of the year where people will dress up in costumes and…
Judith: Have a lot of fun and sing nonsense songs and get drunk and everything.
Chuck: Yes.
Judith: One week. It’s a great time to visit.
Chuck: Yeah, it’s a good time if you live there to go out of town.
Judith: Yeah, either that or join in.
Chuck: Yes.
Judith: There are two movements. Ok, next line. Wer den kölschen Klüngel kennt, kann sich mit Pöstchen belohnen.
Chuck: Klüngel?
Judith: Klüngel, we had it above, it’s cronyism.
Chuck: So “Those who know the Cologne cronyism…”
Judith: As in “who knows how to get by with that…”
Chuck: Right. Ok, “a small mailbox”? No.
Judith: No.
Chuck: Pöstchen?
Judith: Post, Posten. Pöstchen is here diminutive of Posten, a position as in a job.
Chuck: Ah, right. Ok. It has nothing to do with the mailboxes.
Judith: Yeah.
Chuck: Belohnen is?
Judith: “To reward”.
Chuck: Ah, “to be rewarded with that position”. Ok.
Judith: They can reward themselves with the position. Herr Antwerpes möchte, dass wir alle 30 fahren auf der Autobahn.
Chuck: This is a bit of a pick at the Belgians…
Judith: No, it’s just a pick at one of the local politicians. It has nothing to do with Antwerpen.
Chuck: It doesn’t have anything to do with Antwerp?
Judith: No.
Chuck: Ok. Well, I’ve always misinterpreted that cause I know that the Germans and the northern part of Germany, they have jokes about the orange license plates of the Dutch people.
Judith: Yeah, but not against Belgians. Only the Dutch.
Chuck: Ok.
Judith: Now this is about… I assume it’s a mean politician, I don’t know him either, but it has to be a local politician who suggested that everybody should drive more slowly on the Autobahn. I think they’re overdoing it here saying people should be driving 30 kilometers per hours, which is like nothing.
Chuck: Yeah, it’s like 18 miles per hour on the highway.
Judith: Yes, yes. Or maybe they were talking about a part of the highway that runs right through the city. I don't know. It’s a local reference. And then there’s the chorus again and, at the end, there’s a part that sounds a bit different which goes like this - Es ist nicht dasselbe, wie an Isar und Elbe.
Chuck: “It’s not the same like on Isar and Elbe”.
Judith: That’s two of their rivers. Isar is the river through Munich and Elbe is the river through Berlin.
Chuck: I see.
Judith: And Köln ist nicht perfekt, Köln ist einfach korrekt.
Chuck: So “Cologne is not perfect, Cologne is just right”.
Judith: Yes. That’s for those who say that Munich is better or Berlin’s better. The song already mentioned a lot of cities and what they’re famous for. I remember hearing that in Berlin you have a lot of cultural experiences, which is certainly true, there is a lot of history in Berlin, particularly in Berlin that you can’t see in other cities.
Chuck: It’s also a lot of culture in theaters and movies and…
Judith: Yeah, a lot of things to do.
Chuck: Performances and everything.
Judith: Berlin is kind of like an island in the East of Germany. Everything is concentrated, it’s not like the Ruhr area. But in the Ruhr area there’s also a lot of things just not in every city you don’t have as many things but together, within reach, as in… within like half an hour of drive you can reach a lot, a lot of things. So the Ruhr area in Germany is mostly known for its many soccer clubs and coal industry, the steel industry, but there’s a lot more things to be seen there and… I believe this was actually a part of a slogan - Mehr als Fußball und Kohle. More than just soccer and coal.
Chuck: Ok.
Judith: And then we have Munich, of course. Have you been to Munich?
Chuck: No, I haven’t actually. Have you?
Judith: No, but maybe we need to go there because they’re talking that there’s a lot of nightlife in Munich, though the nightlife is pretty good in any German city.
Chuck: Yeah, if it’s big enough.
Judith: Hamburg, of course, second largest city in Germany. Then there’s the less rural areas like Baden and Allgäu that they talk about, and Sylt.
Chuck: Do they really mean there for tax evasion?
Judith: No. I don’t think it was meant seriously. Baden, the western part of Baden-Württemberg, it’s a nice region. It’s also where the Schwarzwald is, the Black Forest.
Chuck: I think there’s quite a lot of rich people there, right?
Judith: I don't know, maybe.
Chuck: I get the feeling.
Judith: Well, it’s a rich state compared to some of the East German ones.
Chuck: Yeah, Baden-Württemberg is the strongest economically, all of Germany.
Judith: Yeah. And of course the Allgäu is a very popular rural holiday region for Germans, attracting all the hikers too. And Sylt, well Sylt you can’t hike there much. It’s a German island, but you can sea bathe. Other than that it’s also very rural, not much in terms of big cities.
Chuck: Yeah.
Judith: And Frankfurt, of course, it’s a big city. Frankfurt is the only big city with a skyline.
Chuck: Yes.
Judith: The only place where you’ll see lots of skyscrapers.
Chuck: That’s quite amazing there. Sometimes you’ll even see.
Judith: Wow.
Chuck: Yeah, Frankfurt you’ll even see old buildings right next to very modern buildings.

Lesson focus

Judith: And of course it’s known for the stock exchange. But let’s do some grammar. In the song there were a lot of comparisons, and I want to talk about comparisons today. So, for example, one might say Köln ist schöner als Düsseldorf.
Chuck: So “Cologne is nicer than Düsseldorf”, but do you want to say something like that as an official word for our program?
Judith: Of course not, it’s just an example. I could also say Köln ist weniger schön als Düsseldorf.
Chuck: “Cologne is less nice than Düsseldorf”.
Judith: Yes, use the weniger to make it less.
Chuck: You might want to be more even here between them.
Judith: Yeah, yeah. Düsseldorf und Köln sind genauso schön.
Chuck: “Düsseldorf and Cologne are equally nice.” So we can be politically correct there.
Judith: To say that something is nicer, bigger, better or the like in German you just add ER to any adjective. English has a similar rule except in English you also sometimes have to add “more” instead. For example, for the word “beautiful” you can’t say “beautifuler”, you have to say “more beautiful”. And in German it’s not possible to use mehr, “more”, you just always have to add ER. As you can see in schöner and any other adjective. But the words less nice is that the adjectives in German still change according to the gender, number and case of the accompanying noun. So, in this song you saw, for example, strammere Waden.
Chuck: “More firm calves”.
Judith: And this is based on the adjective stramm. And I told you to just add ER, that would be strammerer but you’d have to say strammere because they’re plural. There are also a few irregular comparison forms, just like in English. For example there’s the word gut which changes to besser, so “good” changes to “better”.
Chuck: Right.


Judith: So it’s not hard to memorize for English speaker, because it’s the same change.
Chuck: So do you find it easy to understand? Let us know
Judith: We always like to know and hear your feedback.
Chuck: See you!
Judith: Bis später!