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Lesson Transcript

Chuck: This is Intermediate Series Lesson 6.
Judith: Willkommen zurück.
Chuck: Welcome back. I'm glad you’re with us to learn some more German through songs. This series is really helping me to improve my German and I hope the same is true for you. So, Judith, what’s today’s song?
Judith: Today we will analyze Kein Zurück by Wolfsheim. Wolfsheim is a popular German alternative band.
Chuck: Popular? Well, I’ve never heard of them. But, hey, at least the title’s easy to understand - "No turning back”. Let’s hear the rest of the lyrics. You can read along in the PDF and if you’d like to hear the song just follow the link in the lesson description.
Judith: Ok, here we go with the lyrics.
Judith: Es geht kein Weg zurück.
Chuck: “There’s no way back.”
Judith: “Weißt du noch, wie es war?”
Chuck: “Do you still know how it was?”
Judith: Easy, right?
Chuck: Yeah.
Judith: You didn’t even spend much time thinking.
Chuck: Yeah, I like this song already.
Judith: Kinderzeit, wunderbar.
Chuck: “Children’s time…”
Judith: Childhood.
Chuck: Ah, “childhood”. Ok. “Childhood wonderful…”
Judith: I think we had the word Kinderzeit before in the song “Indianer”.
Chuck: Yeah, and I got it wrong then too. I should listen to GermanPod101 to improve my German.
Judith: You should. “Die Welt ist bunt und schön.”
Chuck: “The world is…” See… I understand that but I don’t know the translation.
Judith: Yeah, you’re thinking, aren’t you? Bunte.
Chuck: Yeah, I am.
Judith: Colorful.
Chuck: Ah, ok. “Colorful and beautiful”.
Judith: “Bis du irgendwann begreifst”
Chuck: “Until you sometime…” Begreifen is… no. Zugreifen is “attack”, right?
Judith: No, zugreifen is “to grip”.
Chuck: To grip.
Judith: Greifen is also “to grip”, but begreifen is “to understand”.
Chuck: Ah, like [1:59 speaks Dutch]. I take that’s the word in Dutch.
Judith: Just confuse our listeners even more, using more languages.
Chuck: Yeah, next we will do French. So, wait, what’s “attack” then?
Judith: Angreifen.
Chuck: Angreifen.
Judith: I think we should do a vocabulary series just exploring the different words based on the same root.
Chuck: Yeah, that’s a good idea.
Judith: “Bis du irgendwann begreifst, dass nicht jeder Abschied heißt, es gibt auch ein Wiedersehen.”
Chuck: “That not every conclusion”? No, Abschied.
Judith: “Goodbye”.
Chuck: “Goodbye”.
Judith: Or “taking leave” or…
Chuck: Ok.
Judith: It is the noun.
Chuck: “That not every goodbye is called”.
Judith: No, “means”.
Chuck: “Means”, oh, right.
Judith: In the third persons person and only there it means “means”.
Chuck: Es heißt, right?
Judith: Yeah.
Chuck: Ok. There’s an abbreviation too that people use.
Judith: Oh, you mean das heißt?
Chuck: Yeah.
Judith: That’s d.h.
Chuck: Yeah, so you might see that in an email from a German. If you see d.h., then you’ll know it means das heißt.
Judith: That means… So…
Chuck: “Es gibt auch ein Wiedersehen.” “There will also be a seeing again”? “There’ll be another meeting”?
Judith: Yeah, maybe.
Chuck: “We’ll meet again”?
Judith: So to recapture the whole – “The world is beautiful and nice, until you sometime realize that not every time you say goodbye you can be sure that you’ll also be meeting people again”.
Chuck: Your translation is better than mine.
Judith: No, I'm just translating more freely.
Chuck: Ok. Don’t forget I was also in London the last 12 days so my German’s a bit in the back of my head now. That’s my excuse, anyway. Alright. We can go on.
Judith: Ok, and now the chorus…
Chuck: Just keep going forward.
