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Lesson Transcript

Chuck: This is Intermediate Series Lesson 5.
Judith: Willkommen zurück.
Chuck: Welcome back to another episode of the Learn German Through Songs Series by GermanPod101. The explanations in this series are geared to intermediate students, well, like me, I guess. But really anyone can enjoy getting to understand German songs.
Judith: Also the difficulty level between the songs can be a bit different. For example, last week’s song, Dieser Weg, featured really easy and repetitive vocabulary, but 99 Luftballons was rather more difficult. Songs are not lesson dialogues. We can’t make them as easy as we want them to be. However, we’re keeping the really complex ones for later.
Chuck: And Judith can make them as complex as she wants them to be. Alright, so what are we going to hear today?
Judith: The song “Indianer” by Pur. Pur is a band name, maybe hard to Google, but they are quite a popular band here in Germany. They have been around for more than 25 years and they can still fill soccer stadiums up with their concerts. My mother is a big Pur fan and I grew up with them.
Chuck: So “Indianer”… Are those like people from India or those, like, Indians in the states?
Judith: Indianer is the German word for Native Americans. In German it’s actually possible to make a distinction. We have Inder for people from India and Indianer for Native Americans.
Chuck: Ah, that’s kind of nice. But wait, Native Americans, that doesn’t sound like a typical topic for a German song.
Judith: I can already tell you that the song’s not directly about Native Americans, however it’s a great opportunity to learn some words that will help you understand Western novels or movies in German. And we’ll have a glimpse at a part of German thinking that you wouldn’t learn about anywhere else.
Chuck: You heard it here first. GermanPod101. Best place to get information on how Germans tick. Now let’s go through the song. Don’t forget you can also listen to an excerpt from the song online and we put a link in the lesson description on GermanPod101.com.
Judith: Ok, starts simple enough. Wo sind all die Indianer hin?
Chuck: That’d be “Where did all the Indians come from”?
Judith: No, “go to”. Hin is the direction.
Chuck: Oh, right.
Judith: Her is “coming here”.
Chuck: So if it was Wo sind all die Indianer her? would that mean “Where are they all from”?
Judith: Yeah.
Chuck: Alright. So “Where are all the Native Americans going?”
Judith: Yeah, “where have they gone?” Wann verlor das große Ziel den Sinn?
Chuck: “When will they lose…”
Judith: No.
Chuck: Verlor is “lose”, right?
Judith: “Lost”, past tense.
Chuck: Yeah. “When did the big goal lose its sense?”
Judith: Dieses alte Bild aus der Kinderzeit zeigt alle Brüder vom Stamm der Gerechtigkeit.
Chuck: “This old picture from the time of being kids shows all the brothers from” Stamm is…
Judith: Tribe.
Chuck: “Tribe”, ah.
Judith: Stamm can either be “a tree trunk” or , in the sense of people, it’s “a tribe”.
Chuck: Ah, I only know it from Stammtisch, like where all the people meet at the same table.
Judith: That’s yet another meaning, that’s “a patron’s table”. Stamm as in “people that have always been there”, that are your usual clients.
Chuck: I think it’s cool to think of it as like a tribal table, people coming and they’re like the modern tribes in the cities.
Judith: Nice interpretation.
Chuck: Let’s see… So “All the brothers from the tribe of justice”.
Judith: Wir waren bunt bemalt und mit wildem Schrei stand jeder stolze Krieger den Schwachen bei.
Chuck: So “We were… bemalt is”?
Judith: Painted.
Chuck: “Painted”, ah. “We’re all colorfully painted and with wild cries every…” Krieger it’s “warrior”? That’s from 99 Luftballons.
Judith: Yeah, we had it, Krieger, “the warrior”.
Chuck: Yeah.
Judith: Stand jeder stolze Krieger den Schwachen bei.
Chuck: So “Every proud warrior stood by the weak”?
Judith: Yes. Unser Ehrenwort war heilig.
Chuck: “Word of honesty”?
