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Lesson Transcript

Chuck: This is Intermediate Series Lesson 7.
Judith: Willkommen zurück.
Chuck: Welcome back.
Judith: Do you remember that song 99 Luftballons?
Chuck: Of course I remember it.
Judith: We got a lot of positive feedback for featuring it, so today we will present you with another well-known German song that you may have encountered in English already.
Chuck: Another well-known German song in English? I don't know any more. What do you mean?
Judith: It’s the song Major Tom - Völlig Losgelöst by Peter Schilling. It’s kind of like a second point of view on David Bowie’s Major Tom. This song was one of the most popular songs from the German Neue Deutsche Welle. The Neue Deutsche Welle was a music movement based in underground punk and new wave music, but as it became more popular the music itself took a turn towards the mainstream and Schlagerpop.
Chuck: Alright. I want to go listen to this song. Be right back. Alright, cool. I recognized the chorus. I didn’t know the rest of the song.
Judith: Yeah, the chorus is the most memorable, it is really beautiful.
Chuck: Alright, so if you haven’t heard this song before I strongly recommend listening to a sample of it cause you might remember the chorus too. There’s a link in the lesson description.
Judith: Or you could just look on YouTube or whatever.
Chuck: That works too. Some of you might also want to read the complete lyrics once before continuing with the analysis. You can find them in the PDF.
Judith: Ok, here we go. Gründlich durchgecheckt steht sie da und wartet auf den Start. Alles klar.
Chuck: That’s basic “checked in”?
Judith: No, gründlich, “thoroughly”.
Chuck: “Thoroughly checked in”, so I guess he’s going through a US airport, right?
Judith: No, but I’d imagine that with the astronaut associations you also have very big checks before they start one of those.
Chuck: Ah, astronaut. Oh, that makes this song make a lot more sense now.
Judith: Yeah, well, I’ve already said it’s kind of like David Bowie’s “Major Tom” so of course, yeah, it features an astronaut called Major Tom.
Chuck: I thought only the US had a space program. Maybe Russia…
Judith: Germany has too, so we talk about that in the cultural section.
Chuck: Alright.
Judith: For now the song. Gründlich durchgecheckt steht sie da und wartet auf den Start. Alles klar.
Chuck: “And wait for the start. Everything’s ready.”
Judith: Experten streiten sich um ein paar Daten. Die Crew hat noch ein paar Fragen. Doch der Countdown läuft.
Chuck: “Experts are struggling with a few more data…”
Judith: “Are discussing” or “arguing about it”. Streiten. Sich streiten. Die Crew hat noch ein paar Fragen.
Chuck: “The crew has a few more questions…”
Judith: Doch der Countdown läuft.
Chuck: “Yeah, the countdown’s running.”
Judith: Yeah. Effektivität bestimmt das Handeln.
Chuck: “Efficiency agrees with the seller?” No… handeln?
Judith: Handeln is “acting”, “to act” and bestimmen is “to determine”. “Efficiency determines the actions or the acting.” I don't know, can you say it like that in English?
Chuck: Don’t quite get it.
Judith: It means that all your actions are a show of efficiency, nothing superfluous and…
Chuck: Ok.
Judith: Man verlässt sich blind auf den Anderen.
Chuck: “One doesn’t look at what the other does.”
Judith: Yeah, that’s the free translation. Sich auf jemanden verlassen is “to rely on somebody” and blind, “blindly”. “You’re blindly relying on somebody else”.
Chuck: I was going to say if you need the paid translation, then you have to become a premium member.
Judith: To get the real translation.
Chuck: Otherwise you’re stuck with my translation, which is free.
Judith: You know that the PDF contains a translation, but I think I’ll have you write it too.
Chuck: Alright. Back to the song?
Judith: Jeder weiß genau, was von ihm abhängt.
Chuck: “Everyone knows exactly what’s depending on him.”
Judith: Yes. Jeder ist im Stress.
Chuck: “Everyone’s under stress.”
Judith: Doch Major Tom macht einen Scherz.
Chuck: “Yeah, Major Tom makes a joke” or “tells a joke”.
Judith: Not “yeah, Major Tom”. “But”. Doch is always opposing. In German we always use “but” in a lot of cases, even when in English you would just drop it, but we like to show all our statements in contrast to each other. “But”, doch, aber, jedoch and so on.
Chuck: Ok.
Judith: Dann hebt er ab und...
