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Lesson Transcript

Chuck: This is Intermediate Series Lesson 9.
Judith: Willkommen zurück.
Chuck: Welcome back for another Intermediate lesson. Judith told me that today’s song lends itself well to drinking, but she hasn’t told me exactly what song it is so I'm curious. What is it, Judith?
Judith: Today’s song is Dschingis Khan by the group Dschingis Khan.
Chuck: Hey, I know this song. Let’s see, last time I sang that I was… Yeah, I was doing karaoke in Tokyo with a bunch of Esperanto speakers there.
Judith: Wow, Tokyo, eh?
Chuck: Let’s see how that goes? Dsching, Dsching, Dschingis Khan, hee Reiter, ho Reiter, hee Reiter, immer weiter. Dsching, Dsching, Dschingis
Judith: Ok, that’s enough. That’s the right one.
Chuck: Khan. Guess I got a bit carried away there. It’s a fun song.
Judith: Yeah, and it’s a very popular German 80s band. They initially became famous with this very song because it was Germany’s contribution to the Eurovision song contest in 1978. It only made fourth place there but it spent four weeks in first place in the German music charts.
Chuck: Yeah, it’s quite silly but yeah, you’ll remember it. Yeah, you can even see the costumes that were on YouTube if you look carefully.
Judith: Dschingis Khan is known for their outrageous costumes. They had a couple more well-known songs after this one such as Moskau, Rom and Loreley but then they disbanded in 1985.
Chuck: Alright, enough talking. Let’s get to the song already. This one’s cool.
Judith: I'm going to read it completely once, alone, then we’ll go through it part by part with translations.
Chuck: I look forward to hearing you read this text. This should be funny.
Judith: I think I might skip on some of the “hey ho” parts.
Chuck: No, you have to. That’s the best part.
Judith: Keep in mind that you can also see a complete translation of this song in the PDF, and you can compare and contrast it with the German text there. Sie ritten um die Wette mit dem Steppenwind. Tausend Mann. Und einer ritt voran, dem folgten alle blind. Dschingis Khan. Die Hufe ihrer Pferde, die peitschten den Sand. Sie trugen Angst und Schrecken in jedes Land. Und weder Blitz noch Donner hielt sie auf. Dsching ...
Chuck: Yes, what were you about to say?
Judith: Dsching, Dsching, Dschingis Khan.
Chuck: Hey, come on, sing it.
Judith: No, you sing it.
Chuck: I already sang it.
Judith: Ok, so let’s skip this part because you already sang it.
Chuck: No, no, no, no, no.
Judith: And then it says Auf, Brüder, sauft, Brüder, rauft, Brüder, immer wieder. Lasst noch Vodka holen, denn wir sind Mongolen.
Chuck: Hey, you missed a part.
Judith: I'm not going to say “ho ho ho, ha ha ha”.
Chuck: You just did.
Judith: Und der Teufel kriegt uns früh genug. Dsching, Dsching, Dschingis Khan, hee Reiter, ho Reiter, hee Reiter, immer weiter. Dsching, Dsching, Dschingis Khan, hee Männer, ho Männer, tanzt Männer, so wie immer. Und man hört ihn lachen.
Chuck: Hohohoho.
Judith: Immer lauter lachen.
Chuck: Hahahaha.
Judith: Und er leert den Krug mit einem Zug. Und jedes Weib, das ihm gefiel, das nahm er sich in sein Zelt. Es hieß, die Frau, die ihn nicht liebte, gab es nicht auf der Welt. Er zeugte sieben Kinder in einer Nacht und über seine Feinde hat er nur gelacht. Denn seiner Macht konnte keiner widerstehen. And then the chorus again.
Chuck: The chorus again?
Judith: No. Let’s do the translation. I want to see you work for a change. Sie ritten um die Wette mit dem Steppenwind. Tausend Mann.
Chuck: Ok, sie ritten, so “ride, rode”.
Judith: Yeah, “they rode”.
Chuck: Ok. Um die Wette?
Judith: Um die Wette is “around the bet”, but you can’t translate it like this, it’s an expression. “They rode a race”, they were riding competitively.
Chuck: “With the stepping wind”?
Judith: “Steppe” is a kind of landscape.
Chuck: What’s Steppenwind then?
Judith: That’s the wind that’s blowing in this terrain.
Chuck: “A thousand men”?
Judith: Yes. Und einer ritt voran, dem folgten alle blind. Dschingis Khan.
Chuck: So “One’s riding ahead and everyone else follows him blindly. Dschingis Khan.”
Judith: That’s how you call him in English?
Chuck: Yeah.
