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Lesson Transcript

Chuck: This is Intermediate Series Lesson 20.
Judith: Willkommen zurück.
Chuck: Welcome back. This is the 20th lesson of GermanPod101’s Intermediate Series. In this series you’re learning more advanced grammar and more advanced vocabulary and expressions so that you can express yourself better in German.
Judith: To make it more interesting, we’re taking this vocabulary and grammar from the lyrics of well-known German songs. This way you’re learning something about German culture as well.
Chuck: But of course we still have a cultural section every lesson.
Judith: Today the cultural section would be about old people in Germany.
Chuck: Seems like there’s been more and more older people lately so you better not miss this.
Judith: That’s right.
Chuck: So what’s today’s song?
Judith: Wenn sie diesen Tango hört by Pur.
Chuck: So that’s “When you hear this tango”?
Judith: “When she hears this tango, when he listens to this tango.” You can find a link to the song in the lesson’s description and you can listen to it.
Chuck: So if it was “When you’re hearing this tango” it would be wenn Sie diesen Tango hören, right?
Judith: Yes, that’s the formal you.
Chuck: Ah ok. That’s why I messed up. Alright, so great. Let’s go through the song.
Judith: Sie sitzt auf ihrem alten Sofa aus der Wirtschaftswunderzeit.
Chuck: “She’s sitting on her old sofa from the economic wonder time.”
Judith: Yeah, is that what you’re call it in English? Wirtschaftswunder?
Chuck: I don’t think so.
Judith: It’s when the German economy was recovering at a miracle speed and was really growing and beating everybody, especially the export.
Chuck: Sounds like a good time.
Judith: Yeah, “economy miracle” we call it.
Chuck: Ok.
Judith: Zwei Glückwunschkarten auf dem Tisch.
Chuck: “Two congratulations cards on the table”?
Judith: Dallas ist längst vorbei.
Chuck: “Dallas is a long way away” or “a long way…”
Judith: Over.
Chuck: Over.
Judith: As in the TV series, “Dallas”.
Chuck: Ok.
Judith: Has been over for a while now. She was probably watching that. Alles Gute zum 61., liebe Omi, tschüs, bis bald.
Chuck: So “Happy birthday to your 61st year”?
Judith: “Happy 61st birthday.”
Chuck: “Dear grandma, bye, see you soon.”
Judith: Alles Gute is a German wish, it does not translate immediately to “happy birthday”, otherwise we would say Herzlichen Glückwunsch zum Geburtstag. Alles Gute is more like “all the best”. You can say it for other occasions too like for a wedding or something.
Chuck: Yeah, I mostly know it from Alles Gute zum Geburtstag which is a common way of saying “happy birthday”.
Judith: Yeah.
Chuck: It’s a way to annoy people when they’re learning German, right? “What’s happy birthday?” Alles Gute zum Geburtstag. “What? Everything’s so long in German.”
Judith: Die Kinder sind jetzt groß und außer Haus.
Chuck: “The kids are now grown up and out of the house.”
Judith: Die Wohnung ist oft kalt.
Chuck: “The apartment is often cold.”
Judith: Irgendwas hat sie immer zu tun.
Chuck: “Somehow she always had something to do”?
Judith: Yeah. Here we have the object at the beginning of the sentence. In German you can do it, in English it sounds weird. “Something she always has to do.”
Chuck: Actually, “something has she always to do.”
Judith: Yes, well, that’s because of German inversion. But it’s like “she always find something to do”. Sie teilt sich die Hausarbeit ein.
Chuck: “She shares the…” wait. “She divides the housework”?
Judith: Yes, Hausarbeit is “housework” or it can also be a written thing that you have to do at home, for school. Hausarbeit.
Chuck: You don’t say Heimarbeit, right?
Judith: No, Hausarbeit. Hausarbeit but more likely Hausaufgaben, that would be “homework”, Hausaufgaben.
Chuck: “House tasks.”
Judith: Yes. Hausarbeit would be something like an essay that you have to write.
Chuck: Ok.
Judith: Sie teilt sich die Hausarbeit ein. “She divides the housework that is left there to do so she always has something to do.” Und jeden Abend schaltet sie ab und das Fernsehen ein.
Chuck: “And every evening she turns herself off and turns the TV on.”