Chuck: “Then he launched”?
Judith: Yeah, takes off.
Chuck: Yeah.
Judith: And now the chorus. Völlig losgelöst von der Erde.
Chuck: “Completely left the earth”.
Judith: Losgelöst. Loslösen is “to remove all ties to”. So “completely left”, can you say that? Cut loose.
Chuck: Yeah, cut loose is good.
Judith: “Completely cut loose from the earth”. Schwebt das Raumschiff völlig schwerelos.
Chuck: Schwebt is like “hover”?
Judith: Yes.
Chuck: So “The spaceships hovers completely weightless”
Judith: Yes, wow! Die Erdanziehungskraft ist überwunden.
Chuck: Erdanziehungskraft. You have to love those German words.
Judith: Well…
Chuck: Erde I know, that’s “earth”.
Judith: Yeah, and anziehen?
Chuck: “To put on?”
Judith: “To attract”. Yeah, it can also mean “to put on” in terms of clothing but anziehen, like between magnets, is “to attract”.
Chuck: Ok.
Judith: And Kraft is “power”, so can you guess what this power is?
Chuck: Gravity?
Judith: Yes, gravity.
Chuck: Why don’t you just say like Gravität or something?
Judith: We do that with enough terminology, we just borrow from English or Latin, but in this case we actually have a German word and is very descriptive. “Gravity” you don’t know, gravity, there’s no other English word that’s related so you could guess what it means but…
Chuck: It’s not really like a cavity so…
Judith: Can you see what I mean? So die Erdanziehungskraft ist überwunden.
Chuck: So “The gravity is overcome”?
Judith: Alles läuft perfekt. Schon seit Stunden.
Chuck: “Everything’s running perfectly for several hours now.”
Judith: Wissenschaftliche Experimente.
Chuck: “Scientific experiments.”
Judith: And this is a cut-off sentence because they don’t actually say what’s up with them. I imagine they are getting done. Doch was nutzen die am Ende, denkt sich Major Tom.
Chuck: “But what will they use at the end?”
Judith: “What will they be good for?”
Chuck: Ah, “thinks Major Tom”.
Judith: Im Kontrollzentrum, da wird man panisch.
Chuck: “In the control center there’s a panic.”
Judith: “People getting panic-y.” Der Kurs der Kapsel stimmt ja gar nicht.
Chuck: “The course of the capsule is completely not right.”
Judith: You’re getting good at translating these things.
Chuck: No, I think you just picked an easy text this time.
Judith: I don’t this text is so easy. There’s a lot of space vocabulary in it and…
Chuck: Yeah, there’s a lot of words that look the same as English.
Judith: Maybe. Anyway, I'm impressed with your translating in this song.
Chuck: Yay! I get a cookie afterwards, right?
Judith: We’ll see. Hallo Major Tom, können Sie hören?
Chuck: “Hello, Major Tom? Can you hear me?” Or “can you hear”, really.
Judith: Yeah. Wollen Sie das Projekt denn so zerstören?
Chuck: “Do you want to destroy the project?”
Judith: “Like this”, so. I think in the last lesson we already had a discussion on how to translate so. Doch er kann nichts hören.
Chuck: “But he can’t hear.”
Judith: Er schwebt weiter.
Chuck: “He hovers more”? “He cruises more…”
Judith: “He hovers farther”, just keeps floating or hovering.
Chuck: Ah yeah, float is good here. “He keeps floating.”
Judith: Ok, and then the chorus again and then… Die Erde schimmert blau. Sein letzter Funk kommt.
Chuck: “The earth shines blue”?
Judith: Or “shimmers”?
Chuck: Yeah. “Its last” Funk, “radio”?
Judith: Yeah.
Chuck: “Last radio comes…”
Judith: “His”, not “its”, but that’s a matter of interpretation because it’s the same word in German. It is always sein no matter whether it relates to es or to er.
Chuck: I think it means “its”.
Judith: No, from the context it’s clear cause he says Grüßt mir meine Frau.
Chuck: Oh, good point. Guess you get me this time.
Judith: Translate?
Chuck: Yeah, yeah, I'm getting there. Give me a second. Takes me a while to realize I'm wrong about something. Alright. “My wife greets me…”
Judith: No. Grüßt mir meine Frau. it’s a request, imperative.
Chuck: “Greet my wife”?
Judith: “From me” this mir implies.
Chuck: Ah ok, “Say hi to my wife for me”.
Judith: Yeah. Und er verstummt.
Chuck: “He stutters”?
Judith: No. Stumm is “mute” so verstummen is “go mute” here. Unten trauern noch die Egoisten.
Chuck: “Back down on earth, the egoists still dream.”
Judith: No, not “dream”. Trauern.
Chuck: Ah, right. “Are sad”.
Judith: “Mourning”.
Chuck: “Mourning”, yeah.
Judith: Major Tom denkt sich, wenn die wüssten.
Chuck: “Major Tom thinks to himself if they become a desert”?
Judith: “If they knew”, “if only they knew”.
