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Lesson Transcript

Chuck: Chuck here, intermediate series season 3 lesson 14. Writing a letter in German.
Judith: Dear listeners.
Chuck: We are happy you tuned in.
Judith: Because in this lesson,
Chuck: You’ll learn how to write letters in German.
Judith: This conversation takes place at the office.
Chuck: The conversation is between Mrs. Byer and Mr. Jones.
Judith: The speakers are colleagues, therefore they’ll be speaking formal German.
Chuck: Let’s listen to the conversation. SO I think a good cultural point today will be how to write novels in German.
Bayer: Ah, hallo Herr Jones. Wie war das Mittagessen?
Jones: Hallo Frau Bayer. Das Essen war gut. Ich habe Roulade gegessen und mich gut mit Herrn Müller unterhalten. Wie war Ihre Mittagspause?
Bayer: Ach, ich hatte nur normales Kantinenessen, aber die Pause war trotzdem nett.
Jones: Herr Müller hat mir erzählt, dass wir bald neue Aufgaben bekommen.
Bayer: Oh, super. Da freue ich mich jetzt schon drauf!
Jones: Ich mich auch! Und was ist meine Aufgabe heute?
Bayer: Sehen Sie den Brief vor Ihnen? Bitte beantworten Sie die Anfrage des Kunden. Wenn Sie etwas nicht verstehen, fragen Sie mich einfach.
Jones: Okay, kein Problem.
Jones: Ähm, als Anrede benutzte ich doch „Sehr geehrte Frau…“, und dann der Name oder?
Bayer: Ja, genau. Und bei einem Mann schreibt man „Sehr geehrter Herr…“.
Jones: Ah, gut. Und wenn ich sagen will, dass ich auf den Brief von letzter Woche antworte?
Bayer: Dann schreiben Sie „Bezüglich Ihres Briefes vom…“ und dann kommt das Datum des Briefes.
Jones: Ah, danke. Das hört sich besser an als „Ich antworte auf Ihren Brief.“
Bayer: Ja … Briefe schreiben ist gar nicht so einfach!
Jones: Das stimmt!
Jones: So, und was schreibe ich am Ende der Nachricht?
Bayer: Ich benutze immer „Mit freundlichen Grüßen“ und darunter schreibe ich meinen Namen.
Jones: Gut, dann mache ich das auch so, aber natürlich mit meinem Namen!
Bayer: Ah, hello Mr Jones. How was your lunch?
Jones: Hello Mrs Bayer. The food was good. I ate roulades and I had a nice conversation with Mr Müller. How was your lunch break?
Bayer: Oh, I only had normal cafeteria food, but the break was nice anyway.
Jones: Mr Müller told me that we will soon get new tasks.
Bayer: Oh, great. I'm already looking forward to that!
Jones: Me too! And what is my task today?
Bayer: Do you see the letter in front of you? Please answer the customer's inquiry. If you don't understand something, just ask me.
Jones: Okay, no problem.
Jones: Ehm, as form of address I do use "Very honored madam..." and then the name, right?
Bayer: Yes, exactly. And for men you write "Very honored mister...".
Jones: Ah, good. And if I want to say that I am answering last week's letter?
Bayer: Then you write "Regarding your letter from" and then you put the date of the letter.
Jones: Ah, thanks. That sounds better than "I'm answering your letter"
Bayer: Yes, writing letters isn't easy at all.
Jones: That's right!
Jones: Okay, and what do I write at the end of the message?
Bayer: I always use "With friendly greetings" and under that I write my name.
Jones: Good. I should do that as well, but of course with my name.
Judith: No not novels. Just letters.
Chuck: Oh okay, I guess this isn’t the advanced series is it?
Judith: Even in the advanced series, who would want to write novels in German?
Chuck: You never know. I’m sure some of our germanpod101 listeners would like to try that.
Judith: Well about letters, the….
Chuck: Okay if you want to do that.
