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Lesson Transcript

Chuck: This is Intermediate Series Lesson 18.
Judith: Willkommen.
Chuck: Welcome to the 18th GermanPod101 Intermediate Lesson.
Judith: Do you remember that we did Tokyo Hotel the other day?
Chuck: Do I have to remember that?
Judith: That was a community suggestion. GermanPod101 has a really great community, and now we’re doing another song that was suggested by the community.
Chuck: I hope it’s not another Tokyo Hotel song.
Judith: No, it’s something completely different. It’s the title Aurelie by Wir sind Helden. I didn’t know this song before it was suggested but it’s really quite good.
Chuck: Alright, then I have to listen to it too. I believe we’ve got a link in the lesson description on GermanPod101.com.
Judith: Yes, as usual. Only legal MP3s from us, though we’re not saying you can’t get the song elsewhere. Gesundheit.
Chuck: Anyway, let’s look at the text now.
Judith: Aurelies Akzent ist ohne Frage sehr charmant.
Chuck: “Aurelie’s accent is without question very charming.”
Judith: Auch wenn sie schweigt, wird sie als wunderbar erkannt.
Chuck: “Also when she…” schweigen? What’s schweigen?
Judith: Schweigen is “to be silent” or “to be mute”.
Chuck: Ah, ok. “Also when she’s silent she’s wonderfully known”?
Judith: “She’s recognized as wonderful.”
Chuck: Ah, ok.
Judith: Sie braucht mit Reizen nicht zu geizen.
Chuck: “She needs with…” is that “rice”?
Judith: No, Reiz, der Reiz, like “an attraction” or yeah.
Chuck: Ok. And geizen I don't know either.
Judith: Geizig as an adjective maybe? It’s more common.
Chuck: No.
Judith: Geizig means “stingy”, “avaricious”, so “She does not need to be stingy with her attractions”. As in she’s very attractive all around. Denn ihr Haar ist Meer und Weizen.
Chuck: “Then her hair is…”
Judith: “Because”.
Chuck: Ah, right.
Judith: Dann, denn, denn, “because”.
Chuck: “Because her hair is sea and wheat.”
Judith: Yes.
Chuck: And wheat?
Judith: Well, her hair is wheat color as in very blonde. And I imagine the sea refers to her eyes. Noch mit Glatze fräß ihr jeder aus der Hand.
Chuck: “Still with…”
Judith: “A bold head”, Glatze, “bold”, “bold head”. It’s a noun. We don’t have it as an adjective, “bold”, we always say Glatze, “bold head”, as one word. And I imagine you can’t understand fräß either. That’s the conditional of fressen so it was “would”, “would eat in an animal way”.
Chuck: Ah, ok. So “Even if she’s bald they’d still eat out of her hand”?
Judith: Yes. Anybody would.
Chuck: Ok.
Judith: Doch Aurelie kapiert das nie.
Chuck: “Still Aurelie doesn’t quite get it” or “never quite gets it”.
Judith: “Never gets it”, “never understands it”. Kapieren is a very colloquial word for “to understand”.
Chuck: That’s why I said “gets it”.
Judith: Yes. Jeden Abend fragt sie sich, wann nur verliebt sich wer in mich.
Chuck: “Every evening she asks herself…” “She asks herself”, I think I'm being German there. “She wonders”, “Every evening she wonders…” It’s a very common German error to say “I ask myself”. So “Every evening she wonders only when someone will fall in love with me.”
Judith: Yes, “when, oh, when” as in… yeah. And then the chorus. Aurelie, so klappt das nie.
Chuck: “Aurelie, it never goes that way.”
Judith: Yeah, or “works”, “works out this way. Du erwartest viel zu viel.
Chuck: “You’re expecting way too much.”
Judith: Die Deutschen flirten sehr subtil.
Chuck: “The Germans flirt very subtlety.”
Judith: Yes. And this is even repeated at this point, chorus is repeated. And then the next stanza. Aurelie, die Männer mögen dich hier sehr.
Chuck: “Aurelie the men like you here very much.”
Judith: Schau, auf der Straße schaut dir jeder hinterher.
Chuck: “Look at the street, everyone looks at you as you go away”?
Judith: Yes, we had it in the other lesson, hinterherschauen, hinterher. Doch du merkst nichts, weil sie nicht pfeifen.