Judith: “Word of honor”. Ehre is “honor”.
Chuck: Yeah, now I realize how little I talk about Native Americans in German.
Judith: This word is not limited to Native Americans.
Chuck: I know, but just these typical words that you wouldn’t pick up otherwise. So “Our word of honor was holy”.
Judith: Nur ein Bleichgesicht betrog.
Chuck: “Only a bleach face”?
Judith: “Pale face”. Bleich can mean “pale”.
Chuck: I thought you were saying there wasn’t any Indian-specific vocabulary here.
Judith: Yeah, this one is. I told you there are some so this is perfect if you want to, like, study a Western novel or something. But also some words that apply across the border.
Chuck: Alright. Betrog is “threatened”, right?
Judith: No, betrügen is the main verb and it means “to cheat” or “defraud”. And betrog is the past tense.
Chuck: So “only cheated a pale face”?
Judith: “Only pale faces would cheat.” Und es waren gute Jahre, bis der Erste sich belog.
Chuck: “There was a good year until the first…”
Judith: “Good couple of years”.
Chuck: Ah, gute Jahre, yeah. Where plural was the E at the end. Alright. “And a few good years it was”, “And it was a few good years until the first were cheated”.
Judith: No, “lied to himself”.
Chuck: You said it means “cheated”.
Judith: Betrügen means “to cheat”. Belügen means “to lie”.
Chuck: You’re tricking me.
Judith: Well, they obviously chose these words because they rhyme, betrog. Belog.
Chuck: Oh, those crazy people rhyming words in songs. Do they do that in American songs too? I guess so.
Judith: So “It was a good couple of years until the first lied to himself”. And now there’s the chorus, wo sind all die Indianer hin?
Chuck: “Where are all the Indians going?”
Judith: “Where have they all gone?”
Chuck: Ah, yeah.
Judith: Wann verlor das große Ziel den Sinn?
Chuck: “When did the great purpose lose its sense?”
Judith: So wie Chingachgook für das Gute stehen.
Chuck: So like “Chingachgook for the good stood.”
Judith: “To stand for the good like Chingachgook”. He’s a character in Cooper’s novels.
Chuck: Ok.
Judith: Als letzter Mohikaner unter Geiern nach dem Rechten sehen.
Chuck: “As the last Mohicans under the vultures.”
Judith: It would help if you start at the end because this is sub clause so the verb is at the end.
Chuck: That’s fun. “To see”, no, “to look at”.
Judith: It’s an expression, actually. Nach dem Rechten sehen is “to make sure that everything’s right”. I don’t know if there’s an expression in English that uses the word “to look”, “to look for the right”? I don't know.
Chuck: That’s probably why I'm getting confused here. Nach dem Rechten sehen, it’s weird. “To the right see”.
Judith: “To make sure that everything’s all right”.
Chuck: Ok.
Judith: “As the last Mohican under vultures” and there’s no real reason to include these words “last Mohicans, under vultures” except that they are titles of famous Western novels. “The last Mohican”, of course, is written by Cooper, which you should know as an English speaker, and Unter Geiern you should not know because it’s a work by Karl May, a famous German author.
Chuck: Ok, I know Geiern from some card game, German card game. I don’t remember which one though.
Judith: Ok back to the next answer. Der kleine Büffel spielt heute Boss.
Chuck: “The small” Büffel... what’s that?
Judith: Buffalo.
Chuck: Ah, “the small buffalo today plays the big boss”.
Judith: Er zog mit Papis Firma das große Los.
Chuck: “He moved with dad’s company…”
Judith: No. Ziehen is “to...”
Chuck: Pull?
Judith: Yeah, “pull” or “to drag”, but Los ziehen is “to draw a lottery ticket”. And das große Los ziehen is “to be very lucky”. “He got the big ticket out of the lottery”, he made a big win.
Chuck: Ok.
Judith: And what did he win? He won dad’s company, so he’s playing boss now. Geschmeidige Natter sortiert die Post.
Chuck: Ok, you lost me again.