Judith: Yes, do you understand this schaltet ab? Abschalten. Literally “to switch off”, “to turn off”, as you said, but in this sense it’s more like “she stops thinking, stops doing anything, just leans back and consumes television.”
Chuck: powering down... I don't know. It’s obvious what it means.
Judith: It’s a very figurative thing in German too. Und das Fernsehen ein. Both the ab and the ein refer to the schalten, so...
Chuck: Right.
Judith: “Switches on the television”.
Chuck: Wow, so she finally picked a lesson that I could, like, translate easily.
Judith: Let’s see. Das war nicht immer so. Erst, seit sie allein ist.
Chuck: “It was not always like that, just since she was alone” or “since she’s been alone”.
Judith: Yes. Seit, “since”.
Chuck: Yeah.
Judith: Seit ihr Mann starb, den sie mit feuchten Augen vermisst.
Chuck: “Since her husband died…”
Judith: “Whom”, den is “whom”.
Chuck: Ah, “Whom she’s missed with fiery eyes.”
Judith: Not “fiery”, that would be feurig. Here we have feucht. Feucht is “wet”.
Chuck: “Wet”. Ok. I thought there was another word for “wet”.
Judith: You’re thinking of schwül…
Chuck: Nass?
Judith: No, nass is like really wet. Feucht is just barely wet like with dew.
Chuck: And schwul is…?
Judith: Schwül is “humid”?
Chuck: Is that with the Umlaut?
Judith: Yes.
Chuck: Ok. It’s kind of important to remember. Otherwise she’d be kind of gay.
Judith: Well, she’s missing her husband, with wet eyes as in always…
Chuck: Yeah.
Judith: Likely to break out in tears.
Chuck: Ok.
Judith: Sie hat so gern getanzt mit ihm.
Chuck: “She liked so much to dance with him.”
Judith: Und manchmal, wenn es zu sehr weh tut, legt sie ihre alte Lieblingsplatte auf.
Chuck: “And sometimes when it hurts her too much, she puts on her old records.”
Judith: “Her old favorite record”, it’s just one, Lieblingsplatte. Lieblings anything is favorite. For example, Lieblingsessen “your favorite food”, Lieblingsmusik “your favorite music”, Lieblingsplatte, Platte is, well, literally “a disk” but in this case it would be a vinyl.
Chuck: What would be plural then?
Judith: Platten.
Chuck: Ah Platten, ok.
Judith: Die Platte, die Platten.
Chuck: Right.
Judith: Lieblingsplatte, “the favorite”, “favorite disk”, “favorite vinyl”.
Chuck: Ah yeah, like Festplatte for “hard drive”.
Judith: Yes.
Chuck: Festplatten. Yeah, ok.
Judith: So, “When it hurts too much she puts on her old favorite record, favorite…” yeah, “favorite record”. Und tanzt ganz für sich.
Chuck: “And danced…”
Judith: “Dances”.
Chuck: Yeah, “And dances just completely for herself”.
Judith: Yes.
Chuck: Or “just for herself” I guess you’d say.
Judith: Yes. And the chorus. Wenn sie diesen Tango hört.
Chuck: “When she heard this tango.”
Judith: “When she hears…”
Chuck: Ah.
Judith: Careful not to confuse your tenses.
Chuck: Ok.
Judith: Since you say you can translate this well.
Chuck: What would be the past tense then?
Judith: Als sie diesen Tango hörte. You have to use als there because it’s past. Wenn is like “always when”.
Chuck: Ah ok, got you.
Judith: And hörte, the te is for past.
Chuck: Like hatte.
Judith: Or als sie diesen Tango gehört hat. Perfect.
Chuck: Yeah, that one I recognize.
Judith: Wenn sie diesen Tango hört, vergisst sie die Zeit.
Chuck: “She forgets the time.”
Judith: Wie sie jetzt lebt, ist weit, weit entfernt, wie ein längst verglühter Stern.
Chuck: “Like the way she lives is far, so far away, like long faraway star”?
Judith: Verglüht. It is hard to translate. I haven’t found a good…
Chuck: Is that a shooting star?
Judith: No, verglühter Stern, in this context I think you’d say “a died down star” but verglühen is to… well, “to be destroyed by hot white heat”.