Judith: Yes, that’s actually a part of it. Immer vorwärts, Schritt um Schritt.
Chuck: “Always forward, step by step.”
Judith: Yes. Es geht kein Weg zurück.
Chuck: “There’s no way back.”
Judith: Und was jetzt ist wird nie mehr ungeschehen.
Chuck: “And what is now will nevermore…” Ungeschehen, what’s that?
Judith: You know geschehen?
Chuck: I’ve seen it. I forget what it means.
Judith: Geschehen is “to happen” or “happened”. In this case, both forms are the same. And ungeschehen will not be taken back. In Esperanta you could say it. You get the idea. “Undone” implies that somebody has done something, but “unhappened” implies that it happens and it’s not going to be taken back.
Chuck: Ok. Right. So “unhappened”, you’ve today learned the word for “unhappen” in German.
Judith: It’s really poetic. It’s not something you’d use every day.
Chuck: Yeah.
Judith: Die Zeit läuft uns davon.
Chuck: “The time is running out?” No…
Judith: “Running away from us”, but yeah, it means “it’s running out on us”.
Chuck: Oh, ok.
Judith: Was getan ist, ist getan.
Chuck: “What is done, is done.”
Judith: Was jetzt ist wird nie mehr so geschehen.
Chuck: “What is now will never be… will never more so happen”, what?
Judith: “Will never happen like this again.”
Chuck: Ok.
Judith: Never again.
Chuck: So often in German is used when you want to say “like”…
Judith: “Like that”, “in this manner”.
Chuck: “Like that”. Cause you would never say wie das.
Judith: Yeah.
Chuck: It’s a common mistake that English speakers especially make in German.
Judith: Now they say Es geht kein Weg zurück. They say it twice.
Chuck: Ok. Do you want me to say it once or twice?
Judith: Once is enough. Just repeat it.
Chuck: “There is no way back.”
Judith: Yeah. They only had it at the beginning of the song, and now here it appears twice and later on it appears three times in a row. So it seems to some kind of increase…
Chuck: So then there’s multiple ways that you can’t go back.
Judith: Ein Wort zu viel im Zorn gesagt.
Chuck: “A word is used too much, like a thorn”?
Judith: No. Zorn is “rage”, “anger”. “A word” and then you have to go to the end, gesagt, “said”. “One word too many that you said in anger”. ‘n Schritt zu weit nach vorn gewagt. And the ‘n is an abbreviation for ein, of course, or einen.
Chuck: “A step too far forward” , gewagt, I know this word…
Judith: Wagen, “to risk”.
Chuck: Oh, ok.
Judith: So gewagt “risked”.
Chuck: Alles klar.
Judith: “One step too many that you risked.”
Chuck: Alright.
Judith: Schon ist es vorbei.
Chuck: “It’s already gone.”
Judith: Was auch immer jetzt getan.
Chuck: “Whatever was now done.”
Judith: Was ich gesagt hab ist gesagt.
Chuck: “What I’ve said is said.”
Judith: Und was wie ewig schien ist schon Vergangenheit.
Chuck: “And what was…” schien is...?
Judith: Is past tense of scheinen, “to seem”.
Chuck: Ah, ok. “What seemed like a century is now…”
Judith: No, ewig. Ewig is “eternal”.
Chuck: Ah.
Judith: “What seemed to last eternal.”
Chuck: Alright, I'm getting “eternal”.
Judith: Or “would seem to be made for eternity.”
Chuck: “Is already in the past.”
Judith: Yes. Now the chorus again. We’re not going to translate it again. And then Ach und könnt ich doch nur ein einzges Mal. Einzges is also a contraction commonly used in poetry and of course means einziges.
Chuck: And “I could still only one time”? No…
Judith: “Could I”… It’s…
Chuck: And “Could I…”
Judith: “Just a single time”, yes, that part as well.
Chuck: Oh, yeah.
Judith: Die Uhren rückwärts drehen.
Chuck: “Turned the years backwards.”
Judith: Not years.