Judith: Geschmeidige Natter is hard. It’s a name, I had to look this up myself. Natter is a kind of snake, in English it’s a Natter.
Chuck: Never heard of it. Ok. Only here you’ll learn words that you’ve never heard before.
Judith: Ok, so let’s say “Snake is sorting the mail now”.
Chuck: This is what we were talking about, that we can’t actually change the words of the songs. The artist wouldn’t like that very much. We asked somebody and he said, “No, we can’t”. Sorry.
Judith: Und in seiner Freizeit sagt er meistens Prost.
Chuck: “And in their free time he says, “Cheers!” Yeah.
Judith: It’s all about this guy called Snake.
Chuck: Ah, ok.
Judith: It’s talking about… well, first he was talking about small buffalo and now he’s talking small Snake. Obviously people that adopted these names. Und die Friedenspfeife baumelt überm Videogerät.
Chuck: I think I got this one. “And the freedom pipe”.
Judith: Peace pipe.
Chuck: Almost got it.
Judith: Frieden, don’t confuse. It sounds similar. Frieden, “peace”. Freiheit is “freedom”.
Chuck: Ah, yeah, you switched the ei and the i there.
Judith: Besides, think of Native Americans, have you heard of a “freedom pipe”? I think “peace pipe” is in everybody’s vocabulary.
Chuck: Yeah. I'm thinking too much of ordinary Americans and not in… Well, if there was such thing as a “French pipe” then there would be a “freedom pipe” but… “And the peace pipe baumelt?
Judith: Is dangling.
Chuck: “Dangle”. “And the peace pipe dangles over the video device”?
Judith: Yes, “video player”. Wie viel Träume dürfen platzen ohne dass man sich verrät?
Chuck: “How many dreams need to be replaced before…”
Judith: No.
Chuck: No?
Judith: “How many dreams are allowed to burst” like bubbles.
Chuck: Platzen is “burst”?
Judith: Yeah, it’s onomatopoeia. You can hear the sound, platz.
Chuck: “How many dreams are allowed to burst without one feeling betrayed?”
Judith: Yeah, “without betraying oneself”. And then there’s the chorus again, which we’re not going to translate again, and final stanza. It’s not really a stanza, it’s more like a bridge. It sounds different. Es gibt noch ein paar wenige vom Stamme der Shoshonen.
Chuck: “There are only few couples of the tribe of Shoshonen left”.
Judith: Die finden sich. Erkennen sich am Blick.
Chuck: “They know themselves”? “They find themselves”? Wow…
Judith: Yeah, “they can recognize each other”, “they can find each other”.
Chuck: Yeah, it is one of the ones where I can understand it but I can’t translate it very well. “They know each other instantly”.
Judith: Just at looking.
Chuck: Yeah.
Judith: Und deren gute Taten kann man nur durch Freundschaft belohnen.
Chuck: I used to know the word Taten.
Judith: “Actions” or “deeds”.
Chuck: Ah yeah. “And the good deeds can only be known through friendship”.
Judith: “You can only reward their good deeds through friendship.”
Chuck: Ah ok.
Judith: Belohnen, “to reward”. Sie nehmen ein Versprechen nie zurück.
Chuck: “They never take their promises back.”
Judith: Yes.
Chuck: The last line’s at least nice to make me still look smart.
Judith: Well, you’re improving your German just with the rest of us.
Chuck: Yes.
Judith: So what’s with the Native Americans here?
Chuck: That’s what I want to know.