Chuck: Ah, right. It’s not Wüste it’s wüsste.
Judith: Yeah, it’s one of those vowel changing verbs. Wissen and suddenly you have something wüssten, it’s not immediately obvious that’s related.
Chuck: They didn’t think so, it doesn’t make sense.
Judith: Yeah, Wüste with one S is “desert”, that is right. Mich führt hier ein Licht durch das All.
Chuck: “A light guides me through everything?”
Judith: No, “through space”. Das All.
Chuck: Ah, das All is another word.
Judith: Yeah, has no relation to alle that I know of. Das All is simply “space”.
Chuck: Alright.
Judith: So “the light is guiding me through space”. Das kennt ihr noch nicht.
Chuck: “You all still don’t know…”
Judith: “You all still don’t know it.” Ich komme bald.
Chuck: “I'm coming soon.”
Judith: Mir wird kalt.
Chuck: “I'm getting cold.”
Judith: And then the chorus and that’s it.
Chuck: Ok. I'm sad.
Judith: The chorus is actually sung several times. At the end there is a nice melodic part and that’s the part that really stays in memory. Now I believe that you have been questioning the existence of a German space program. No, space is not limited to Americans and Russians.
Chuck: I thought we bought it all.
Judith: Germany has contributed a lot to space research. Well, first of all, a lot of the engineers are Germans. They played an important role in the conception of rockets and space vehicles and also with the theory of it. And there’s one thing – when I was researching this lesson I learned that already in the 1500s there was a German visionary who described the function of a rocket, how it would function and described different types of rockets, including this rocket with several phases that is currently so popular today.
Chuck: And then America bought all of his ideas back in the 1500s, I'm sure.
Judith: Now the thing is that his works were not found again after the 1500s until 1960 something, so I think, at that point, the US, they already had figured out how to do a multiphase rocket.
Chuck: Ok.
Judith: A lot of Germans also worked in the American space program, scientists or engineer, especially during and after the second world war there was an exodus from Germany to the States, and this really helped the Americans space program. A couple of them also went and worked for the Russian space program, so we can claim a share of both sides’ achievements in that sense. And starting 1964, however, Germany along with other European nations decided to develop an own space program so that they could explore space independent of the USA or the Soviet Union. And it was mostly Germany and France, the main contributors, but also Britain, Italy and other members. And now there’s a lot more involvement than in the early stages, and the European Union is coordinating its base activities. And they founded the European Space agency for this purpose. And Germany contributes a fourth of the funding for this space agency, so you can imagine we’re really involved also in the training and everything. The agency has several major offices in Germany and training facilities.
Chuck: You launch the rockets directly from Germany then? Where’s that?
Judith: No. The rockets are typically launched from French Guiana, you know this jungle near Venezuela on the South American coast? I hear that to launch a rocket is particularly good if you’re near the Ecuador so that you can maximize on the Earth’s movement and use it to pull your rockets, give them a speed boost.
Chuck: Alright.
Judith: I'm not quite entirely sure how it works because I'm not a rocket scientist but reason.
Chuck: I'm sure all of our rocket scientist listeners can write in with a comment on how it works.
Judith: Anyway, so that’s where all the European rockets get launched, distributing new satellites or whatever. And, of course, Germany’s also part of the missions to the international space station, the ISS, and before that. And, in fact, the first non-American to fly on an American space shuttle was also German. He flew on the Colombia, Ulf Merbold was his name. He was a Western German who flew on this space shuttle in 1983. The first German in space, however, was not this Ulf Merbold but Sigmund Jähn, and he was an East German, and he traveled aboard a Soviet space craft in 1978. And of course since those two there have been a lot of others. Germany is quite involved.
Chuck: Alright, well, I stand corrected.