Chuck: “Turned the hours backwards…”
Judith: Or the clock. Uhren.
Chuck: Oh, right. Ok.
Judith: “Could I turn the clocks backwards just one time.” Denn wie viel von dem was ich heut weiß, hätt ich lieber nie gesehen.
Chuck: “Because so much of that would I know today, I would rather never have seen.”
Judith: Yes.
Chuck: Alright.
Judith: Getting complicated here, but fortunately it’s the same as in English. Cause hätte is “would have” and gesehen is “seen”. Ok, this is the part where Es geht kein Weg zurück appears three times.
Chuck: Ooh…
Judith: Growing in numbers.
Chuck: What’s going to happen now?
Judith: And now Dein Leben dreht sich nur im Kreis.
Chuck: “Your life is turning in circles”?
Judith: Yeah, “It’s just turning in circles, over and over.” That’s what the nur implies.
Chuck: Ok.
Judith: So voll von weggeworfener Zeit.
Chuck: “So full from wasted time.”
Judith: Full of.
Chuck: Ah, “So full of wasted time”.
Judith: Und deine Träume schiebst du endlos vor dir her.
Chuck: “And you keep pushing your dreams away from you.”
Judith: Well, actually it says vor dir her, “in front of you”. It’s like you’re postponing them.
Chuck: Oh, ok. She just has to correct me all the time.
Judith: Sorry, I'm just trying to give our listeners the best understanding of this song.
Chuck: Sure, it’s for the listeners.
Judith: Almost done.
Chuck: Alright.
Judith: Du willst noch leben irgendwann.
Chuck: “You still want to live some time.”
Judith: Doch wenn nicht heute, wann denn dann?
Chuck: “But if not today, then when then?” No…
Judith: That’s the literal “then when then?” In German it’s fun too. Wann denn dann. “If you’re not going to live today, when are you going to live?”
Chuck: Basically, yeah, “but if not today, when then?”
Judith: Denn irgendwann ist auch ein Traum zu lange her.
Chuck: “Because sometimes it’s also a dream too far away.”
Judith: “Too far back in time”, zu lang her.
Chuck: Ah, ok.
Judith: Some time even a dream is too old.
Chuck: Something like that, yeah. And we hope we’ve confused our listeners well enough.
Judith: I hope not. It’s just that it’s hard to find… Well, actually it’s not very hard to find songs that aren’t that deep but also not the ones that I would care to do here either. There’s some that are really just three lines and half of the lines are da da or whatever. So…
Chuck: Or like “da da da”?
Judith: No, I mean that song in particular but you know just mindless syllables. And these are just not very good for analyzing. We have to do some songs that actually have some language in them. But it’s also true that in Germany you just find a lot of songs that are deeper, that have some meaning in them.
Chuck: We know that Germany is sometimes called the country of poets and thinkers.
Judith: Land der Dichter und Denker.
Chuck: But thinkers in this sense meaning philosophers.
Judith: Mostly, yeah. Germany has contributed a lot of important people to both the fields of literature and philosophy. In fact, today it’s even the birthday of one of them. Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, and of course just known as Hegel. Really important German philosopher and you should look him up in Wikipedia and learn more about him. But that’s maybe too much for an intermediate lesson. How about we just cover some parts of German thinking that might be unusual.
Chuck: Like that fact that they think they have to wait for traffic lights to turn red before they walk across the street?
Judith: That’s part of it. Wanting to obey the rules or procedures and getting anything done.
Chuck: I was particularly reminded of that London where nobody really cares about the traffic lights for pedestrians.
Judith: Well, I think it’s that way in many countries, except Germany. Also I often hear that Germans are supposedly colder than Americans? Some friends coming over say people feel less open or something. What do you think?
Chuck: Yeah. Or that could also be that Germans don’t tend to smile as much to strangers, maybe cause you tend to see in the States pretty much everyone just smiles all the time, whether they’re happy or not, just to appear friendly.
Judith: I think it’s, in America, it’s more superficial though.
Chuck: Could be.