Judith: The phrases that we heard in this dialog are actually the perfect phrases to use in formal letters. You start off with [Sehr geehrte Frau x] or [Sehr geehrter Herr x] and you end with [Mit freundlichen Grüßen]. These phrases are so common and universally applicable that they don’t have any meaning of their own really so you don’t have to worry about picking the wrong form well, unless you are not sure if the addressee is a man or woman.
Chuck: I heard that [Mit freundlichen Grüßen] is so common that people abbreviate it sometimes as “mfg”
Judith: Yes but normally in a letter you shouldn’t write “mfg” it’s just some word you can type in some word processing software in order to get [Mit freundlichen Grüßen]
Chuck: Ah okay.
Judith: It’s a secretary shortcut.
Chuck: You also notice that if you are writing a professional letter, you definitely don’t want to use these phrases because that would be like telling your friends, you don’t want to be friends anymore, you just want to write them formal letters.
Judith: Yes, personal letters are a different matter entirely. For them you should probably start a letter to a friend with [Lieber] for a man or [Liebe] for a woman and then of course the name and [Lieber] and [Liebe] so it’s like saying “dear Tom” [Lieber Tom]
Chuck: Say if you are not quite comfortable with that you could also just say hello, couldn’t you?
Judith: Yes, it’s more and more common now with email and everything. At the end of the letter you have the choice between [Liebe Grüße] or [Viele Grüße]
Chuck: Does [Lieber Grüße] also change to [Lieber Grüße]
Judith: No, no because here is relating to [Liebe Grüße] to the greeting. It’s like dear greetings.
Chuck: Okay.
Judith: Assuming many greetings, but it’s just another way of ending formal letters. Note that there is also a [Freundliche Grüße], friendly greetings and this is reserved for formal letters that you don’t want to sound so formal or unimaginative, it’s the abbreviation of [Mit freundlichen Grüßen] you say [Mit freundlichen Gruß]. Don’t use that in your letters to friends.
Chuck: Oh there’s also many other ways to begin a ______ (0:03:00) letter. Could I tell them?
Judith: No, no. I think it’s actually not a good idea to learn those because it’s much easier to go wrong if you use other phrases. I wouldn’t use them as a foreigner.
Chuck: I guess unless you are a foreigner who’s writing novels in German right?
Judith: Yes, it’s an entirely different matter to find out which phrases you can use if you are not going with the standard ones. But if you go with the ones that I just gave you, you will never sound inappropriate.
Chuck: Oh there’s one more thing you should watch out for. When you are writing a German letter, and you say it like [Liebe Judith] like if you are writing us a German pod then your next sentence will start with a lower case letter, well just because it’s not really the next sentence. It’s just the next word even though continuing the sentence.
Judith: Yes I mean after [Liebe Judith, Lieber Chuck] you put a comma and that means that the sentence is not quite finished but I never understood why English puts a capital letter there.
Chuck: So I see these mistakes most of the time in both directions. English speakers writing German letters with the first letter capitalized and the other way around too. So just remember, when you are writing in German the sentence did end with that comma so you need the first letter to be lower case. I remember when I first came to Germany I was really surprised that I kept getting all these emails and they never capitalized the first letter after that. What are they all missing up here?!
Judith: Don’t make that mistake.
Chuck: Let’s take a look at the vocabulary for this lesson. The first word is;
Judith: [sich unterhalten]
Chuck: To have a conversation.
Judith: [sich unterhalten] the forms are [Er unerhält sich, Er unterhielt sich] and [Er hat sich unterhalten]
Chuck: Next.
Judith: [erzählen]
Chuck: To tell.
Judith: [erzählen] it’s a weak verb.
Chuck: Next.
Judith: [bekommen]
Chuck: To receive.
Judith: [bekommen] the forms are [Er bekommt, Er bekam, Er hat bekommen]
Chuck: Next.
Judith: [sich freuen]
Chuck: To be happy.
Judith: [sich freuen] another weak verb.
Chuck: Next.
Judith: [beantworten]
Chuck: To answer.
Judith: [beantworten] another weak verb.
Chuck: Next.
Judith: [Anfrage]
Chuck: Inquiry.
Judith: [Anfrage] and the plural is [die Anfrage]
Chuck: Next.