Judith: Die Hufe ihrer Pferde, die peitschten den Sand.
Chuck: Wow. The Hufe, is that hooves?
Judith: Hooves, yeah.
Chuck: Hey, I got one. “The horse’s hooves, die peitschten”?
Judith: Peitschten.
Chuck: Peitschten. That’s five consonants in a row. What are you people doing? You’re trying to become a Slavic language?
Judith: Three of them are just a normal sch sound. The verb is peitschen, “to whip”, and this is the past tense which requires the te ending.
Chuck: Ok, “They whip the sand”.
Judith: Sie trugen Angst und Schrecken in jedes Land.
Chuck: Trugen, “trick”?
Judith: No, trugen is past tense of tragen.
Chuck: Sometime I should learn the past tense forms of these words.
Judith: Yes, you should.
Chuck: “They carry angst”?
Judith: “They carried fear”.
Chuck: A fear, yes. It’s a false friend.
Judith: Fear and Schrecken, “fright”. In jedes Land.
Chuck: “In every country.”
Judith: “Into every country.” Und weder Blitz noch Donner hielt sie auf.
Chuck: “And every lightning after thunder…”
Judith: No, weder noch, “neither nor”.
Chuck: “And neither thunder nor lightning will keep them away”?
Judith: “Would stop them”, aufhalten.
Chuck: Ah, ok. Man, who thought this drinking song with all this difficult vocabulary?
Judith: It’s not difficult for Germans. Every German will understand it without having to consult a dictionary.
Chuck: Alright.
Judith: Ok, the chorus, the one that you already sang is Dsching, Dsching, Dschingis Khan, hee Reiter, ho Reiter, hee Reiter, immer weiter.
Chuck: So I think the first will be translated as “Gen, Gen, Genghis Khan, hey, rider, ho, rider, hey, rider, keep on going”.
Judith: Dsching, Dsching, Dschingis Khan, auf, Brüder, sauft, Brüder, rauft, Brüder, immer wieder.
Chuck: Dsching, Dsching, Dschingis Khan, “Up, brothers”, sauft is…
Judith: “Guzzle”. Saufen is how an animal would drink, but in German it’s also used for just drink a lot or drink in a sloppy way, particularly when it comes to alcohol so “to guzzle”.
Chuck: Alright. Rauft.
Judith: Raufen is “to brawl”.
Chuck: Ok.
Judith: So he’s inviting them to drink a lot of alcohol and to brawl.
Chuck: Get in a brawl, yeah.
Judith: Immer wieder.
Chuck: “Always again”.
Judith: “Again and again”. Lasst noch Vodka holen. Hohohoho. Denn wir sind Mongolen. Hahahaha.
Chuck: “Let’s get some vodka”?
Judith: Yeah, “more vodka”, noch.
Chuck: Ah, yeah.
Judith: Denn wir sind Mongolen.
Chuck: “Then we’re Mongolians”.
Judith: “Because”.
Chuck: Ah, that’s the other false friend. You’re just trying to trick me today.
Judith: It’s the song, you wanted a drinking song. Und der Teufel kriegt uns noch früh genug.
Chuck: “And the devil will take us early enough.”
Judith: Ok, repetition. Dsching, Dsching, Dschingis Khan, hee Reiter, ho Reiter, hee Reiter, immer weiter. And then Dsching, Dsching, Dschingis Khan, hee Männer, ho Männer, tanzt Männer, so wie immer.
Chuck: “Hey, men, ho, men, the men dance just like always”.
Judith: “Dance!” as an imperative.
Chuck: Ah.
Judith: All of this is imperative like rauft and sauft and… tanzt Männer, so wie immer, “dance like always”. Und man hört ihn lachen.
Chuck: “And one heard him laugh.” You forgot the ho ho ho ho part.
Judith: Immer lauter lachen.
Chuck: Ok, ok, ok. “Always laughing louder.”
Judith: Yeah, “laughing louder and louder” this immer makes it “louder and louder”.
Chuck: So like ha ha ha ha.
Judith: Und er leert den Krug mit einem Zug.
Chuck: “And he empties his” Krug is like “his cup”?
Judith: “Mug” or “jug”, a big thing. A Krug has to be made of clay or something like that, not glass.
Chuck: Ok.
Judith: Mit einem Zug.
Chuck: “With one turn”?
Judith: Yeah, that’s the literal. It means all at once, he drinks it all at once.
Chuck: Oh, like saying, “Bottoms up!”
Judith: Yeah.
Chuck: Ok.
Judith: How would you translate this whole line again as a summary? Und er leert den Krug mit einem Zug.