Judith: If you’re coming to Germany from the Americas, you shouldn’t be too surprised if you’re asked about Native Americans in your area. A lot of Germans take interest in them even though there are almost no Native Americans living in Germany as you can imagine. Actually, it’s not quite true because the first time I met a Native American was actually in Germany, in the Black Forest, to be precise. I was there on a vacation with my family and we were just hiking. And in one of those little villages, we stumbled upon Germans in authentic Native American costumes, and they were having a dance and they were drumming and… It was quite a sight, deep in the Black Forest. And so it was mostly Germans, but one, one Native American was sitting by, like a picture of him. I imagine they invited him, they seemed to have a club down there, Native American and Western club, and they were showing me that they had created their own clothes and gadgets and tents and everything. They were very, very interested in Native American culture, and that is actually not that uncommon here, in Germany, if you look. Also you have to know that Native American is a very popular costume when carnival comes around. You know, German kids dress up for carnival, much like yours would for Halloween. It’s around the time of Mardi Grass though. Then you can see lots of little Native Americans or even the girls do so. Not so authentic but it’s very popular.
Chuck: It’s probably like the Americans dress up like Indians too. It’s not very authentic. I think most of this fascination is mostly due to Karl May and his literature, right?
Judith: Yes, Karl May definitely had a big influence in that. He was an author who lived around the turn of the last century, very popular… I’d say the vast majority of German men has read one of his books and it’s kind of like the standard literature for boys that gets passed down from father to son. Father says, “Hey, I really loved those books when I was a kid. You have to read them.” That’s like how they get passed. A lot of percentage of the women read them too even though.
Chuck: They can be found in some English translation too, right?
Judith: Oh, really awful translations. I wouldn’t recommend it. Somebody also around the turn of the century tried to translate them, but make them into morality novels about Christianity and completely mixed up the story. It’s not a translation at all, hardly better than the movies made of Karl May, they’re also very, very, very liberal with the material. You have to read the original.
Chuck: Most movies are.
Judith: Yeah, but not that much. It’s like the movies only took the main protagonists and nothing else, almost nothing else.
Chuck: And how difficult is the language in them?
Judith: It’s not like Goethe, they’re not great literary quality, they’re made to just be enjoyed, really thrilling. But of course a lot of words describing the landscape, describing the rain or things like that, you find some advanced words.
Chuck: I just ignore those paragraphs anyway so it’s ok.
Judith: The stories… Karl May wrote several story arks. Some of Karl May’s books are set in the Orient and some are set in North America, and the rest is scattered around the world. But Orient and North America are the two big lines of books. And in the North American story, which is the most popular too, there are two heroes that fight for peace and justice in the old West. One of the heroes is German, of course, Karl May was very patriotic, and one is an Apache chief, his name is Winnetou, and that’s also the title of one of the books, actually three other books, Winnetou I, II and III. Karl May is similar to James Cooper in some senses. For example, he also romanticizes this frontier life and he has this image of the noble savage meaning that he portrays the Native Americans as good, honorable, noble people, much better than they are. And I think he does it even more so than James Cooper because in Karl May’s novels if they are evil Native Americans they probably have been misled by right scoundrels. And what I like though is that the books are less violent than… “The Last of the Mohicans” was, for example, was very violent. And Karl May’s heroes are peace makers. They manage to solve a lot of conflicts. And these books are always praised by parents because they’ll instill values in the readers, like honor, honesty, friendship, truthfulness, clemency, bravery. And Native Americans are the prime examples chosen for these values, especially Winnetou, of course, the main hero, and this leads to German children, they just love Native Americans and at some point, of course, they’re disillusioned, they learn about history, they learn that there were some evil Native Americans too and that the world is not black and white but…
Chuck: It all depends on what history you read.
Judith: Yeah. Well, they learn that the world is not black and white and at that point their interest persists. And that’s how there is such a big interest in Native Americans in Germany, is that they grew up learning that Native Americans are all that is good and then, at some point, they learn it’s not as black and white as that. But by that time they’re already seriously interested in Native American culture or languages. Even Karl May has a thing where he, like, includes the languages of the people that he’s speaking, like you can actually learn some Apache words if you’re reading Karl May.
Chuck: Nice.
