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Lesson Transcript

Chuck: This is Intermediate Series Lesson 22.
Judith: Willkommen zurück! This is the last GermanPod101 Intermediate Lesson.
Chuck: The last?
Judith: Well, before the holidays that is. GermanPod101 is taking a break from Christmas till after New Year’s. It comes with working in Germany.
Chuck: Don’t you wish your German was good enough to work for a German company now?
Judith: Just keep listening to GermanPod101 and it soon will be. Also, whenever you’re done listening to a lesson, you can go to the Learning Center and cement your newly acquired knowledge by doing various exercises. There are summaries of what you learned in each lesson, multiple choice questions to test your understanding, and in-built vocabulary training…
Chuck: Well, you know over the holidays you could probably find time to look at all the extra materials we have on the site and to listen to any podcasts you may have missed. So, anyway, Judith, what’s today’s song?
Judith: Today’s song is Ich weiß nicht, was soll es bedeuten, the Loreley song. It’s a traditional German song and the words come from Heinrich Heine’s most famous poem. You absolutely have to know this one.
Chuck: Well, if you insist, let’s learn it.
Judith: Alright. Ich weiß nicht, was soll es bedeuten, dass ich so traurig bin.
Chuck: “I don’t know what it should mean for me to be so sad.”
Judith: Ein Märchen aus uralten Zeiten, das kommt mir nicht aus dem Sinn.
Chuck: “A march from…”
Judith: No, not “a march”. Märchen, “fairytale”, das Märchen.
Chuck: “A fairytale”. Ok. “A fairytale from ancient times that doesn’t have any sense to me”?
Judith: No, “that doesn’t leave my mind”. It stays in my mind, stays in my head all the time.
Chuck: Alright.
Judith: Die Luft ist kühl und es dunkelt.
Chuck: “The air is cool and it darkens.”
Judith: As in it’s getting evening. Und ruhig fließt der Rhein.
Chuck: “And the Rhine flows peacefully.”
Judith: Yes. Der Gipfel des Berges funkelt im Abendsonnenschein.
Chuck: Gipfel?
Judith: Gipfel. The summit. “the highest point of a mountain”.
Chuck: Ok, “the highest point of the mountain” funkelt?
Judith: It’s like glitters, like glints.
Chuck: “Glitters in the evening sunshine.”
Judith: Yes. Die schönste Jungfrau sitzet dort oben wunderbar.
Chuck: “The most beautiful virgin”?
Judith: Yeah, or “maid”. In old times it was just a maid.
Chuck: I see.
Judith: Or now it’s also a virgin or the star sign, virgo.
Chuck: Ok. “Sat and…”
Judith: “Is sitting”, it’s an old form.
Chuck: “Is sitting there wonderfully.”
Judith: Yes. Ihr goldenes Geschmeide blitzet, sie kämmt ihr goldenes Haar.
Chuck: “Her gold smith”?
Judith: No. Geschmeide is not Schmied, it’s Geschmeide. “Jewelry” or “jewels”.
Chuck: Ah ok.
Judith: Das Geschmeide, it’s also an old word. You wouldn’t know it.
Chuck: Well, I guess I know it now.
Judith: Ihr goldenes Geschmeide blitzet.
Chuck: “Her gold jewelry glittered”?
Judith: Yes, or “is glittering”. Keep in mind this is present tense.
Chuck: Ah right.
Judith: Sie kämmt ihr goldenes Haar.
Chuck: “She combed her golden hair”.
Judith: “Combs”. Present tense all of it. Sie kämmt es mit goldenem Kamme und singt ein Lied dabei.
Chuck: “She combed with a golden comb and sang a song…”
Judith: “Sings”.
Chuck: Ah, yes, it’s not sang, it’s… wait.
Judith: It’s all present tense, the entire song is present tense.
Chuck: Ah, that makes it easy. people don’t know that I didn’t learn the tenses. Ok. “And sang a song on the side”.
Judith: “Sings”.
Chuck: “Sings”.
Judith: “She’s combing and she’s singing”.
Chuck: Ok.
Judith: Das hat eine wundersame, gewaltige Melodei. Actually Melodei should be Melodie here, but this is poetic.
Chuck: Ok. So “That had a wonderful violent”?
Judith: No, not gewalttätig. Gewaltig. A very momentous, a very big, amazing, powerful..
Chuck: So “it had a wonderful, amazing Melodei”.
