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Lesson Transcript

Chuck: This is Intermediate Series Lesson 12.
Judith: Willkommen zurück.
Chuck: Welcome back, listeners. GermanPod101 is pausing the beginner lessons this week, but if you have to get your fix the intermediate series is here to help you out. And don’t forget to check out our archives too cause I bet you haven’t heard every lesson we’ve made.
Judith: And this a really important lesson for you too.
Chuck: Why?
Judith: Today we’ll cover one of the most useful German tenses, the perfect past tense, and we’ll talk about songs that kids may learn to sing at school.
Chuck: Ok. What’s today’s song? You’re doing a children’s song today?
Judith: No, at least not really.
Chuck: Ok, yes or no?
Judith: Today we’ll learn about a German folk song by Hannes Wader. The song a kids’ song but it sometimes appears in songbooks too nowadays and kids may learn it.
Chuck: And what’s the name of the song?
Judith: It’s Heute hier, morgen dort.
Chuck: I don’t know it, but if it’s a kids song it should be easy. Let’s go through it. Judith’s going to sing now.
Judith: No, I never sing. I can’t sing. I got thrown out of choir.
Chuck: Everyone write in the comments that you want Judith to sing.
Judith: Please don’t, stop this nonsense. We don’t need two inept people singing.
Chuck: Hey, who’s inept besides you? I mean, ok, let’s just read…
Judith: Heute hier, morgen dort, bin kaum da, muss ich fort.
Chuck: “Today here, tomorrow there, I'm hardly there, I must go...”?
Judith: “Away”.
Chuck: Ah.
Judith: “I'm hardly there and I already have to go away.” Hab mich niemals deswegen beklagt.
Chuck: “I’ve never…” beklagen?
Judith: “To complain”.
Chuck: Ah, right.
Judith: Sich beklagen.
Chuck: So “I’ve never complained about that”.
Judith: Hab es selbst so gewählt.
Chuck: “I myself so chosen”.
Judith: Yes. “I’ve chosen this lifestyle myself”. Nie die Jahre gezählt.
Chuck: “Never to count the years.”
Judith: “Never counted the years.” Nie nach gestern und morgen gefragt.
Chuck: “Never asked about tomorrow or yesterday.”
Judith: Easy so far, isn’t it?
Chuck: Not bad.
Judith: And then there’s the chorus. Manchmal träume ich schwer.
Chuck: “Sometimes I have heavy dreams” By “heavy dreams” you mean “nightmares”?
Judith: No, I think in this case he’s talking about deep thoughts, just a lot of pondering, what if and…
Chuck: Ok.
Judith: Und dann denk ich es wär Zeit zu bleiben.
Chuck: “And then I think it’s time to stay”.
Judith: “It would be”, literally. Es wär. Es wäre.
Chuck: Ok.
Judith: They are missing the E’s there, denk, denke. Wär, wäre.
Chuck: Ok.
Judith: Und nun was ganz anderes zu tun.
Chuck: “And now to do something completely different.”
Judith: So vergeht Jahr um Jahr.
Chuck: “So I forget from year to year.”
Judith: No, vergehen is “to pass”, “to go by”, even “to die”. But in this case it’s “to go by”.
Chuck: So “it goes by year to year”?
Judith: Year after year goes by.
Chuck: Ok.
Judith: Und es ist mir längst klar.
Chuck: “And it’s been long clear to me.”
Judith: Dass nichts bleibt, dass nichts bleibt wie es war.
Chuck: “That nothing stays, that nothing stays like it was”. This sounds quite philosophical to be a children’s song.
Judith: I told you it’s not a children’s song. It’s just a folk song that may now be studied by children. Dass man mich kaum vermisst, schon nach Tagen vergisst.
Chuck: “Then…”
Judith: “That”, it’s a sub clause which is resolved later.
Chuck: “That one rarely misses me”?
Judith: Yes, or “hardly”, kaum.
Chuck: See, I wouldn’t be able to understand that. “Already to forget the days”?
Judith: No, “already forgets me after days”. The “me” is implied, but the vermisst and the vergisst have the same subject, “people”, man.
Chuck: Ok.
Judith: “That people hardly miss me, that they are forgetting me after certain days, after I'm gone.” Wenn ich längst wieder anderswo bin.