Chuck: “But you don’t notice it because they don’t whistle.”
Judith: Und pfeifst du selbst, die Flucht ergreifen.
Chuck: “And you whistle yourself…” the Flucht?
Judith: You have to insert the sie. Sie ergreifen die Flucht. “If you whistle yourself”, die Flucht ergreifen is “to take flight”.
Chuck: Ok.
Judith: So if you whistle yourself rather than waiting for them to whistle, then they will run away screaming. Du musst wissen, hier ist weniger oft mehr.
Chuck: “You must know that here is less often more.”
Judith: Yeah, “you must know that here less is more”.
Chuck: Ok.
Judith: Or “it’s often more to do less” as in not to be quite so flirty or… Ach Aurelie, in Deutschland braucht die Liebe Zeit.
Chuck: “Ah, Aurelie, in Germany love needs time.”
Judith: Hier ist man nach Tagen erst zum ersten Schritt bereit.
Chuck: “Here is one after days…”?
Judith: Only “after days”, nach Tagen erst.
Chuck: “Ready for the first step.”
Judith: Yes, it takes days. Die nächsten Wochen wird gesprochen.
Chuck: “The next weeks are promised or are already filled”?
Judith: This is something that we’ll look at in the grammar section. It’s a passive sentence that implies the word “people” if you want to write it actively. So it means “in the next few weeks people just talk”, as in the young lovers just talk. And then sich aufs Gründlichste berochen. Berochen derived from beriechen. Riechen we had before…
Chuck: “To smell”?
Judith: Yes.
Chuck: So “They will be smelled from the foundation”?
Judith: “Thoroughly”.
Chuck: “Thoroughly”?
Judith: So this is the thoroughly-est, people just smell each other out, the next few days…
Chuck: Like dogs.
Judith: For the next few days. Yeah. Talking, smelling, not much more. Und erst dann trifft man sich irgendwo zu zweit.
Chuck: “And only then will one meet as a couple.”
Judith: Yes. Irgendwo, “somewhere”. Then the chorus again, Aurelie, so einfach ist das eben nicht.
Chuck: “Aurelie, it’s not so simple.”
Judith: Hier haben andere Worte ein ganz anderes Gewicht.
Chuck: “Here other words have a completely different weight.”
Judith: All die Jungs zu deinen Füßen, wollen sie küssen, auch die süßen.
Chuck: “All the boys, to your feet, want to kiss also the sweet”?
Judith: “All the boys at your feet, want to kiss them”, sie, die Füße, also the sweet ones, the cute ones - you would say in English - the cute boys. We call them die süßen.
Chuck: Ok.
Judith: Aber du merkst das nicht, weil er dabei von Fußball spricht.
Chuck: “But you don’t notice that because he’s speaking soccer with you.”
Judith: Ach Aurelie, du sagst, ich solle dir erklären.
Chuck: “Ah, Aurelie, you say I need to explain that to you”.
Judith: Or “I should explain that to you”. Sollen, yes. Wie in aller Welt sich die Deutschen dann vermehren.
Chuck: “How in the whole world the Germans then…” vermehren?
Judith: “To multiply”?
Chuck: Ah, “multiply”. Ok.
Judith: Wie in aller Welt. It’s an exasperated kind of expression like “how in the world, however do they?”
Chuck: Ok.
Judith: Wenn die Blumen und die Bienen in Berlin nichts tun als grienen.
Chuck: “If the flowers and the bees”?
Judith: “The bees and the flowers”.
Chuck: Ah, ok. This is sort of a way to say “the birds and the bees”? Ok. “In Berlin are not done as…”
Judith: “Don’t do anything except…” Nichts tun als. “Don’t do anything except…” Grienen, this would be hard, grienen is like… “to grin” in a way.
Chuck: Well, “grin”, no?
Judith: Well, that would normally it would be grinsen, but grienen is like with a very open mouth.
Chuck: Isn’t grinsen more of an evil grin?
Judith: A forced laugh. No, grinsen is normal grin.
Chuck: Ok.
Judith: Und sich nen Teufel um die Bestäubungsfrage scheren. That’s an expression. You’ll have a hard time with it. Did you hear it before?
Chuck: No. Usually when I see Teufel in a sentence it means there’s an expression behind it.