Chuck: “He empties his mug all at once.”
Judith: Und jedes Weib, das ihm gefiel, das nahm er sich in sein Zelt.
Chuck: Weib is… is that short for weiblich?
Judith: It’s the same root. Weib is an old word for “woman”. Nowadays, if it’s derogatory. So it’s ok if you see it in an old text, but you shouldn’t be using this word.
Chuck: Ok. Das ihm gefiel. “That he like”? “And every broad – I guess you’d say – and every broad that he likes, he takes her into his Zelt?”
Judith: “Tent”.
Chuck: “Tent”, ok.
Judith: Es hieß, die Frau, die ihn nicht liebte, gab es nicht auf der Welt. Es hieß “it was said…”
Chuck: Ok. “It was said the woman that he doesn’t love…”
Judith: No, “that didn’t love him”.
Chuck: Ah, “don’t exist in the world”.
Judith: So like every woman loves him. Er zeugte sieben Kinder in einer Nacht.
Chuck: “He made seven kids”?
Judith: Yeah. Zeugen can mean “to testify” but to can also mean “to conceive”.
Chuck: “In one night”.
Judith: Und über seine Feinde hat er nur gelacht.
Chuck: “And he just laughed about his enemies.”
Judith: Denn seiner Macht konnte keiner widerstehen.
Chuck: “Then no one could resist his power.”
Judith: “Because no one could resist his power.” You should learn this one world. I correct this so many times.
Chuck: I'm just making sure our listeners learn this error. It’s not me making it.
Judith: Yeah, right. Anyway and then there’s the chorus again and that’s the whole song. It’s not a very complex song, only two stanzas and twice the chorus. Well, that’s why it’s good for drinking.
Chuck: And apparently also good for Japanese karaoke, which probably also includes drinking, actually.
Judith: It’s just everybody knows this song or should know this song. Ok, for cultural section I thought we might talk about German Dschingis Khan, well, not quite, but a German conqueror, and particularly Friedrich der Große.
Chuck: In English that’s Friedrich The Great, isn’t it?
Judith: Yes. How much do you know about him, actually?
Chuck: I think I just told you everything I know about him. I think I was sleeping during those classes in history.
Judith: Yeah. I'm not sure how often he would come up in an American history class, but that’s what we are for because in Germany you just have to know this reference.
Chuck: I'm sure in American history class he’d be presented in a very boring way. I hope you can do better.
Judith: I’ll try.
Chuck: Alright.
Judith: So Friedrich der Große is actually one of the most memorable and popular German kings, well, I should say Prussian kings because Germany wasn’t united yet. And he lived from 1740 to 1786 and he was affectionately called “Der alte Fritz”, “The Old Fritz”, and he’s the only German ruler that has a kind of nickname, especially an affectionate one, so he was very special. There’re several things that actually. One is that he was just a very good leader, for example when he took office Prussia was just a collection of weak and scattered territories, not even linked together, and when he died Prussia was a European great power. Friedrich had reunited it, expended it, modernized it and also greatly improved the economy. You know, Germany was just recovering from the seven-years war, and he really, really managed to get the country back up really quickly.
Chuck: Did he actually fight in the wars too?
Judith: Yes, he was a warrior. He personally led his armies into battle. I hear he had his horse shot from under him six times.
Chuck: Wow.
Judith: So you can imagine he wasn’t just somewhere in the back either, he was actually there where the harm is done. But what I really admire about him is that he was not just a warrior. I mean he was a good musician, he composed many sonatas and four symphonies. He spoke eight foreign languages - can you imagine that? He’s a guy to my liking. He corresponded with Voltaire and he invited many great thinkers to see him and stay in Berlin, and they were actually able to publish works in his Prussia that they wouldn’t have been able to publish in other places because it was revolutionary nature. But when it’s said that Friedrich der Große was actually a free mason or sympathized with the free masons and other movements - kind of weird for a king.
Chuck: He sounds like a pretty cool guy actually.
Judith: Yeah, and he also did a great contribution to the architecture in Berlin. Some of the most magnificent building there were built by him or for him. And, of course, there was his summer residence in Potsdam, which is really beautiful, it’s the palace of Sans Souci. It’s worth a visit if you have some more time in Berlin, it’s just a short way. The Sans Souci, this palace, is the most important work of Northern German Rokoko, that’s an art movement. And what I also like is that Friedrich was very tolerant for his time. For example, he invited the prosecuted minorities from other European countries to settle in his Prussia. For example, the Jesuits, the French Huguenots and the Spanish Jews. He even wrote that he’d accept Muslim Turks wanting to settle in Prussia, and that he would build mosques for them if they should want to do so. Though, you must imagine, less than a century ago the Turks had been trying to conquer Europe and they were certainly not popular, so that’s a very modern attitude. Of course, he would still be considered backwards today but for his time it was really amazing what kind of tolerance he had. And he was also very lucky.