Chuck: “If I’ve been a long time again somewhere else”?
Judith: By the time when I’ve been somewhere else for a long time already.
Chuck: Yeah, it’s like I understand all the words but the order is just so weird.
Judith: Yeah, maybe sometime we should do another German lesson about the word order but we already had one so for now we have to do something else.

Lesson focus

Chuck: Is some of this is sort of a poetic word order or it’s just very standard?
Judith: No, this is pretty standard. I mean apart from the rhyming. Wenn ich längst, so längst is “long ago” or “for a long time, already, I’ve been in a different place”. Stört und kümmert mich nicht.
Chuck: “It doesn’t bother me”.
Judith: “It doesn’t disturb me” and “it doesn’t bother me”. Stören “to disturb” and kümmern “to care”, so “I don’t care”.
Chuck: Ok.
Judith: “I don’t care if they miss me when I'm already somewhere else.” Vielleicht bleibt mein Gesicht doch dem ein oder anderen im Sinn.
Chuck: “Maybe my face will still stay”?
Judith: Yes, “my face will stay”. Doch dem ein oder anderem im Sinn.
Chuck: Yeah, loses me there. I understand every word but putting them altogether…
Judith: Well, doch is like an affirmation, like “yet”, “yet stay”. Im Sinn is the key here, “in the mind”, “in mind” it’s the English expression. Sinn can be a lot of things, it can be “sense”, it can be “meaning”, it can be “sense” in the sense of body sense, like seeing or smelling. But in this case it’s the mind, im Sinn, “in mind”, so “Maybe my face will yet stay in the mind of one or other person”. Dem ein oder anderen. Somebody or somebody else, who knows? And then the chorus again, the part with Manchmal träume ich schwer, “Sometimes I have deep dreams or heavy dreams” and then Fragt mich einer, warum ich so bin.
Chuck: “Someone asked me why I am so”?
Judith: Yeah, or “like this”.
Chuck: Oh yeah.
Judith: And this is a special word order because he put in the inversion there, Fragt mich, even though there’s no reason for it. He should be saying einer fragt mich and this can imply, it’s a condition. If somebody asks me why I am like this, bleib ich stumm.
Chuck: “Then I stay mute.”
Judith: Denn die Antwort darauf fällt mir schwer.
Chuck: “Because the answer about that is difficult to me.”
Judith: Yes, it’s a German expression - schwer fallen, es fällt schwer “it is difficult”. Denn was neu ist wird alt.
Chuck: “Because what is neu becomes old.”
Judith: “What is new”, you said neu.
Chuck: Close enough. Just change a letter, they get it.
Judith: Und was gestern noch galt.
Chuck: “And what was still got yesterday.”
Judith: No. “And what was still valid yesterday.”
Chuck: Ah, so galt is a form of gültig?
Judith: No, gültig is yet another thing. It’s all on the basis of gelten. Gelten is “to be valid” or “to be valued” and so galt is the past tense of that. Gelten is a vowel changing verb, so es gilt, “it is valid”, es galt “it was valid”, and es hat gegolten, “it has been”.
Chuck: That sounds evil.
Judith: Yeah, it’s a standard vowel changing past tense form. You know in English you have them too, like sing, sang, sung.
Chuck: Yeah.
Judith: And this is the same.
Chuck: But is…
Judith: Gilt, galt, gegolten.
Chuck: But is gültig a completely different root?
Judith: Gültig is kind of based on the same thing but it’s an adjective, it means “valid”.
Chuck: Ok.
Judith: So it’s not immediately derived from the verb but it’s the same basic idea.
Chuck: Alright.
Judith: Ok, so was gestern noch galt, stimmt schon heut oder morgen nicht mehr.
Chuck: “Is no longer true today or tomorrow”.
Judith: Yes, “what was valid today no longer so.” And then the chorus again and that’s the song.
Chuck: Cool.
Judith: The song of somebody who wonders a lot.
Chuck: It doesn’t sound like the kids would be wondering that much.
Judith: No…
Chuck: Maybe that’s where they get the Wanderlust from.
Judith: Well, kids do sing a lot of hiking songs in Germany. But yeah, they might sing this song. I don’t think this is really a song that encourages people to hike or something. We have different songs for that that everybody would sing. You know the schools often go on class trips, and then there’s songs that everybody would sing together to have something to do while marching and… not marching, walking.