Judith: Yes. Sich nen Teufel um etwas scheren is to not care in the least about something.
Chuck: And what’s Bestäubungsfrage?
Judith: Well, Frage is question, Bestäubung is pollination. So can you translate the whole? Und sich nen Teufel um die Bestäubungsfrage scheren.
Chuck: “I don’t care at all about the…” “They don’t give a darn about the pollination question.”
Judith: Yeah, or “the matter of pollination”.
Chuck: Or “issue”.
Judith: Yeah.
Chuck: “Pollination issue”.
Judith: And then we have the chorus again and that’s the song.
Chuck: So is “issue” usually translated as Frage in German?
Judith: Yes, or matter of something and you will usually have Frage, yes.
Chuck: Ok, so it’s like French.
Judith: Ok. So how much did you notice of that yourself? Well, it’s obvious the men don’t whistle off to people in Germany. That’s something that we associate with Italy, I'm not even sure they do it in France.
Chuck: Yeah, I'm not sure but I think about it.
Judith: How about we focus on making new friends in Germany?
Chuck: Ok. I do know it tends to be… in Germany is that it’s harder to make friends but they tend to be deeper when you have them. When I lived in New York I seemed to have a ton of acquaintances but I didn’t have very many, like, really deep friend. Whereas here I tend to just have a few closer, deep friends and not that many acquaintances.
Judith: Yeah. Yeah, it fits with what I’ve heard from others. Of course I can hardly compare because I never spend a lot of time outside Germany. The longest was six weeks in China and that was a whole different matter.
Chuck: Yeah.
Judith: Well, here… What would you suggest, for example, for an American who moved to Germany and who wants to meet new people as in especially non-Americans.
Chuck: one thing is to find an easy place to meet, like a club, conference, fair, things like that.
Judith: I would also recommend crowded cafes. It’s where I get to start talking to a lot of people because in such crowded place you have to sit at somebody else’s table or somebody else might join your table. And then you have a certain amount of time together, you have like at least 20 minutes where you eat together and you can talk a little.
Chuck: So then you’d want to ask Ist hier noch frei, right?
Judith: Yes, as we taught in the newbie lesson. It’s a key expression - is this table still free or rather the seat and you can hardly ever say no to that so…
Chuck: Yeah. One of the things I had the most trouble with is that… do you remember that it takes time to switch to du for some people, especially if they’re not like college students.
Judith: Yes, you have to be careful with that because some people really insist on it. I know my father has some friends that still call each other Sie. For them it’s a way of expressing respect, it really depends on the generation how much or how quickly they switch to du. And, of course, you can’t initiate that. You have to wait for the older or the socially superior person to suggest that.
Chuck: Yes, but also interesting that some people who are in, say, the web industry have taken a lot of American traits so they feel themselves more informal but still… Yeah, I remember I was at a tech talk a week ago and I wasn’t really thinking, and I saw someone that was on quite… well, he was about my age so around 30. So I just sort of introduced myself with something like an American Wie gehts? which doesn’t really work. He’s like Wir kennen uns nicht, oder? As if to say like “We don’t know each other, do we? It’s a bit too forward here.”
Judith: Yeah, yeah. No, definitely take the usual steps and then if people who are as fed up with them as you are, then they will let you know quickly.
Chuck: Yeah. So then you switch to English, everything’s ok.
Judith: Please, try to speak to them in German.
Chuck: I'm just kidding. Of course, of course I would never have switched to English because I'm feeling lazy. All German, all the time.
Judith: For the beginning if you want to get to know somebody, you can meet in larger groups or in public places, for example restaurants. Or you can do outings together, you can go to a museum or a concert or swimming pool even, something like that, and what you should definitely do is avoid questions related to money, age or religion. You just don’t ask people about that. Like, I’ve seen people from America ask me, “Ok, so how much do you make per year?” And it’s just not done in Germany. Or similar, people from Egypt, “Ok, so how old are you? And how old is your mother? And…” I'm sorry, it’s…
Chuck: Yeah. And you may notice that questions related to politics may come up, and I’d say that if you were to travel around Germany now and someone finds out you’re American it’s like, “Oh, what do you think about the new president elect?” So apparently I'm dating our podcast here with that comment.