Chuck: Like melted?
Judith: Like glühen is “to glow” and verglühen would be “to…” Yeah…
Chuck: where Glühwein comes from?
Judith: Yes.
Chuck: Oh, ok.
Judith: “Glowing wine” literally, it is mulled wine.
Chuck: It’s also really yummy.
Judith: So glühen is “to glow” like especially glühend heiß, like “white hot” and verglühen is, yeah, “to…” If you do that a long, long time then eventually you have nothing left. And that’s what happens to the stars, it’s a very accurate description in German. In English it doesn’t quite work. So, anyway, “a star that has long since died down”, that’s how far her current life is to her then. Aus der Heimat verjagt und vertrieben.
Chuck: “Her hometown hunted and treated”? No…
Judith: “And chased away and expelled.” Jagen is “to hunt”, verjagen is “to chase away”.
Chuck: I thought vertrieben was “to service”.
Judith: No. Vertreiben.
Chuck: Oh.
Judith: Vertrieb is like “sending out of goods”, like logistics. Vertreiben as a verb is “to expel”. And it’s not her hometown, it’s her home area, Heimat. Aus der Heimat verjagt und vertrieben nach Hitlers großem Krieg.
Chuck: “After Hitler’s big war.”
Judith: Sie hat kräftig mitbezahlt für den deutschen Traum vom Sieg.
Chuck: “She had also paid her way heavily for the German dream for victory.”
Judith: Yes. She… well, it says kräftig as in “strongly” but it just means “she paid a lot”. I'm guessing she must be one of the people in Eastern Europe.
Chuck: Yeah.
Judith: In the former German areas. Dann der lange, harte Wiederaufbau für ein kleines Stückchen Glück.
Chuck: “Then the long, hard rebuilding for a little piece of happiness.”
Judith: Yes. Wiederaufbau. Der Aufbau is “construction” and Wiederaufbau, “reconstruction”. Das lang ersehnte Eigenheim und Kinder für die Republik.
Chuck: “The long ersehnte Eigenheim”?
Judith: Ersehnen, sehnen “longing”, Sehnsucht, “the longing”.
Chuck: Eigenheim.
Judith: “Longed for”. And Eigenheim is, well, Heim is “home”, Eigenheim is a privately owned home, one that you don’t rent, one that you have paid for.
Chuck: Ok.
Judith: Das lang ersehnte Eigenheim und Kinder für die Republik.
Chuck: “And kids for the republic”.
Judith: Yes. Die sollten es später besser haben.
Chuck: “She…”
Judith: No, die, referring to the kids.
Chuck: “They should later have better.”
Judith: Yes, can you say it like that in English.
Chuck: “They should have better later, they should…”
Judith: “They should have a better life.”
Chuck: “They should be better off later.”
Judith: “Yeah, they should be better off”, like that. But in German you say sie sollten es besser haben. Deshalb packte sie fleißig mit an.
Chuck: “That’s why she packed…” fleißig, what?
Judith: Anpacken. Anpacken, mit anpacken is “to work”, “to get involved”, as in don’t just stand there pack an.
Chuck: Do something.
Judith: Yeah, so she continued to do a lot, she worked a lot, even, well, in the sense that she could’ve also chosen not to. So blieb ihr oft zu wenig Zeit für sich und ihren Mann.
Chuck: “So it often left her very little time for her and her husband.”
Judith: Ein ganzes Leben lang zusammen gelitten, geschuftet, gespart.
Chuck: “A whole life long together…” gelitten?
Judith: Leiden. Leiden is the original.
Chuck: Suffered?
Judith: Yeah, “suffered”.
Chuck: Geschuftet?
Judith: Schuften is colloquial for “to work”, “to toil” or something. It’s one of the other words you can use.
Chuck: Ok. “And saved”?
Judith: “Saved up money.”
Chuck: Yeah.
Judith: Jetzt wär doch endlich Zeit für mehr.
Chuck: “Now would be finally time for more.”
Judith: Jetzt ist er nicht mehr da.
Chuck: “Now he’s no longer there.”
Judith: Yeah. So it’s like all the time, she’s been working, she’s been moving the country forward, working for her children, and now that they’re both retired, he’s already dead and can’t enjoy it.