Chuck: Like 99 bottles of beer on the wall, 99 bottles of beer.
Judith: No, that would be a drinking song. No, I can’t mention one right now but there are songs that they have just for that. But I think the most common, most famous German children’s song in Germany would be Alle meine Entchen.
Chuck: Wait, I know this form the Wise Guys. Like Alle meine Entchen.
Judith: Oh, that’s a different version. Can you do the real?
Chuck: I don’t think so.
Judith: Ok.
Chuck: Unless it starts with Alle meine alle meine alle meine alle meine alle meine alle meine Entchen.
Judith: No. It doesn’t sound cool at all. It’s just a simple song. It starts with - how do you say - a scale, you know, just going up to the next note all the time. It’s really easy. It’s probably what keyboard players learn here, when they first learn how to play the keyboard. It’s so easy to play.
Chuck: So all my little ducklings…
Judith: But it’s really a song for the really young kids.
Chuck: Well, with a title like “All my ducklings” I could see that.
Judith: That’s true. I think the most famous German song abroad though is Oh Tannenbaum.
Chuck: Yeah, of course.
Judith: Christmas carol. Any other songs that you remember? It’s always hard to say songs are German. For example, Stille Nacht, “Silent night”, it’s also very famous here but I'm not sure it’s German of origin or if it’s a translation.
Chuck: We leave that as an exercise to the listener.
Judith: That works. So we have a lot of Christmas carols and of course there are more occasions for seasonal songs, for example there’re songs for St. Nicolas day, December 6, because St. Nicolas in Germany brings small presents for the kids, and if we have any lesson around that date you’ll be sure to hear more about it. And there is St. Martin’s day on November 11th.
Chuck: What happens on St. Martin’s day?
Judith: On or around St. Martin’s day all primary schools and kindergartens organize processions and the kids go around holdings lanterns, and sometimes they’re accompanied by marching bands even or a guy on a horse representing the St. Martin. And so while they go around the quarter, they sing songs either about the life of St. Martin or about the lanterns. So this is definitely another occasion to learn a lot of songs for kids. And of course there are songs about the seasons, like autumn and spring especially. Now, in music class, if you go to primary school or secondary school music class you’ll be learning and hiking songs and traditional German folk songs, also well-known modern ones, like this one, as an example. And you may even learn English spirituals or English folk songs, sometimes before you know enough English to really sing them well. For example I remember learning “My bunny is over the ocean”. I still can’t pronounce that song right when I'm singing it.
Chuck: Did you also stand up and sit down when you pronounced the words starting with B?
Judith: No. what’s that?
Chuck: Oh, that’s what makes it fun. When you sang it, every time you had a word that started with B like “bunny” or “brings” or… you would stand up or sit down and it was just really fun to see the whole, like, camp with all the kids getting up, standing up and sitting down.
Judith: Yeah, what I find funny is one time, in Latin class, like before the holidays when nobody wanted to do any work anymore, my teacher brought us these songs translated to Latin. And seeing them like that, and “My bunny is over the ocean” would actually become that. It was funny.
Chuck: Nice.
Judith: Ok, there’s also. I believe I forgot to mention them so far. They’re very popular with music teacher, but later the music class is not so much about singing, instead you’ll be learning to read notes, learning how to form an accord, learning about musical styles or famous pieces of music or… you’ll be learning about the world anthems too. I think that’s a part that’s missing in American education. And if you sing something it’s probably art songs. I don't know if you’ve heard of them, but songs composed by famous composers who would otherwise be doing symphonies and the like. They’ve made some songs to be sung and they’re art songs.
Chuck: What do you mean we don’t go over anthem? We went over our national anthem a lot in music class.
Judith: No, I mean anthems of other countries.
Chuck: You mean like “Oh Canada, my home and native land.”
Judith: Yes. You don’t need to sing any anthems in here. I mean we actually did the DDR national anthem, the American anthem, the French anthem, the Italian anthem. The book we had, the school book, even featured the Korean anthem, but unfortunately nobody could sing it. We didn’t have enough Koreans in our class. Anyway, this is an exercise to get to know what the anthems say.
Chuck: Alright.