Judith: Well, it will still come up. I mean it’s the same thing, it doesn’t change suddenly. People were probably asking you about Bush while he was in office and they will be asking you about Obama when he’s in office.
Chuck: Yeah.
Judith: It’s just a matter of one of the topics that you can talk about.
Chuck: Yeah. And it’s certainly something that the American will know something about and probably have an opinion.
Judith: Or you can talk about German politics as well. You don’t have to be too afraid of offending people because basically everybody in Germany thinks that the politicians are all crooks and it’s just a matter of choosing the one who’s least crook or most likely to do something for you.
Chuck: So the thing you might offend them by saying nice things about them, no?

Lesson focus

Judith: No, not offend them, no. Ok, let’s talk about some grammar. For today I’ve chosen the passive voice because it appears rather often in this song, even in two vital phrases that you can’t understand otherwise. The passive is a kind of verb form that’s useful when you don‘t know who did something or maybe you don’t want to say because it’s irrelevant or for whatever other reason. For example, if you read a review of a book it might say Maria is killed in the fourth chapter of the book. And this is because the reviewer doesn’t want to say who she was killed by or maybe it’s still not known or something like that. So we use the form “is killed” rather than saying, “Ok, Martin killed Maria.” “Maria is killed” – this is passive.
Chuck: I think it was the butcher.
Judith: There’s a German singer who made a song called “The murderer is always the gardener”. That’s beside the point, I don’t think we’ll even get around to doing this song in this series.
Chuck: Oh, next series.
Judith: Maybe. And you will also hear a lot of passive sentence when sightseeing. For example, you may hear “The Brandenburg gate was completed in 1791.”
Chuck: Wait a minute… You forgot the names of the architects didn’t you? Come on, who are they?
Judith: Sorry, I don't know. So, you see, this is also really useful when you’re giving your friends an informal guided tours for your city and you don’t remember all the facts about something, you can use the passive.
Chuck: Are you implying that Americans don’t know much about geography?
Judith: Geography? History!
Chuck: Same difference.
Judith: In German… Don’t joke so much about Americans. I think some listeners are not comfortable with that even though you are American, I know. In German…
Chuck: Ok, maybe me. When I say American, I only mean me when I say disparaging remarks.
Judith: Ok, that works. In German, the passive is formed using the verb werden, which normally means “to become”. So since there’s a passive voice equivalent for all tenses, the rule is to form whatever tense you need with the verb werden and then you add the past participle of the verb that you actually meant to use. For example, if you’re meaning to use the Perfekt you would say something equivalent to “I have become” and then you add the real verb that you meant. Ok, so let’s have some examples of the passive voice in different tenses. And if you have the PDF you can also compare these to the equivalent active sentences.
Chuck: Hey, Judith, can we have some examples in different tenses?
Judith: Yes, I want to provide those.
Chuck: Ok.
Judith: Das Museum wird eröffnet.
Chuck: The museum is being opened.
Judith: So literally this means “The museum becomes opened”. And das Museum wird eröffnet werden - future tense.
Chuck: The museum will be opened.
Judith: Das Museum wurde eröffnet.
Chuck: The museum was opened.
Judith: Rather “became opened” in German. Das Museum ist eröffnet worden - perfect tense.
Chuck: The museum has been opened.
Judith: Das Museum war eröffnet worden.
Chuck: The museum had been opened.
Judith: Past perfect.
Chuck: I definitely recommend checking out the PDF for those cause it can be quite hard to follow, I think, just the audio.
Judith: Yeah, well… If you know the forms of the verb werden already, you will recognize them and, you see, we just added the participle. But if you don’t know this verb yet, then it can be a bit confusing. Anyway, it will be useful. Now, in the song we also had the passive forms es wird gesprochen and es wird sich berochen, which you can’t really translate like that in English, I mean Chuck tried. You’d have to say es wird gesprochen, “it is talked”. It just doesn’t sound right. It means people talk or lovers talk or whoever you’re just meaning, and in German we use the passive voice to avoid specifying who is talking or to imply that everybody just does it like this, everybody talks first before getting to know each other in other ways.
Chuck: So now we hope that you’ve understood the passive voice better. The ideal thing to do next is go to GermanPod101 and practice the passive, either with our exercises or also by trying out passive sentences.