Judith: And it just raises this interest in Native Americans things and… So if they later grow up and they come to the USA, it’s very common that they would like to see a reservation or something. That’s the interest. Now today’s song is not really about the loss of the Native Americans tribes, though that would be worth a song too. It’s more like the disillusionment of Germans who in their youth have tried to be noble like Native Americans. If they maybe had a little clique, a little gang amongst boys and they gave each other Native Americans names, and they played around a bit, and they were trying to imitate the values that they thought all Native Americans have. They tried to be noble, they tried to be good friends, to keep their promises, to follow their dreams, and this song is about the moment when they just got absorbed in the mainstream and they start leading boring lives and that’s… This one line that I particularly like in this song is Die Friedenspfeife baumelt überm Videogerät. “Piece pipe is dangling over the video player” and I think for me that expresses a lot of this sentiment.
Chuck: Yeah.

Lesson focus

Judith: Ok, let’s get back to serious matters. We’ve been talking a lot but we haven’t yet done our grammar for today.
Chuck: We have to do the grammar?
Judith: Of course we do, you know that.
Chuck: Can we just dress up Indians and take pictures and show them?
Judith: That would be fun. No. Today I’d like to discuss when to use which case and it’s a very short topic because there’s so many rules and exceptions that we can’t actually talk about them all, so just a short summary for today. Of course, you know, nominative and genitive cases are the easiest. Nominative is reserved for the subject, the subject of the sentence, and genitive is used to express belonging. Like, in English, if you have a word like “the women’s clothes”, then “women’s” with S apostrophe is the genitive if you want, and that’s the same way it’s used in German. This leaves the dative and accusative, and these cases are hard because both used in the same way, they’re both used for objects and for prepositions. I notice that the dative usually seems to be used for people, and accusative, of course, for either things or people so it doesn’t’ make it particularly easy. Only if you have a thing, that is less likely to be dative. When there are two objects, like for the verb geben, Ich gebe dir ein Buch, then the receiver must be dative and the gift is accusative. You know, of course, the two objects can’t share the same case. You can’t have a sentence with two accusatives, at least not as objects. And the rest I'm afraid you have to learn by heart. You have to learn which verb takes which case. There is a vague relation between the use of the English preposition “to” and the German dative. For example, if I give mir in the vocabulary, I would translate it as “to me”. And for mich, the accusative version, I would translate it as “me”.
Chuck: Yeah, like I know when I always mixed up, I think about you.
Judith: Yeah. The problem is that in some cases it doesn’t match. Also, seeing French or Italian or Spanish, they use a and that’s approximately the dative for them. But it doesn’t always match because in some cases they have verbs which require dative and ours require accusative or the vice versa. It’s very hard. So then there’s a case of prepositions, both dative and accusative can be used for prepositions. And in this case it’s just a matter of learning a list of prepositions with their corresponding case. Fortunately they’re not too many prepositions. There’s one handy rule - dative is used with locations and accusative with directions. If you have a preposition like German in, which corresponds to English “in” or “into”, then you know if it’s “into” it’s a direction and it has to be used with the accusative. And same for “on”, “onto” and the like. There’s also a couple prepositions that still take the genitive case, and they’re really an aberration because they’re being replaced by the dative as we speak. If you see a preposition that has to be used with genitive according to your textbook, then in colloquial speech you can already use it with dative and anything else will sound very stilted. One such example is wegen, meaning “because of”.
Chuck: You’re right. I got an example here. Wegen zu großer Langeweile hören wir hier mit dem Programm auf. “Cause of too much boredom, we’re stopping the program here.”
Judith: You know, you’ll have to learn these use cases sometime. Otherwise you’ll always be taken for an intermediate student, even if your vocabulary is way beyond that.
Chuck: Are you trying to imply something here?
Judith: Particularly in writing, it’s very obvious if you use the wrong case.
Chuck: I'm sure someday I’ll learn them.


Judith: Ok, well, if something was left unclear you can always read up on it in the PDF, of course. The PDF contains the complete song lyrics in German and the English translation and there is also some select vocabulary to practice, a summary of grammar and of the cultural point.
Chuck: And hopefully you will all read it more than me.
Judith: Hey, I will make you read it too.
Chuck: Oh, I think I have to go. See you next week.
Judith: Bis nächste Woche!