Judith: One thing that’s really conspicuously absent is the military songs. I mean German has a lot of military songs but ever since the Second World War nobody sings them anymore. Or any kind of song that talks about honor and duty and the like. Germany has just seen too much of that.
Chuck: Yeah.
Judith: Well, it’s all in the past. And I guess if you want to talk about the past you need to urgently learn a new tense, the perfect tense.
Chuck: Does that mean that I can’t make any mistake when I use it?
Judith: No. The perfect tense is the more common past tense in spoken German. You know we learned the preterite past tense before. And this one is actually more complex but unfortunately it’s more common because in spoken German it’s basically almost everything that you use. It sounds more colloquial.
Chuck: I’d actually say it’s much simpler cause with the preterite you’re always changing the verb some way. I never remember how they change.
Judith: For the past tense, for the perfect tense you may need to learn some changes too because it’s based on the perfect participle that we discussed in lesson 6 and 7, and this perfect participle is not always regular. Do you remember anything that we said about the perfect participle?
Chuck: Not at the moment.
Judith: That’s bad.
Chuck: I think I need to review the PDFs
Judith: Yeah, lesson 6 and 7. 6 is the basic rules, 7 is the exceptions. Anyway, it’s something like gelernt.
Chuck: Oh wait, gesehen and stuff like that?
Judith: Yes.
Chuck: Ah ok, I knew that stuff.
Judith: The most obvious…
Chuck: I just don’t know the term for it.
Judith: Ok. Well the most obvious sign is the GE but the GE might be hidden inside the word, like angesehen, “looked at”, or it might be dropped entirely if it’s a word with a non-splitting prefix.
Chuck: Like ausgeworfen?
Judith: Yes, “thrown out”. I wonder where you got that example from. Did somebody throw you out lately?
Chuck: No. I was throwing out the GermanPod, I mean…
Judith: Hey. I’ll leave that be. Let’s look at the forms because we really don’t’ have that much time. So to make the perfect tense, you take the correct form of haben and then you add perfect participle of whatever verb you were intending to say. And there are some exceptions to this rule but we’ll do them next week. So for now let’s just have some examples. For example, ich habe gedachtr.
Chuck: “I thought” or “I have thought”.
Judith: Du hast mich gefragt.
Chuck: “You asked me” or “you have asked me”. Get that first part be like “you hate me, you hate me to say”.
Judith: No. Du hasst if you spell it with double S it means “hate”, but du hast with one S is only “you have”. And Rammstein in their song, du hast, actually put du hast mich gefragt except they split it up at the beginning so it’s only du hast and du hast, du hasst mich, “you hate me”, it could be misunderstood in saying. Then du hast mich gefragt, “you have asked me”. It’s a play on words that you can’t do in English. Anyway, du hast mich gefragt is an example of this perfect tense and let’s get a longer example. Wir haben den Unfall an der Kreuzung gestern gesehen.
Chuck: Oh. “We have the accident on the intersection yesterday seen.”
Judith: Yes.
Chuck: “We saw the accident on the intersection yesterday.”
Judith: Yes. Mind your verb placement. In German, you know that the first verb goes in second position and the rest pile up at the end of the sentence like the gesehen in this case. Everything else goes first.
Chuck: But when is this used? I mean when do you use this and when do you use the preterite, for example?
Judith: If you look at Spanish, French or English, there’s a real difference between saying “we saw” “we have seen”. It depends on the time context of the statement and that’s really hard to learn for a student. In German it’s much easier because the preterite past tense is used in writing and the perfect past tense is used in talking, cause if you use the preterite tense in talking then you sound old fashioned or literal even.
Chuck: And I guess you sound way too laid back if you use the perfect tense in, like, letters, right?
Judith: In letters it’s still ok, but imagine putting it in an essay. It sounds like you don’t know how to write.
Chuck: So I guess it’s ok in email, for example.
Judith: Yeah, it sounds colloquial. That’s the thing - it sounds like you’re talking, it doesn’t sound like you’re writing. A couple of short and very common preterite forms still that are preferred in speaking because they’re just shorter. War is among that, “was”, and hatte, “had”. But other than that I can’t even remember anything that would be preferably used with preferite. Any other verb just put it in perfect tense when you’re talking.


Chuck: So, anyway, if you’re confused already, you can read the PDF to review this grammar point.