Learn New Words FAST with this Lesson’s Vocab Review List

Get this lesson’s key vocab, their translations and pronunciations. Sign up for your Free Lifetime Account Now and get 7 Days of Premium Access including this feature.

Or sign up using Facebook
Already a Member?

Lesson Notes

Unlock In-Depth Explanations & Exclusive Takeaways with Printable Lesson Notes

Unlock Lesson Notes and Transcripts for every single lesson. Sign Up for a Free Lifetime Account and Get 7 Days of Premium Access.

Or sign up using Facebook
Already a Member?

Lesson Transcript

Chuck: This is Intermediate Series Lesson 14.
Judith: Willkommen.
Chuck: Welcome to the 14th GermanPod101 Intermediate Lesson.
Judith: In this series we look at German songs. We go through the texts and use them to learn new vocabulary and grammar.
Chuck: Don’t forget that you can also review today’s vocabulary and grammar in the lesson notes or in the Learning Center.
Judith: Today we will look at the song Über den Wolken. This song is originally by Reinhard Mey, famous German singer/songwriter. However, the song has become so popular that you can also find other versions of it, even a party version with Latin-American sound to it.
Chuck: You can find a link to online samples of this song at GermanPod101.com. let’s look at the text now.
Judith: Ok, starting with the first stanza. Wind Nordost, Startbahn 03.
Chuck: “North-East wind”… Startbahn?
Judith: It’s “runway”.
Chuck: Ah ok. “03”?
Judith: Yes. Bis hier hör ich die Motoren.
Chuck: “Until here”?
Judith: “Up to here.”
Chuck: Ah ok.
Judith: He’s presumably not standing on the runway.
Chuck: That’s what I was thinking. “Up to here I hear the motors”?
Judith: Wie ein Pfeil zieht sie vorbei.
Chuck: “Like a line”?
Judith: No, “an arrow”.
Chuck: “An arrow”, oh ok.
Judith: Pfeil.
Chuck: Yeah. “Like an arrow, it pulls away”?
Judith: “She, the plane moves past me.”
Chuck: Ah ok.
Judith: Vorbeiziehen. Und es dröhnt in meinen Ohren.
Chuck: “And it drones in my ears.” Or “drones on”.
Judith: Yes. Und der nasse Asphalt bebt.
Chuck: “And the wet asphalt quakes.”
Judith: Yes. Wie ein Schleier staubt der Regen.
Chuck: What’s Schleier?
Judith: Schleier is “a veil” or shroud.
Chuck: Ok. And stauben?
Judith: It’s derived from the word Staub, der Staub, “dust”.
Chuck: “Dust”, ah ok. Like the Staubsauger.
Judith: Yeah, this is a very picturesque way of saying it. Stauben is not normally a verb but you can imagine the rain is like a veil or like dust falling, very thin rain but a lot of it.
Chuck: Ah ok. Like the veil dusts the rain.
Judith: Yeah. Reinhard Mey has a way with pictures. Bis sie abhebt, und sie schwebt. Der Sonne entgegen.
Chuck: What’s abheben?
Judith: Abheben, “take off”.
Chuck: Ok. “Until it takes off and hovers”?
Judith: Yes.
Chuck: “The sun entgegen”?
Judith: “Towards”.
Chuck: Ah, “towards the sun”?
Judith: Yes.
Chuck: Ok.
Judith: Über den Wolken muss die Freiheit wohl grenzenlos sein.
Chuck: “Over the clouds, the…” yeah, “freedom must be without borders”.
Judith: Yes. You’re doing amazingly good in this.
Chuck: Thanks.
Judith: Alle Ängste, alle Sorgen sagt man.
Chuck: “One says all fears and all worries…”
Judith: Blieben darunter verborgen.
Chuck: “Stayed down there”. Verborgen?
Judith: “Hidden”.
Chuck: Ah, “stay hidden down there.”
Judith: Yes, “underneath”, darunter, “underneath the clouds”.
Chuck: Ok. Is he trying to say that flying is like a drug?
Judith: No? No, not like a drug, it’s just that you feel very free up there.
Chuck: Ok.
Judith: He doesn’t say that you’re hallucinating or that you feel good, just that you don’t feel your worries as much.
Chuck: Ok.
Judith: Und dann würde was uns groß und wichtig erscheint plötzlich nichtig und klein.
Chuck: “And then what once seemed large and important now seem small and unimportant.”
Judith: Yes, you remembered nichtig even.
Chuck: Yes, well it kind of makes sense since you are saying groß and klein and wichtig and nichtig.
Judith: Wichtig und nichtig.
Chuck: It’s that too Hochdeutsch for you? Or is that really the wrong way to pronounce it?
Judith: Yeah, it’s wrong.
Chuck: Oh ok.
Judith: I mean it’s a CH there, wichtig. Nichtig.
Chuck: Ok. Fertig.
Judith: That’s a different word. At the end of the word it’s debatable whether you say tig or tich, but in the middle you say wig and that’s wrong. You have to say wich.
Chuck: Ah there, ok.
Judith: Wichtig, “important”. And the second stanza. Ich seh ihr noch lange nach.
Chuck: “I see you”?
Judith: No, ihr. Still talking about “she, the plane”.
Chuck: Oh ok. “I see her so far away”?
Judith: Yes, nachsehen is when something’s moving away and you look after it, you watch it move away. Nachsehen. So that’s what he does with the plane that just took off. Sehe sie die Wolken erklimmen.
Chuck: “See the clouds climbing”?
Judith: No, “see it climbing the clouds”.
Chuck: Ah ok.
Judith: Bis die Lichter nach und nach ganz im Regengrau verschwimmen.
Chuck: Lichter?
Judith: That’s the plural of Licht, “light”.
Chuck: Ah ok. “Until the lights…” nach und nach?
Judith: “By and by”.
Chuck: Ok. “Until the lights go by and by”.
Judith: Ganz im Regengrau verschwimmen. You didn’t look at this part. Verschwimmen. Schwimmen is “to swim” but verschwimmen is like in this swimming motion, disappears like… Well, talking about the lights you can imagine a plane taking off in the middle of rain. And you watch the lights of the plane, and at some point you can’t really distinguish it among the rain or it’s very blurry. That’s verschwimmen.
Chuck: Ok.
Judith: Yeah, he reinforces that. Ganz im Regengrau. “The grey of the rain, disappearing”. Meine Augen haben schon jenen winzgen Punkt verloren.
Chuck: “My eyes have already lost every important point”?