Chuck: How so?
Judith: It’s this incident called “The miracle of the house of Brandenburg”. At one point, Russian troops were occupying the capital of Berlin and the Prussian army was too decimated to do much about it. But then the Russian empress, Elizabeth, died and the new tsar, Peter the third, was so pro German that he withdrew all Russian troops without securing any kind of advantage for Russia.
Chuck: That’s pretty amazing.
Judith: So you can imagine… He basically had Prussia and then the Russians just withdrew. So that’s “the miracle of the house of Brandenburg”.
Chuck: So why don’t they teach this interesting stuff in the history classes?
Judith: I don't know. Well, maybe it should’ve come up talking about the last days of Hitler because I think Hitler was hoping for a similar miracle with the allied already in Berlin. Maybe he thought that Churchill will die and his successor has had a quarrel with the Russians. I don't know what he was hoping for but… But the Nazis generally tried to shape this Prussia, and especially Friedrich the Great, they tried to shape how he’s viewed by the country and tried to make him look like the first Nazi, when actually he was so very tolerant, there was actually no parallel, that… Yeah, so this is one of the reasons why in Germany you won’t hear too, too much about the Prussian history.
Chuck: So if you’re taking history class right now, you should let your professor or teacher hear this so he can find out how to really teach a history lesson. Even I found this interesting.

Lesson focus

Judith: I'm glad you did. History is one of my favorite subjects so I hope I can talk about it without boring people. Now, for today’s grammar in this song… Well, I saw a lot of plural forms so how about we go and talk about the ways forming the plural? Of course it would just be a revision for most of you, but yeah, let’s just look at them as a summary. So, in this song, we saw for example the words Reiter and Brüder. These are words that don’t change or that just add an Umlaut because Reiter, the plural, is Reiter and Bruder, the plural is Brüder. So this group that they belong to. Basically covers all nouns ending in ER, EN or EL. All of these nouns don’t change or just add an Umlaut. Then the second group that we saw in this song is the one of nouns that just add E and potentially an Umlaut again. In the song we had the examples of Hufe.
Chuck: Hooves.
Judith: Pferde.
Chuck: Horses.
Judith: And Feinde.
Chuck: Enemies.
Judith: So Huf turns into Hufe, Pferd turns into Pferde, and Feind turns into Feinde. It’s just the addition of an E. this would apply to most masculine or neuter nouns, so very many German nouns. And then for feminine nouns… feminine nouns would usually add N or EN. In this text we just had one example that is Mongolen. Mongole, “Mongolian” and Mongolen, “Mongolians”. This word is actually not feminine but actually the whole group consists not only of feminine nouns but also many foreign words, and all masculine nouns ending in E and all masculine nouns describing a living being. So this would be the last category, well, the last two categories – it ends in E and it describes a living being. So this very big group adds N or EN. And the final group are the ones that add ER and possibly an Umlaut again. Those would be represented by the words Kinder.
Chuck: Kids.
Judith: And Männer.
Chuck: Men.
Judith: In the song. And now, for these there’s not really a rule. It’s basically the leftovers, some masculine or neuter nouns that go like this.
Chuck: Ok, so that’s all you need to know about German plurals. It’s actually a beginners topic so if you’re confident enough about this point then you can just dedicate your whole week to studying the German vocabulary from this song cause there was a whole lot of it.
Judith: In the PDF, in the Learning Center, you can find a list of useful words from this song.
Chuck: Like saufen, to guzzle booze. Well, I guess that’s what Oktoberfest is all about, right? I mean coming to Germany to drink lots and lots of beer. So get your ticket now, it starts on September 20th.
Judith: Come on, not everybody comes to Germany to drink alcohol. If you’re not a fan of excessive drinking, knowing the word saufen will still allow you to identify and avoid certain parties that are all about drinking.
Chuck: Or could also be useful if you go to the zoo and you see an animal drinking, right?
Judith: Yeah, but this is really the most common usage, saufen, “to drink alcohol in massive quantities”. If people say trinken when they’re talking about a party or the evening’ s activities then you know they will drink a little but if they say saufen they will drink excessively and you can avoid that if you are not in the mood.
Chuck: Alright. So like I said it is a useful word.


Judith: Ok. I think it is enough for today.
Chuck: Alright I hope you tune in again next week.
Judith: Bis nächste Woche!