Judith: “Melody”.
Chuck: Close enough. I was being poetic. Give me credit.
Judith: Den Schiffer im kleinen Schiffe ergreift es mit wildem Weh.
Chuck: “The sailors in small ships”?
Judith: One, one sailor.
Chuck: Oh, “The sailor in the small ships.”

Lesson focus

Judith: In a small ship. We’ll get to this in the grammar section. It looks like a plural but it isn’t.
Chuck: That’s evil. Ok. You always pick these evil songs for me.
Judith: Ergreifen.
Chuck: “Attacked”? That’s angreifen..
Judith: No, “grips”.
Chuck: “Grips”, ok.
Judith: Ergreifen, “to grip”.
Chuck: “Grips with a wild pain”?
Judith: Yeah, or “woe” also Weh, woe.
Chuck: Ok.
Judith: Er schaut nicht die Felsenriffe.
Chuck: “That’s felt ripples”? Felsen.
Judith: Felsen, “rock”. Der Felsen.
Chuck: Rock.
Judith: And Riff is like a reef. In this case they mean these parts of rock that stick out in the river or that you might not even see stick out but that are there, underwater. They’re very dangerous. And the ship or the boatmen does not see these.
Chuck: Ok.
Judith: Er schaut nur hinauf in die Höh’ and this should be Höhe because there is an apostrophe at the end.
Chuck: Ok, so “He doesn’t see the jagged rocks, he only looks in the air”?
Judith: Yeah, “he looks up”.
Chuck: Ah ok.
Judith: To this maid there.
Chuck: Ok.
Judith: Ich glaube die Wellen verschlingen am Ende Schiffer und Kahn.
Chuck: “I believe the waves…” verschlingen?
Judith: “Devour”.
Chuck: “Devour”.
Judith: Verschlingen, “to devour”.
Chuck: “At the end, sailors and…” Kahn?
Judith: “Barge”.
Chuck: “Barge”.
Judith: Like a small boat.
Chuck: Ok.
Judith: Und das hat mit ihrem Singen, die Loreley getan.
Chuck: “And Lorelai did that with her singing.”
Judith: Yes. Great.
Chuck: Ok.
Judith: Have you heard this legend before?
Chuck: No. I had a friend online who had a heard of Lorelai. She said it was about some kind of poem or something. I was like, “Ok”.
Judith: Yeah, this song is based on the poem. It’s almost word for word Heinrich Heine’s most famous poem. And it was set to melody and now it’s part of the folklore in Germany. The subject is this maid called the Loreley, that’s her name and she’s part of this very well-known German myth. Loreley, or so the legend says, was the name of a very, very beautiful girl who attracted every man, except the one that she loved. So, well, there are several variations but eventually she jumped down a cliff into the river Rhine and since then she’s said to haunt that cliff, and she’s like a siren, singing very beautifully, looking beautifully and distracting the sailors from the most dangerous part of the river Rhine. You can still see it if you take the train to Southern Germany, you might come by this place actually in the Rhine which is marked as the Lorelai rock. And it’s in Bacherach, in the German state of Rheinland-Pfalz, that’s Rhineland-Palatinate for you. And, for example, all the while when I was going to Mannheim, say Cologne to Mannheim, I would always pass by this rock. It’s a very beautiful area, but the Rhine takes a very sharp turn and there are a lot of cliffs, a lot of rocks. I think they blasted the most dangerous of them, but it’s still a rather dangerous place for ships to go.
Chuck: Oh wow, ok.
Judith: There are a lot of dangerous stones and rocks in the river. Even recently there was an accident. Well, not recently, recently but like ten years ago, I think. And there’s also a faint echo that can be heard if everything is quiet, which is rather rare now. But if it’s quiet, you can hear the echo and this echo is said to be the voice of the Loreley.
Chuck: Nice.
Judith: Ok, now let’s look at these peculiar German words. First, actually, I would like to talk about a different topic. First the superlative because we’ve seen a couple in this song.
Chuck: So I guess now we’ll hear the grammar from the voice of the Judith?