Judith: No, “this”. Winzig is not wichtig.
Chuck: Ah right.
Judith: Wichtig is “important”, winzig is “tiny”.
Chuck: The slang. “Tiny”, ok.
Judith: Yeah, slang because he’s missing the E there, he just says winzgen not winzigen. It’s part of the poet’s license. So can you translate?
Chuck: Yeah. “My eyes have already lost every…”
Judith: No, “this”, jenen.
Chuck: Ah, “this”, yeah. That’s right. “Have already lost this little point.”
Judith: What used to be the aircraft. Nur von Fern klingt monoton das Summen der Motoren.
Chuck: “Only from far away one…” let’s see. “It sounds monotone the sums of motors”?
Judith: Yeah, this engine noise. You can hear it from afar.
Chuck: Oh, the buzzing.
Judith: Yeah, the buzzing of the engines.
Chuck: So summen is different than Summe.
Judith: Yeah, summen is like a bee.
Chuck: Right, right.
Judith: You can hear it from far, in monotone way. And then the chorus again and the last stanza. Dann ist alles still, ich geh.
Chuck: “Then everything’s still, I'm going”.
Judith: Regen durchdringt meine Jacke.
Chuck: “Rain is drenching my jacket”?
Judith: Yes. Durchdringen is “penetrate” or something like that, but “drenching” covers it pretty well in this case.
Chuck: What’s dringen? Dringen is “urgent”, isn’t it?
Judith: No, dringend is “urgent”. Dringen is just the notion of entering.
Chuck: Ok.
Judith: Irgendjemand kocht Kaffee in der Luftaufsichtsbaracke.
Chuck: “Someone’s making coffee in the air tower control room”?
Judith: Yes, that’s what the meaning is. Luftaussicht is the “air control”. And the Baracke, yeah, the barracks that they have for this purpose. In den Pfützen schwimmt Benzin.
Chuck: Pfützen?
Judith: Yeah, it’s “puddle”.
Chuck: Ah, “In the puddle, gasoline is swimming”.
Judith: Schillernd wie ein Regenbogen.
Chuck: Schillernd?
Judith: “Oscillating”.
Chuck: Ah. “Oscillating like a rainbow”.
Judith: Wolken spiegeln sich darin.
Chuck: “The clouds mirror themselves there.”
Judith: “Are reflected” also in these puddles.
Chuck: Yeah, right.
Judith: Ich wär gern mitgeflogen.
Chuck: “I wish I’d gone with”.
Judith: Yeah, “I would’ve liked to fly with…” Yeah. And then the chorus and that’s the song.
Chuck: Alright. What kind of cultural point can you make from this song?
Judith: Well, I was thinking we could talk about aircraft in Germany? Particularly I found that it’s very popular here to fly on a private aircraft or to glide in it as a hobby. There are, for example, most towns, even the little ones, have airfields. Not commercial flights but for private people who want to fly in, like, a small aircraft for one or four people, nothing larger than that.
Chuck: Actually, your small town of Kamp-Lintfort even has a flight club, doesn’t it?
Judith: Yeah, my father’s part of that even and I know a couple of people who do that. And he says there are about several thousand or several ten thousand even in Germany.
Chuck: Oh wow.
Judith: It’s quite a popular hobby.
Chuck: Why do you think it’s so popular here? I don’t think there’s nearly that many in the States, for example.
Judith: I don't know, I mean there’s something as to be said about seeing the world from above. I don't know, something that’s very different than in the States though because in the States they also have this kind of small private hobby aircraft flying and clubs that do that. But in Germany there are particularly many fans of gliding aircraft and that’s really strange. My father was able to tell me about it so I'm just relaying the knowledge to you right now. I think he said in America if you fly a gliding aircraft it’s considered somewhat elitist because that’s very, very strange. People prefer the ones with engines, but here, in Germany, it’s like the most normal way of getting into the flying. For example, you can start flying a glider aircraft when you’re 14 or something. If you want to fly a motorized aircraft you have to be at least 18, just like for cars.
Chuck: Oh wow.
Judith: Cause anything motorized, yeah, you can’t fly really.
Chuck: So you just let the 14 year old kid go up flying with the glider.
Judith: Well, they have to take classes obviously. You can’t do anything without classes, but that’s how a lot of people’s start learning how to fly a gliding aircraft. And then, afterwards, they learn how to fly a motorized one.
Chuck: Alright.
Judith: Germany’s also the world’s main producer of gliding aircraft. And my father taught me something very interesting that the reason for this focus on gliding aircraft - I mean if you look around the world there’s hardly any country that’s so much into gliding aircraft. The reason for this is that in the treaty of Versailles, after the First World War, Germany was not allowed to build any motorized aircraft.
Chuck: Wow. Do you know why?
Judith: Well, I assume it would go along with all these rules about making Germany a less industrialized nation, one that’s unlikely to be able to arm quickly.
Chuck: Ah, I see.
Judith: So people just switched to gliding aircraft. I mean those hobby pilots that couldn’t imagine going without, they just switched to gliding aircraft without engines and those were not prohibited. And by the time that this treaty was overruled, Germany was allowed to have motorized aircraft again, many had already fallen in love with gliding. And apparently Reinhard Mey, the singer of this song is one of them. Or at least he just loves flying.
Chuck: Very nice.
Judith: I think he has a very nice description of the flying experience too.
Chuck: Yeah.
Judith: So shall we look at some grammar?
Chuck: I think I'm going to fly away now if you don’t mind.
Judith: No, no.
Chuck: I think I need to experience this thing for myself that we’re talking about.