Judith: Sie hat so gern getanzt mit ihm, this is a repetition. Und manchmal, wenn es zu sehr weh tut, legt sie ihre alte Lieblingsplatte auf und tanzt, ganz für sich. And then the chorus and that’s the song.
Chuck: Ok. Well, I don’t want to get the impression that all older people in Germany are sad.
Judith: No, I would hope not. But I could see how a modern society would leave them alone sometimes… it’s just, or something, don’t have time to visit as often or don’t want to because video games, whatever. Of course this song is not quite recent. It’s actually… Actually it was first sung in 1989, that’s also why the woman in the song is only 60 and has seen the war or at least the persecution after the war. And today people that are 60 have probably not seen it. So let’s talk a bit about the older German generation. The thing is that they’re more of them because in Germany there’s very low birth rate - I think it’s one of the worst in the whole world, not quite as bad as Denmark but there are few countries that are worse. And, in contrast, the life expectancy is always rising. Like people who are born now can expect to live long, those born in five years will be expecting to live even longer, and this means that there’s more and more old people. The percentage is always rising in Germany, and the estimate is that by 2030 there will be more people who are more than 60 years old than there are people that are younger.
Chuck: Wow…
Judith: So you can imagine. I mean the majority of people above 60 would be retired, you can imagine that’s going to be more retired people than there are children and working adults together. It’s going to be a big problem for the social system.
Chuck: Yeah.
Judith: Cause in Germany the social system, after the war, there were a lot of people that needed pension or that needed disability pension, so the thing is they said, “Ok, the people who work today are going to pay the pension for the ones that already need it today, that need their pension today”. So this is the system in Germany. If you work today, you earn the pensions for those who need it today. By the time that you’re retired, it will be the new people working who will pay your pension. And it’s a problem if there are more and more old people, like the baby boomer generation, and they’re less people in working age, it’s a real problem. And already the government is struggling to pay the pensions for those who can no longer work, and they’re subsidizing, the income is not enough. Also, older people need more care, like healthcare, and this is also paid by the social system in Germany. I think it’s similar in the States but not quite as bad because you don’t have as much of a social system and you probably also have a slightly different pension system. Also the USA is struggling with having so many old people compared to relatively few working-age people.
Chuck: Yeah, except there I think they tend to just sort of leave them with even lower income than what they really need to live and then they just try to make it.
Judith: They become greeters as Walmart or something.
Chuck: I’m just really surprised how many older Americans still have to work even when they should be… I don't know, 70 years old and they’re working.
Judith: Yes. It’s definitely worrisome and this is not a German-only problem. Also, there will be, because of the healthcare issues, there’s currently a big demand for low-income nurses or personal for old people’s homes. I know my grandma is in a home and every time we go there it seems like there’s less people around or less people who can do the tasks cause they’re also struggling to… I don't know. And there’s always fewer people who are ready to take up that profession, who want to become a nurse, who want to become somebody to work at old people’s homes. Germany has the advantage that we have the compulsory military service yet still and the thing - it works that you don’t have to absolutely do military service, you can do civil service instead. So the people who chose to do civil service would probably be employed around old people’s homes, around disabled people’s homes and help them, like pushing wheelchairs or doing the tasks that professional nurses don’t necessarily need to do. And this is one way that the system is currently surviving, and this need for the people coming in through civil service to do the one year of service to the country. This means that Germany can’t switch to a professional army, because if you don’t absolutely have to go to the military then there’s not people saying, “Ok, I'm not going to the military, no way. I want to do civil service instead.”
Chuck: It’s interesting how they also encourage people to go to the army by saying, “You have to do less time in the army than time you have to do civil service”.
Judith: This is actually unconstitutional, I believe. constitution it shouldn’t happen, but otherwise they wouldn’t find people to go to the army. It just has a very bad reputation.
Chuck: Interesting how… I think the military tends to be more respected in the States.
Judith: Oh, definitely.
Chuck: Yeah.
Judith: I mean here it lost its reputation after the Second World War and it never gained it back.
Chuck: Yeah, I could see that.
Judith: And there’s no songs like about the honor of being a soldier and dying for your country or something. I think those songs were also dropped after the second world war.
Chuck: Also makes sense.