Judith: [Anrede]
Chuck: Form of address.
Judith: [Anrede] this word is feminine and the plural is [Anreden]
Chuck: Next.
Judith: [ehren]
Chuck: To honor.
Judith: [ehren]
Chuck: Next.
Judith: [bezüglich]
Chuck: Regarding or relating to.
Judith: [bezüglich]
Chuck: Next.
Judith: [Datum]
Chuck: Date.
Judith: [Datum, das] and the plural is [Daten]
Chuck: Next.
Judith: [Gruß]
Chuck: Reading.
Judith: [Gruß, der] and the plural is [Grüße]
Chuck: Let’s have a closer look for the usage of some of the words and phrases from this lesson.
Judith: The first word is [bekommen]
Chuck: To receive.
Judith: Do not confuse this with “to become”.
Chuck: Hey wait. I know, that’s what the Germans say “I want to become a beefsteak” something isn’t it? I want to become a beef steak.
Judith: Yes. [Ich bekomme ein Beefsteak]. Okay another word you should pay attention to is [sich freuen]
Chuck: To be happy.
Judith: Yes, [sich freuen] is to be happy but [sich auf etwas freuen]
Chuck: To look forward to something.
Judith: Yes you got it.
Chuck: Hahaha I am awake today.
Judith: And finally in the dialog we had [geehrt].
Chuck: Honored.
Judith: This is the participle of [ehren]. [Sehr geehrter Herr] is just a polite phrase though. Very honored sir or very honored mister.
Chuck: And always remember to put the [Herr] at the “r” at the end of [geehrter] and with [Frau] you just put [geehrte] without the “r” at the end.
Judith: Yes.
Chuck: It’s very important.
Judith: Same rule as for all adjectives.

Lesson focus

Chuck: The focus of this lesson is the genitive singular.
Judith: The genitive is typically used to show possession.
Chuck: For example the man’s name
Judith: [Der Name des Mannes]
Chuck: Note that the genitive noun which in English comes first comes afterwards in German.
Judith: And we are drawing on the concept of key endings again. The key ending for genitive singular is “es”. You will find it in various forms for masculine and neutral nouns for example, the definite article is [des] and the indefinite article is [eines] for genitive singular for masculine and neutral nouns. Since the key ending is already present in the article, the adjective then only takes the bland “en” ending but some nouns also add “s” or “es”.
Chuck: What’s an example of that?
Judith: I’ll give you several examples. [des Mannes, des guten Mannes, eines Mannes, des Mannes, eines Kindes, des guten Kindes] you see the “es” is very prominent but for the feminine nouns, you don’t see any “es” anywhere. The nouns don’t change and the articles both end in “r”. They are [der] and [einer] and the adjectives just take the bland “en” ending. So we get [der guten Frau] or [einer guten Frau]
Chuck: But be aware that the genitive is slowly going out of use.
Judith: Yes people are more likely to say [Der Name von dem Mann] instead of [der Name des Mannes] especially in spoken German.
Chuck: Also the prepositions that traditionally take the genitives such as [während] during and [wegen] because of increasingly use the dative noun.
Judith: The genitive is slowly being replaced by the dative everywhere except in set phrases.
Chuck: This is especially true for the spoken language. In written German, the genitive can still be found more often and German teachers may get angry at you for evading the genitive in writing.
Judith: Oh yes.
Chuck: But for those board game fans out there, you might have already come across one of these phrases very, very early [Spiel des Jahres].
Judith: figure statement that one.


Chuck: It’s either that way early, “game of the year” and I had no clue how that thing was sitting together till way later. But now you do, so that just about does it for today. Okay some of our listeners already know about some of the most powerful tools in Germanpod101.com.
Judith: Line by line audio.
Chuck: The perfect tool for rapidly improving listening comprehension
Judith: By listening to lines of the conversation again and again.
Chuck: Listen until every word and syllable becomes clear basically write down the dialog into comprehensible bite size sentences
Judith: You can try the line by line audio in the premium learning center at germanpod101.com.
Chuck: So see you next week.
Judith: [Bis nächste Woche]!