Lesson focus

Judith: So let’s do some grammar today. In the last lesson we already talked about the past participle and we learned how regular verbs, vowel changing verbs and a few crucial irregular verbs form it. But what we haven’t covered so far is verbs with a prefix, particularly if it’s a prefix that splits off, you know these annoying German verbs that have the habit of splitting in the middle somewhere.
Chuck: Oh yeah, I know all about those.
Judith: Ok, if you know all about those then how would you explain the rules to us? What happens to them if you want to make a past participle?
Chuck: You stick ge in the middle of them.
Judith: Yes, that summarizes it really nicely. You know, the ge, the GE that we talked about last lesson already, that normally goes to the front of the verb? For these verbs it actually goes in the middle, right between the splitting off part and the rest of the verb. So let’s have some examples. So in the song, for example, we saw the verb durchchecken. “To check through”, can you say that even?
Chuck: Yeah, I think so.
Judith: So durchchecken, for example in the present tense er checkt durch and that would mean the past participle becomes durchgecheckt, with a ge in the middle but one word. Now let’s have some more common verbs. For example, ansehen. Ansehen, third person singular, present tense is er sieht an with a vowel change. And you know from last lesson that the vowel changing verbs always use the infinitive and not the third person form. So in this case it is angesehen. Ansehen.
Chuck: To look at.
Judith: Angesehen.
Chuck: Looked at.
Judith: Yes. And one verb that is irregular would be gehen, and so we have mitgehen.
Chuck: To go with.
Judith: The present tense form would be er geht mit.
Chuck: He goes with.
Judith: But that has no relevance because it’s irregular so you are actually basing the form on the participle for gehen alone. And for gehen alone it is gegangen, so mitgehen does mitgegangen.
Chuck: Gone with.
Judith: So this last example actually demonstrates that no matter what the prefix is that an irregular verb receives, the irregular stems will always be the same, so you don’t have to learn them all over again. You don’t have to learn separate stems for mitgehen, weggehen, hingehen and so on. It’s always the ones that you’re already using for gehen. Now there’s one final rule for past participles before we’re through and that is for verbs with a prefix that does not split off. These verbs, for example, übersehen.
Chuck: To overlook.
Judith: Übersehen, the participle’s actually übersehen because these verbs that have a staying prefix, they will just not use the ge at all. They just stay the same, well, they don’t stay the same, they apply the other rule about using third person or infinitive form. So some more examples, beachten. Beachten and that means you Chuck, don’t dose off here?
Chuck: I mean to pay attention. To pay attention.
Judith: So beachten does er beachtet.
Chuck: He pays attention.
Judith: Which cannot be said of Chuck, and the participle would be beachtet.
Chuck: Paid attention.
Judith: Yes. Now, übersehen we have already done, so vowel changing, still the same rule, and an irregular form, for example, based on überwinden.
Chuck: Overcome.
Judith: Yes, “to overcome”. Er überwindet.
Chuck: He overcomes.
Judith: And the participle’s actually überwunden. And that’s all there is to know about German participles.
Chuck: Cool. And next week I think we should take a bit of a break from grammar. I’d say discuss some German hip hop cause I'm in the mood for it.
Judith: Sure, we can do that but very soon we’ll be back and talking about tenses that use German participles.
Chuck: So you better make sure that you know how participles work by then or you’re not going to hear any hip hop from us.
Judith: You can do the exercises in the Learning Center or maybe reread the grammar summaries for this lesson and the previous one.
Chuck: Participles aren’t particularly difficult but it will take some practice until you can just say them naturally.
Judith: At least that is one chapter that you have internalised really well, Chuck.
Chuck: Are you implying my German isn’t very good?
Judith: Bis nächste Woche.


Chuck: Wait, you didnt answer my question. What are you telling me to try to … ok … see you next week.


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Wednesday at 06:30 PM
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Wie findet ihr diese Lieder, die Vokabeln aus einem bestimmten Bereich lehren? Also hier z. B. Vokabeln aus der Raumfahrt, und in "Indianer" Vokabeln aus Western...

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Sunday at 05:14 AM
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Hallo robert groulx,

Danke schön for taking the time to leave us a comment. 😇

Let us know if you have any questions.

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robert groulx
Tuesday at 11:33 PM
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thank you for the lesson

favorite words are Das kennt ihr noch nicht.


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Keith Goodenough
Thursday at 02:22 AM
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Cannot add Lesson 7 to my dashboard, and report a problem does not work.


Wednesday at 09:49 PM
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I think already is a good translation for "schon". You said "schon" and past tense is doppelt gemoppelt. Not really because you wouldn't have expected it to be already over. So the schon states the surprise that it's already in the past. (Maybe Germans are just more surprised at things than english speakers are.)

In the lyrics you quoted the speaker says that something was told with anger but it doesn't have an influence on the present because it's schon (already) in the past. So you would expect something from the (recent) past to have influence on the present but to tell that it isn't so you use schon to indicate the flying of time. And when time flies the recent past is not that important since your present will become the recent past soon. It's like a fast forward on the track of time. Just think of a movie you play in fast forward. a normal minute in a movie is pretty close to your present but when you fast forward in a minute you have seen half the movie already, so a minute ago you were at the beginning but since you're in the middle of the movie the beginning seems further away then a normal movie minute.

