Dialogue - Formal German

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Dialogue - Informal German

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Vocabulary

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gut good
auch also, too
Ihnen to you (formal)
und and
danke thanks
Wie geht es dir? How are you? (informal)
Frau Ms., woman
Herr Mister
Tag day
Auf Wiedersehen! Goodbye! See you!

Lesson Notes

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Grammar

PRONUNCIATION

Unlike English, German is spelled almost phonetically. This will be a huge advantage in your studies. First, however, you will need to get accustomed to the German pronunciation. Throughout this course, listen carefully to the dialogue and imagine yourself saying the phrases, maybe even play dialogues repeatedly and whisper along. If at all possible, get at least a basic membership in order to have access to the PDF transcript – this will immensely help you as you will then be able to read the dialogue while listening to it, matching letters and words to their sounds. You will notice that German uses one extra character (ß) and has unique markers which look like two dots appearing over some vowels (äöü).

VOWELS

Pay particular attention to vowels. One thing to note is that German vowels are pronounced much more clearly than English. There are also more vowel sounds than English, so that's why it's very important that you pronounce them clearly. Unlike English, try to maintain a constant pitch from start to finish without tapering off.

Some vowels, such as A, O, and U, can have two dots over them. We call these dots umlaute. They indicate a change in the original pronunciation of the vowel. Compare the following pairs of vowels:

  • aä
    a + e = ä (Äpfel = "apples") – it is pronounced like the “e” in “melon”
  • o, ö
    o + e = ö (Öl = "oil") – it is pronounced like the “I” in “girl”
  • u, ü
    u + e = ü (Hürde = "hurdle") – there's no direct equivalent

The vowels with the two dots over them are essentially a combination between the given vowel, and an E sound. Sometimes they're represented as AE, OE, or UE.

 

CONSONANTS

Now, let's take a look at German consonants. Like vowels, German consonants are predominantly similar to English. Other consonant sounds, however, may be a little more challenging.

Some consonants in German aren't actually pronounced as they look to an English speaker. Let's take a look at some of these letters.

The German V, isn't pronounced like an English V, but as an F sound. So both V and F in German, are pronounced as an F sound.

Vogel  “bird”, Fett “fat”

The German W, on the other hand, is pronounced like a V sound.

Wasser “water”, Wagen “car”

 

POLITENESS

Just like German, French, and Italian, German distinguishes between a formal and an informal way of addressing people, depending on how familiar you are with them. Here are the main differences between formal and informal language:

Situation Formal language Informal language
Saying names Use the last name Use the first name
Saying "you" Sie  (and derived forms like Ihnen) du  (and derived forms like dir)
Greeting when meeting

Guten Tag "good day"

Guten Morgen "good morning"

Guten Abend "good evening"

Hallo "Hey", "Hi"

Tach "day" 

n'Abend "d'evening"

Greeting when leaving Auf Wiedersehen  "till seeing-again" Tschüss "Bye"

Cultural Insights

Germans are very peculiar about wishing to show respect and to be shown respect when talking to others. That is why sometimes even people who have known each other for a long time use ‘formal’ language with each other – it is a sign of mutual respect, not of coldness.

Even kids were supposed to address their parents formally until about 100 years ago. While this is no longer the case, you should still watch out who you address how.

Generally, you should only use informal language with a new acquaintance if:

  • you are talking to somebody under 18
  • you and the person you’re talking with are both around student age
  • you and the person you’re talking with are relatives

In all other cases, you should wait till you are asked to switch to informal language – it’s up to the older person or the one higher in rank to decide this Your boss or teacher will certainly never ask you, as that would diminish his authority in the eyes of everybody. However, even regular acquaintances don’t switch to using first names nearly as quickly as they do in the USA. If you just start by addressing a stranger informally, he may feel offended as you seem to treat him like a child. That being said, as a foreigner you certainly have some leeway in case you should forget.

Grammar

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Below is a list of the grammar points introduced or used in this lesson. Click for a full explanation.