Judith: The smiles, so they don’t mean… if they make some nice talk to you, it doesn’t mean necessarily that they’re a friend of yours.
Chuck: And how often Americans will say “I love you”… I suppose to how often Germans would say ich liebe dich.
Judith: Well, that’s a different thing anyway. Germans just say “I love you” to people that they love as in boyfriend or girlfriend, or husband or wife, not to parents or relatives or any kind… definitely not friends and…
Chuck: Ok.
Judith: That’s just a different meaning of this whole phrase. In Germany, you’d say Ich mag dich, “I like you”.
Chuck: Alright.
Judith: If you’d want to tell people that you care for them.
Chuck: You can tell that to your parents?
Judith: Well, usually you don’t need to.
Chuck: I know Americans often compliment people…
Judith: Or Ich hab dich gern works, works too.
Chuck: I know Americans often compliment much more often than Europeans do in general.
Judith: Yeah, it’s possible. I don’t know about other Europeans, but in Germany yeah, you wouldn’t praise people that much unless you seriously found something that you want to praise.
Chuck: Yeah. I remember hearing from a Polish girl that she was surprised how beautiful she always seemed in the States because everyone was always telling her that, and when she returned to Poland she would never hear it any more, for example.
Judith: Well, I know it’s one of the things that may discourage language learners in particular because, for example, in China if you know how to say “Hello” people will congratulate you and say, “Oh, you’re so fluent, you can speak Chinese so well.” And here, in Germany, unless you’re really astonishingly great, nobody will tell you you’re great, your German is great.
Chuck: Oh, well, everyone once they hear that you’re American?
Judith: Oh, I’d say the standards are not as high for Americans.
Chuck: I guess you could say that.
Judith: Well, I think you’ll discover that also Germans are more prudent when it comes to technological innovations. I remember, for example, cellphones - I think everybody in the States already had cellphones, and two years after they entered the market the German media was still discussing whether there was any danger of cancer or whatever. And they wanted to wait for the results of those studies before really getting into that wave and getting cellphones and…
Chuck: Right. It was also the fact that they took longer to develop the technology more and then SMS became much more popular and the cellphones here just became much more advanced than in the States.
Judith: Yeah, well, that’s part of the benefits that when we get the technologies they’re more developed. I think it’s just that people don’t adopt things as quickly because they’re more pessimistic about the functionality or possible dangers, they’re more prudent in wanting to have a lot of studies first, to make sure that there’s enough research done to make sure that.
Chuck: And the Americans are more like they say, “Oooh, shiny!”
Judith: Yeah. It’s just general more pessimistic, people are more pessimistic here.
Chuck: Yeah.
Judith: About the future too… There’s… about their own chances of succeeding. There’s no American dream here too, one thing I really noticed.
Chuck: That also, yeah, you don’t see people from… If you start out poor, you pretty much end poor. I mean you don’t see much…
Judith: It depends. I don’t think it’s more than in the States, actually. But in the States people have a different attitude about it, they think they can succeed. And here everybody’s, “Politicians… they’re going to make sure we stay down anyway and…” No. People will like to order their lives more – it is definitely something that can be seen. And then, of course, it’s a stereotype deriving from Prussian times. The Prussians were particularly orderly and strict, and I know a lot of Germans that have a big mess in their rooms and they don’t care too much about cleaning. But the thing is that there’re quite a lot of people that care about it, and especially that care about appointments and planning ahead…
Chuck: Yes.
Judith: That decide in January where they will be traveling in October. That’s why it’s so important to be a bit less impulsive when you’re coming to Germany and you’re planning to crash at a German friend or something. You should inform them in time.
Chuck: Yeah, pretty much. When you come to Germany bring your scheduler with you so you can keep track of all the appointments you make with Germans.

Lesson focus

Judith: Ok. Let’s talk about some grammar. Today’s grammar is the past participle.
Chuck: Sounds like fun.