Judith: Yes. For example, we saw die schönste Jungfrau and schönste is the superlative. It means “most beautiful”. The superlative is the most augmented form of an adjective. For example, in English you have words like “strongest”, “hardest”, “most beautiful”, whatever. And in German the superlative is formed much the same, by adding the ST or EST to an adjective. And then, of course, because it’s German, you also have the adjective ending which you mustn’t leave off. So you have words like stärkste, schönste, härteste. You hear the ST, it’s very easy to spot in these words. And in contrast to English, it’s not possible to use the word “most”, like “most beautiful” - we don’t say that. We don’t say meist schönst, you have to say schönste no matter how long the word is. For example, also wunderbarsten - that's quite a long word. In English you would say “most wonderful”, in German wunderbarste.
Chuck: You say “the wonderfulest”.
Judith: Yeah.
Chuck: Nice.
Judith: That’s the literal thing, what you’re saying.
Chuck: Alright. I think it sounds more simple.
Judith: Simpler. Yeah. It’s the same rule. We actually had the comparative before, more simple. And there too, it was the same rule, you always add the ending, you don’t use the “more”, “most” or whatever.
Chuck: Ok.
Judith: And actually there’s one more thing you can do. You can say aller wunderbarste or allerschönste, allerstärkste or whatever. The aller makes it even more profound. You’re implying “more beautiful than anybody” or “most beautiful”.
Chuck: Ah, like saying of all.
Judith: Yeah, of all.
Chuck: The most beautiful of all.
Judith: Of all. That’s pretty much the aller. But you could also say von allen, die Schönste von allen, “the most beautiful of all”, that’s the literal. But aller you can just add it to the beginning of the adjective and that does the same trick.
Chuck: Ok, cool.
Judith: Now, what you already remarked on while translating this is the old German grammar that you can still sometimes see. It’s not old, old German but it’s, say, a century or two old. And this means that the language has changed a bit in the meantime.
Chuck: You just put it there to trick me.
Judith: No, I didn’t put anything there. It’s the original words to the song, the original words that Heinrich Heine used and it’s quite natural for him.
Chuck: Alright.
Judith: One thing that we saw is the additional E ending for dative nouns, like in Schiffe. Schiffe almost looks like plural but here the E in Schiffe is just to mark the dative, cause you say im kleinen Schiffe, that’s the dative form of this. And it’s outdated nowadays, but you’ll still find it in set expressions or also with expressions like im Herzen, you also have this additional EN ending. When normally you would say im Herz but im Herzen is just so set that you always say it like that.
Chuck: So if that was older German, then were there any other peculiarities?
Judith: Yeah, well, we saw also sitzet when normally you would say sitzt nowadays. This is also peculiar. We see an additional E in this word which should not be there.
Chuck: Actually it makes it more regular, doesn’t it?
Judith: Well, depends. I would think it’s not… it sounds kind of weird. And the thing is you don’t see it in kämmt. If it was regular it would be kämmet. And actually kämmet is an old form that you hear sometimes, but obviously not old enough. I think it got gradually assimilated and now for sitzet you have it because otherwise the word is kind of hard to pronounce. Sitzt is a lot of consonants at once, but kämmet, kämmt is quite easy to pronounce so it got removed there at first. And we have another example in the song, it’s blitzet instead of blitzt.
Chuck: Alright.
Judith: But both of these are old. Nowadays, you should definitely be saying sitzt and blitzt, quite normal.
Chuck: Right.
Judith: So this was only to simplify the pronunciation at that time.
Chuck: Alright.
Judith: And I think that’s all that we saw in this song, that is in any way peculiar.


Chuck: That’s the end of our series then?
Judith: Yeah, I guess so. Well, we’ll be having a new Intermediate Series, obviously.
Chuck: That’s so sad. Yay, I'm on Christmas break!
Judith: Yeah, you sound very sad.
Chuck: 24 movable paid holidays every year.
Judith: At least, legally guaranteed.
Chuck: Yes, I love Germany.
Judith: But it’s not Christmas break yet because there’s still the Beginner lesson on the 23rd. You know in Germany we celebrate Christmas on the 24th, on Christmas Eve? That’s when everybody gets the presents. So our Christmas break starts on the 24th and then we will be off until the New Year.
Chuck: It makes sense that you keep me working all the way up until Christmas.
Judith: Well, I'm sorry.
Chuck: Alright. Well, we thought for our listeners, we would make a video for them.
Judith: Yes.
Chuck: So I hope you’ll enjoy it. Merry Christmas and have a Happy New Year!
Judith: Yes, all the best for your New Year. And for your Christmas. Frohe Weihnachten und ein schönes neues Jahr!
Chuck: See you then!
Judith: Bis dann!