Höflichkeit auf Deutsch
Politeness in German
Introduced

Lesson Transcript

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INTRODUCTION
Judith: Hallo, ich heiße Judith.
Chuck: Hi I’m Chuck. This is Newbie series lesson number 1.
Judith: Sie hören GermanPod101.com.
Chuck: You’re listening to GermanPod101.com.
Judith: Willkommen.
Chuck: Welcome. I’m so excited.
Judith: Me too.
Chuck: I cannot believe we’re doing this. This is our very first lesson.
Judith: The first lesson that we record. And the first lesson of the newbie series on GermanPod101.com
Chuck: And this is the great timing to start learning German. I so wish I had this series when I started learning German.
Judith: The listeners don’t know you yet. Let’s introduce ourselves first. Mein name ist Judith Meyer. My name is Judith Meyer. And I’m a native German.
Chuck: My name is Chuck Smith. And I’m an American living in Germany. Together, we’re going to teach you everything you need to know about the German language and the culture, Conversation comprehension, vocabulary, usage, grammar, do and don'ts, you name it.
Judith: I’ll ensure that you’ll learn real German, not the dry text-book kind. But German as it`s spoken everyday, by almost one hundred million people.
Chuck: And I will draw on my experience to tell you about the quirky concepts and behaviors I’ve encountered here in Germany. I will also give you tips on how to learn German effectively. For example, one thing that I want to recommend right away, is that after you listen to one of our lessons, log into the learning center of GermanPod101.com, and test yourself and what you’ve learned.
Judith: Yes, this way, you’ll reinforced what you hear in the lesson. Also, the lesson transcripts are really useful, if you want to do a quick review.
Chuck: But for now, let’s get started with basics of German. The Newbie series is meant for people who have now prior knowledge of German, and who’d like to be conversational in German fast.
Judith: So let’s listen to our very first conversation.
Chuck: This conversation will teach you some basic phrases that you just have to know in German. Judith and I will take the parts of two German neighbors, who meet very briefly while going out. We’ll first read the dialogue in normal speed, to give you the first impression of how German sounds. Then we’ll read it slowly, and finally Judith will read it alone while I will translate for you.
Judith: Okay, let’s go.
DIALOGUE
Frau Höhne: Guten Tag, Herr Jäger!
Herr Jäger: Guten Tag, Frau Höhne!
Frau Höhne: Wie geht es Ihnen?
Herr Jäger: Gut, danke, und Ihnen?
Frau Höhne: Auch gut, danke.
Herr Jäger: Auf Wiedersehen!
Frau Höhne: Auf Wiedersehen!
Judith: One more time, a bit slower.
Frau Höhne: Guten Tag, Herr Jäger!
Herr Jäger: Guten Tag, Frau Höhne!
Frau Höhne: Wie geht es Ihnen?
Herr Jäger: Gut, danke, und Ihnen?
Frau Höhne: Auch gut, danke.
Herr Jäger: Auf Wiedersehen!
Frau Höhne: Auf Wiedersehen!
Judith: Now I will read it alone, while Chuck gives you the translation.
Frau Höhne: Guten Tag, Herr Jäger!
Ms Höhne: Good day, Mr Jäger!
Herr Jäger: Guten Tag, Frau Höhne!
Mr Jäger: Good day, Ms Höhne!
Frau Höhne: Wie geht es Ihnen?
Ms Höhne: How are you doing?
Herr Jäger: Gut, danke, und Ihnen?
Mr Jäger: Good, thank you, and you?
Frau Höhne: Auch gut, danke.
Ms Höhne: Also good, thanks.
Herr Jäger: Auf Wiedersehen!
Mr Jäger: Goodbye!
Frau Höhne: Auf Wiedersehen!
Ms Höhne: Goodbye!
POST CONVERSATION BANTER
Chuck: We said Herr Jäger and Frau Höhne are neighbors, so why are they addressing each other by their last names?
Judith: Well, for Germans it’s an issue of respect. Germans wish to show respect to everybody and to be showed respect, and formal language is an easy way of expressing that. For example, you won’t hear people introduce themselves as Tom very often, they will probably call themselves Herr Jäger or even Tom Jäger, and then you’re supposed to call them Herr Jäger. You should get used to addressing people by their last name, unless you want to make a major blunder. The formal Sie is also part of that.
Chuck: There’s sometimes when you can clearly get away with using the informal form, such as when talking with kids, I’d say until about 18 years old, relatives and students that you may know.
Judith: Especially when you’re both students, both of you, otherwise since they’re over 18 they might insist on the formal form.
Chuck: But cases when you clearly can’t use the informal form, as when talking to a boss, your friend’s parents, or even a friend that you meet in an official capacity like in a store.
Judith: Have you ever made the mistake of addressing somebody impolitely, Chuck
Chuck: Well, yeah, I have. But often people are understanding when they hear that you’re a native English speaker since English doesn’t have a formal form.
Judith: Yes, people usually forgive foreigners so you don’t need to be too worried, but try.
VOCAB LIST
Chuck: Now, let’s take a look at the words using this dialogue, and how they work together.