Lesson focus

Judith: You can do that after the lesson. So grammar. In this song you can still find some perfect songs if you’d like to review last week’s lesson, but today’s grammar point is the conditional mood. The conditional mood in German is called Konjunktiv, have you heard about it?
Chuck: Yeah.
Judith: Konjunktiv. In English there’s something called subjunctive but it’s different, because in German the Konjunktiv is used like a conditional. For example, anything with “could” or “would” or “might”. Something that will not happen but might happen, that’s where you use the conditional. And in German you have to use the word würde for that.
Chuck: “Would”? “Would be”?
Judith: Yes, würde can be translated as “would”. So the forms of würde are ich würde.
Chuck: I would.
Judith: Du würdest.
Chuck: You would.
Judith: Er würde.
Chuck: He would.
Judith: Wir würden.
Chuck: Do I still need to translate these?
Judith: Yes.
Chuck: Alright. “We would”.
Judith: Ihr würdet.
Chuck: You all would.
Judith: Sie würden.
Chuck: They would.
Judith: And just like in English, it’s used with an infinitive verb or also like the German future tense. For example, the sentence Ich werde ins Schwimmbad gehen is future.
Chuck: I will go to the swimming pool.
Judith: And if you’re not sure if you make it depending on the weather, for example, you could say ich würde ins Schwimmbad gehen.
Chuck: I would go to the swimming pool.
Judith: Same comparison with a different sentence. Er wird dir nicht antworten.
Chuck: He will not reply to you.
Judith: Er würde dir nicht antworten.
Chuck: “He would not reply to you.” So I guess you could remember that when you have a crazy tense like this you have to put a crazy Umlaut after the W, right?
Judith: If it helps. Note that in German, however, the conditional mood can be used on both sides of a conditional statement. So you have something like “I would come along if you moved the meeting”. That would be Ich würde mitkommen wenn du das Treffen verschieben würdest. So in both cases you have würde, and in English you only have one “would”. “I would come along if you moved the meeting.” There’s a special thing though that I want to draw your attention to and that’s that not all verbs use würde. Actually, originally none did but it’s one of the ways in which German becomes easier and easier. Just wait long enough and you won’t have to learn much at all.
Chuck: That sounds good.
Judith: Yeah, well, there are a few verbs that still don’t use würde, especially the most common short verbs. Like in today’s song you only saw one of them and that’s wäre. Can you translate wäref?
Chuck: “Would be”?
Judith: Yes, “would be”. That’s the conditional form of sein, “to be”, and it can be translated as “would be”, yes.
Chuck: Ok. So if we wait like a year then German will get easier.
Judith: I don’t think there’s much movement within a year, but if you want to wait 100 years then it’ll be a lot easier.
Chuck: Ah… So you mean they should keep listening to GermanPod now, I guess.
Judith: Yes, I would recommend it.
Chuck: Ok.
Judith: Already if you learned more colloquial language you’ll have an easier time than if you learn the written language. And that’s also why we’re focusing on the most modern version of German.
Chuck: Hopefully it will still be useful for you 100 years from now.
Judith: It will be.


Chuck: If you need help with this lesson, feel free to post a comment.
Judith: Yes, but first have a look at the PDF, maybe there’s an explanation there. For the Intermediate Lesson…