Judith: It’s not that bad. Participles are forms of verbs that can be used like adjectives or adverbs or also they are used for complex verbs tenses. There are two types of participles in German, English or other modern European languages, but just the active participle for present tense and the passive participle for past tense. And I bet you’re happy that you’re not learning Greek because in Greek you have two participles active and passive for past, present and future, for a total of six participles. Today we’re only covering the passive past participle and in English, for example, that would be the word “wasted” in the sentence “I don’t mind the wasted time”. You see, “waste” is normally a verb, “to waste - "I waste time”, except here we say “the wasted time”, so it’s used like an adjective.
Chuck: Ok.
Judith: And if I could think of a sentence now I’d also give you an example of how it can be used as an adverb like “I went about my way wastedly” or… it doesn’t quite work. But you know there are some verbs that you can use in this sense, even. So that will be the participle…
Chuck: “I went along my way hurriedly”.
Judith: “Hurriedly”, yeah, that works. “Hurry” is another such past participle.
Chuck: And if I can learn this grammar stuff then definitely all of you can learn it.
Judith: Definitely. So the idea is that it’s past, “wasted time”, it’s time that’s already gone, that you have already wasted, so it’s in the past if you wasted it. And it’s passive because the time is not wasting something, the time has been wasted. It’s not actively doing anything. So that’s the two different characteristics of this participle. In German, the equivalent form is formed by adding GE that is ge before the third person singular form, present tense. For example, if you have the verb sagen, “to say”, then the third person singular of that, the “he/she/it” form would be sagt. Er sagt.
Chuck: He says.
Judith: And then you add ge, GE, gesagt.
Chuck: Said.
Judith: For example, “the said words”. Die gesagten Wörter. Note that you have to conjugate this, so it’s not pretty, but it works just like an adjective in this sense even. And some other examples… let’s have the verb leben.
Chuck: That’d be gelebt.
Judith: Yes. Leben “to live”, er lebt “he lives” and gelebt “lived”.
Chuck: Alright.
Judith: Or another one, wagen “to risk”…
Chuck: Gewagt.
Judith: Yes.
Chuck: I think I saw that today, didn’t I?
Judith: Yes, it was in the song.
Chuck: Oh, ok.
Judith: Ok. It now gets just a little more complex and that is if there would be a vowel change in this particular form, third person singular, in that case you take the infinitive instead. So you don’t need to keep track of vowel changes or rather how they change. For example there’s the verb sehen.
Chuck: So that’d be gesehen.
Judith: Yes. Sehen, “to see”, the third person form would be er sieht. You suddenly have IE there instead of a simple I. And gesehen, not gesieht. Just wouldn’t sound right. And similarly for geben, “to give”…
Chuck: Gegeben.
Judith: Yes. And for irregular verbs you have an irregular form. It’s particularly those that already have an irregular past tense will probably also have an irregular past participle, so that’s one of the three forms that you have to learn for every German verb. Just like in English, by the way, because in English students of English also go “go/went/gone”. That is infinitive - “go”, past tense - "went”, and past participle - "gone”.
Chuck: Unlike the babies who always say “I goed to the park!” That’s how you’ll sound if you get it wrong in German.
Judith: Yes.
Chuck: You’ll be understood but it just sounds funny.
Judith: So in German also you would memorize these three forms - gehen, infinitive, ich ging, “I went” past tense, and gegangen, “gone”.
Chuck: But ging you would pretty much only see in writing, right?
Judith: Yes. This preterite past tense is only used in writing, but you will need gegangen for the tense that you would use in speaking. The perfect past tense. We’ll cover this in one of the future lessons. So this is really important to know.
Chuck: Alright.
Judith: You can’t get out of learning your irregular verbs, I'm sorry.
Chuck: We will learn more about past participles in the next few lessons but now I think I … I think I need to go wash my hair … yeah.
Judith: Do you really?
Chuck: Yeah … it is really getting bad. I should… I should take care of it immediately.
Judith: I don’t think I’ve ever seen a guy use that excuse.


Chuck: See you next week.
Judith: Bis nächste Woche.