Judith: First, there was the greeting Guten Tag.
Chuck: This literally means “Good day” because gut or guten means “good” and Tag is “day.”
Judith: Guten Tag. “Good day.” It’s the most common form of greeting, and you will hear it used throughout the day. I will break it down. Tag. Guten. Guten Tag..
Chuck: “Good day.” Pay particular attention to the vowels, and the “T” sound.
Judith: Guten Tag. Guten Tag.. Practice saying it. Guten Tag..
Chuck: Guten Tag..
Judith: Okay. The next word is Herr.
Chuck: “Mister”
Judith: Herr
Chuck: “Mister”
Judith: This is one syllable only. Be very careful with the e sound. Herr. For example, we use the word Herr Jäger. “Mister Jäger.” Then the next word is Frau.
Chuck: “Mrs.”
Judith: Frau
Chuck: “Mrs.”
Judith: Actually, this could be “Miss” too, because in German, we don’t do the distinction. Frau.
Chuck: “Miss”
Judith: So, this is Frau. Whenever you see a German woman, it’s okay to call her Frau, and then use her last name of course. But Frau also means “woman,” it’s the word for “woman.”
Chuck: And it also means “wife.”
Judith: Yes, if you are referring to your woman, your wife, meine Frau, “my wife.” Now, the word Herr that we just learned, doesn’t have this extra connotation. It doesn’t mean “man.” It doesn’t mean “husband,” but it can mean “Lord” as in“God,” the Herr . Anyway. Next item. Wie geht es Ihnen?.
Chuck: “How are you?” This is a more formal form of saying “how are you?”
Judith: Yes, it’s the one that you should normally use with people that you don’t know that well.
Chuck: Unless I guess if you’re in a bar.
Judith: I don’t know. I’d still use the formal form. Wie geht es Ihnen? You have to learn this as a phrase, because the grammar behind this is really weird. See, Wie geht es Ihnen? literally translates to “How goes it to you?” And it’s just very weird. So you learn it as a phrase. Wie geht es Ihnen?. Then, there is Danke.
Chuck: “Thanks.”
Judith: Danke.
Chuck: “Thanks.”
Judith: I’ll break it down. Danke. Danke. Danke.. Say it too. This is really important for you to pronounce correctly.
Chuck: Danke
Judith: Danke. Now, the next word is und.
Chuck: What word does that sound like? It sounds like “and.”
Judith: That’s right. Und means “and.” und.
Chuck: Could you use that in a sentence?
Judith: Well, for example, you could say, Herr Jäger und Frau Höhne.. “Mister Jäger and Mrs. Höhne.” Or, you could use it in a little question. For example, somebody asked you, Wie geht es Ihnen? And you answer, Gut, danke.. “I’m good, thanks.” And now you want to know how they are doing. So you ask, Und Ihnen?. “And to you?” How goes it to you? And that brings us to the next word, which is Ihnen.
Chuck: “To you.”
Judith: “You,” the formal “you,” because in German there is a formal “you,” and an informal “you,” which we will learn in the later lesson. So this is the formal way. Und Ihnen?. The next word is auch.
Chuck: Means “also” or “too.”
Judith: Auch.
Chuck: “Also”
Judith: Be careful with the last sound of this word, the ch part. You will need to practice this a lot. Say it after me. Auch.
Chuck: Auch
Judith: Auch
Chuck: Auch
Judith: Okay. The last phrase for today is Auf Wiedersehen..
Chuck: “Goodbye.”
Judith: Auf Wiedersehen.
Chuck: “Goodbye.” This also literally means “until seeing again.”
Judith: I’ll break it down for you. Auf. Auf. Wieder. Wieder is “again.” Wieder. Sehen. Sehen is “to see.” Sehen. Wiedersehen. “Too see again.” Auf Wiedersehen. “Until seeing again.”
Chuck: Okay I’m gonna go slack off, Auf Wiedersehen!
Judith: Hey Chuck! Stay here! Wir sind noch nicht fertig! We’re not done yet, don’t say Auf Wiedersehen!
Chuck: Okay.
Judith: You’ll stay here?
Chuck: Alright I’ll stick around. But only for the listeners. Now when you hear this dialogue again you’ll see you understand so much more than you did before.
Judith: Yes, you’re really making a lot of progress in German already.
Chuck: Let’s listen to it again, but this time, imitate it after each line and try to make your accent match. Preferably her accent rather than mine.
Judith: Oh I think your accent is good enough.
Chuck: Aw thanks… Danke!
Frau Höhne: Guten Tag, Herr Jäger!
Herr Jäger: Guten Tag, Frau Höhne!
Frau Höhne: Wie geht es Ihnen?
Herr Jäger: Gut, danke, und Ihnen?
Frau Höhne: Auch gut, danke.
Herr Jäger: Auf Wiedersehen!
Frau Höhne: Auf Wiedersehen!

Outro

Chuck: At the Learning Center, at GermanPod101.com, you can easily listen to the dialogue again and match it with the transcript. You can go through it line by line, and even listen to each line individually over and over again, until you have internalized the phrase and its pronunciation. Then use the Recording Tool found on the same page to record your voice and compare it with the native speaker. This will really help you improve your pronunciation. If you have any questions, please feel free to use our forum or post a comment on today’s lesson. See you again soon.
Judith: Bis bald!
Chuck: Auf Wiedersehen!