Judith: Yeah, so right now it’s a problem. I mean if you do civil service you don’t necessarily go to an elderly people’s home. For example, my brother did the civil service at youth hostel but it was still hard work. Dealing with all these youth and cooking food for 60 people…
Chuck: How’s youth hostel civil service?
Judith: Well, they need people, they need people cheap and… I don’t quite know how it works. I think it’s like a political and youth hostel or something.
Chuck: Ah ok, like that. Alright.
Judith: There’re a couple of options but usually the options are not so nice. It’s basically civil service people do the dirty work, take out the garbage and…
Chuck: Ok.
Judith: You also get a little bit of pay just like if you go to the compulsory military service, you also get paid but it’s not much.
Chuck: Kind of like going to jury duty – you go and you don’t really get paid much.
Judith: Yeah. The main advantage would be that you can do educational programs and the government will pay like 80 percent of your education during this time if you do some kind of schooling or language courses.
Chuck: Ok.
Judith: So if you’re currently doing that and you’re listening to GermanPod101 or one of the sister sites, you can actually write to us and we’ll send you one of those forms that makes the government pay for your subscription.
Chuck: how any German would need to listen to GermanPod.
Judith: There are a couple. I was surprised myself, but for example Germans might be listening to JapanesePod and…
Chuck: Oh right, if you know a German listening to JapanesePod then…
Judith: That works too. Or if you want to get it for one of your friends.
Chuck: Oh yeah.
Judith: So anyway the government wants people to save up for private pension to help the system because eventually we will have to switch a system of private pensions. And it’s just too hard to do while you’re already paying the pensions of the people who are currently retired. And there’s definitely need for reform and people have started, even Gerhard Schröder was starting on that big reform but getting quite unpopular for that too.
Chuck: This is all sounding pretty depressing actually. Maybe we can get on something more exciting like grammar?
Judith: That’s not going to be exciting but I'm glad you’re suggesting grammar today.

Lesson focus

Chuck: Happy grammar.
Judith: Ok, today we’ll look at participle constructions. This is why I did not discuss the song early, even though it seems to be so easy to you, Chuck, it’s because it has some advanced constructions in there that I want to cover now only.
Chuck: Oh no.
Judith: We’ve already seen the past participle for the perfect tense, but it can also be used as an adjective or as a sentence part. Adjective use is probably the easiest, for example, in the song - ein längst verglühter Stern, “a long since died down star”. So this verglühter is an adjective but it’s based on the verb verglühen, it’s a participle. And this is a very long construction, especially if you translate to English, but Germans just love these long adjective constructions and you’ll have to get used to them especially if you’re planning to read German literature. And in English you may see a relative clause there, like “a star that has long since then died down”, “a star that” or “which”. Relative clause. Another example from the song is das ersehnte Eigenheim, actually they say das lang ersehnte Eigenheim but das ersehnte Eigenheim. Can you translate?
Chuck: “The longed for home” or “The long longed for home”?
Judith: Yes. It doesn’t sound right with the “lang” but in German lang ersehnte is perfectly nice to say. Das ersehnte Eigenheim, yes. Das ersehnte, you see half the adjective ending in there, but other than that it’s a participle just like ich habe ersehnt so it’s just the same participle. Now let’s look at the sentence part usage. For example, in the song we have the line aus der Heimat verjagt und vertrieben and then the main clause starts. Can you translate?
Chuck: “From home banished and chased away”?
Judith: Yes. This would be followed by the main clause. And the main clause says something about her, the elderly woman that the song is about. So actually this means after she, the woman, had been banished and chased away from home, except English shares this construction with German so in English you can actually make the same thing – “banished and chased away”. You’re also using the participles there as a sentence part. And you can use this, but in other languages it’s not possible. You could also say this as “after she had been banished and chased away in English” too. And in German it’s just verjagt und vertrieben. And the same construction can be found in ein ganzes Leben lang zusammen gelitten, geschuftet, gespart. Again, we don’t say sie haben ein ganzes Leben lang zusammen gelitten or something. It’s not a complete sentence. Just a sentence part with a participle. Does it make sense more or less?


Chuck: Yeah. If you want to see this again in writing maybe, then review the examples and explanations in the PDF. There you’ll also find a whole lot of vocabulary extracted from the song.