(I hope that wasn't too complicated)

Es ist ja kalt = "oh I didn't notice it's cold"

Es ist aber kalt = "it's not only cold! I am freezing!"

Es ist schon kalt = "oh it's already cold"

Friday at 01:33 PM
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I have enjoyed the intermediate lessons thoroughly. Though my German is somewhat better than than Chuck's, I've enjoyed Chuck's translation endeavors, which are occassionally better than mine because Chuck is freer in this translations - I'm often too literal. (Perhaps Chuck is having a bit of fun with us. Is he pretending a bit, playing Costello to Judith's Abbott?

But Chuck, please stop whining about the grammar, or listeners will believe you. IMHO die Grammatik is the key to insight into the German language. Endings are THE key to understanding the logic of the language. Your translations would be better if you would pay more attention to endings. as they indicate the function of the word in a sentence. I don't think it would be possible to overemphasize this, since German word order is markedly more flexible than English, and words often do not appear in the same order as in English, subject verb object, direct object (pronouns aside). It is very easy for native speakers of English to get things quite bollixed up. Watch the endings, and this won't happen nearly as often. I urge everyone, German is MARKEDLY less obscure if you give grammar the old college try. Yes, grammar is not as fun as launching headlong into a translation, but once you learn the grammar, you'll convince yourself it's an invaluable tool. Judith is right to have a grammar section in every lesson. In fact, I wish there would be more of it.

Judith: Ich danke Ihnen sehr! Ihre Erklaerungen sind wunderbar. Machen Sie diese weiter. Ihre Erklaerung von dieser Lektion ueber das Word ,,doch" war besonders hilfreich. Seit Jahren habe ich versucht das Wort ,,doch" besser zu verstehen. Ihre einleuchende Erklaerung dass ,,doch" immer gegensaetzlich ist, und die Beobachtung, dass die Deutschen ihre Ideen in Kontrast zu stellen moegen, war wie Sie haetten einen dicten Nebel weggenomen. "Ohhh!!! THAT's why!" Ich habe mir laut desagt. Vorher konnte ich nie verstehen, warum ,,doch" so haufig benutzt war. Sie haben mir einen wichtigen Schluessel gegeben.

Ich moechte Ihnen eine Idee anbeiten. Ich glaube, dass das wort ,,doch" existiert noch im Englischen. ,,Doch" wurde "though." Also, koennte man diese Saetze von dieser Lektion uebersetzen wie:

,,Jeder ist im Stress,Doch Major Tom macht einen Scherz." Everyone is stressed, though Major Tom makes a joke," und ,,Wissenschaftliche Experimente, doch was nutzen die am Ende denkt sich Major Tom." Scientific experiments -- "though of what use are they in the end," thinks Major Tom to himself.

I find "though" to be less abrupt than "but," and for that reason it often seems more natural in English. Yet while I have had success understanding "doch" better this way, I have always avoided using it myself, because I didn't understand this function as opposing or setting off an idea. You said in this lesson that doch is ALWAYS in opposition. Did you mean this literally? Is it always to contradict something, or to set off a previous statement" If so, doch becomes suddenly a much easier word to try to use.

I would really appreciate further explanation of these particle type words. Another one that drives me batty is "schon." Of course I understand it as "already," but German uses "schon" markedly more frequently than English uses already. I remember the prior song, ,,Kein zurueck" (or was it ,,Kein Weg zurueck". The lyric is

something like, ,,Etwas in Zorn gesagt, Das ist schon die Vergangenheit." Of course in English we would be unlikely to say "already" because everything that is history is already in the past and gone. In other words, saying ,,schon" and Vergangenheit seems to me rather doppelt gemopplet. Could you explain why ,,schon" is used so much? There must be some other purpose or function that I'm not understanding. When you get done with ..schon," then please explain ,,ja" and ,,aber" used as particles. Es ist ja kalt. Es ist aber kalt. Es ist schon kalt. These common words used this way are a mystery to me.

I suppose I'm going on too long, so forgive me. However, I felt I had to rhapsodize a bit about the wonderful explanations that Judith seems to give in every lesson, just tossing them off casually. These insights into the language are exciting to encounter. Please accept my sincere thanks, and my encouragement to do it more often.

Wednesday at 07:42 PM
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Das All comes from das Weltall (outer space). Maybe you won't confuse it with alle (all) if you remember that.

if you want to know more about the European Space Program you should look at the European Space Agency's activities. their homepage and ESA Homepage for Germany