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Lesson Transcript

Chuck: This is Newbie Series Lesson 4.
Judith: Welcome. It’s great to have you back for another Newbie Lesson.
Chuck: Are you as excited as I am to be improving my German? One would think that a lot of people speak English in Germany, especially since the languages are comparatively close. But in fact, I couldn’t get by with just English.
Judith: So if you want to visit Germany, learn some German. We’ll help you.
Chuck: That’s the main purpose of the Newbie lessons in fact, to quickly enable you to have conversations in German. In the last lesson, we learned some vital phrases for flirting.
Judith: Let’s hear again how the story started.
Lena Wagner: Michael, was machst du beruflich?
Michael Schmidt: Ich arbeite als Programmierer. Und du?
Lena Wagner: Ich studiere noch.
Michael Schmidt: Was studierst du? Studierst du Medizin?
Lena Wagner: Nein, ich studiere Geschichte.
Judith: Now slowly.
Judith: Michael, was machst du beruflich?
Chuck: Ich arbeite als Programmierer. Und du?
Judith: Ich studiere noch.
Chuck: Was studierst du? Studierst du Medizin?
Judith: Nein, ich studiere Geschichte.
Judith: Now I will read the whole thing, and Chuck will give you translations.
Judith: Michael, was machst du beruflich?
Chuck: “Michael, what do you do professionally?”
Judith: Ich arbeite als Programmierer.
Chuck: “I work as a programmer.”
Judith: Und du?
Chuck: “And you?”
Judith: Ich studiere noch.
Chuck: “I’m still studying.”
Judith: Was studierst du?]
Chuck: “What are you studying?”
Judith: Studierst du Medizin?
Chuck: “Do you study Medicine?”
Judith: Nein, ich studiere Geschichte.
Chuck: “No, I study history.”
Judith: There were a few new words in this lesson. let’s have a look at them. First there is Was?
Chuck: “What?”
Judith: Was?
Chuck: “What?”
Judith: Was is a question word meaning “what”. We used Was in the context of Was machen Sie beruflich? The second word is unknown too, machen.
Chuck: “To do” or “to make”.
Judith: machen.
Chuck: “To do” or “to make”.
Judith: Be careful with the ch sound in the middle of it. And the last word in this phrase is beruflich.
Chuck: So “by profession” or “professional”.
Judith: beruflich.
Chuck: “By profession “ or “professional”.
Judith: I’ll break it down for you - be-ruf-lich, beruflich. So now you can say Was machen Sie beruflich?
Chuck: What do you do professionally.
Judith: The next word is als.
Chuck: “As.”
Judith: als.
Chuck: “As.”
Judith: And one answer of what you’re doing professionally could be Ich arbeite als Programmierer. And here you will find der Programmierer.
Chuck: “Programmer.”
Judith: Programmierer.
Chuck: “Programmer.”
Judith: If you’re not yet working, you might be studieren.
Chuck: “To study.”
Judith: studieren.
Chuck: “To study”. Note that this only means to study at a university.
Judith: For any other kinds of study, you would have to say lernen, “to learn”. Now I don’t want to burden you with all kinds of study subjects but here are two of them. One is die Medizin.
Chuck: “Medicine”
Judith: die Medizin.
Chuck: “Medicine”
Judith: And the other die Geschichte.
Chuck: “History.”
Judith: die Geschichte.
Chuck: “History.”
Judith: And that’s it.
Chuck: So now once you’ve exhausted the topic of where people live and whether they come here often, you can continue the conversation by asking about their studies or their job.
Judith: For this purpose, I highly suggest that you look up the name of your profession or your study subject. We don’t want to burden you with hundreds of such names at this point, but it is important to be able to say what you do for a living.
Chuck: Then it’s up to your partner in conversation to figure out what that means. But what if I don’t want to tell someone what I'm doing for a living?
Judith: Are you afraid that professional sloucher won’t impress anybody?
Chuck: No, I just think this is private information.
Judith: Well, in Germany it’s impolite to force people to reveal too much. The question Was machen Sie beruflich? “What do you do professionally?” is a prime example. It’s quite vague unlike Wo arbeiten Sie? which would mean “Where do you work?” In response to Was machen Sie beruflich, people can say just about anything, for example Ich arbeite bei Siemens.
Chuck: “I work at Siemens.” So they’re not revealing whether they’re mechanic or manager.
Judith: Or they could say Ich studiere Geschichte.
Chuck: “I study history.” Not saying what semester they’re in or what job they do on the side.
Judith: Ich arbeite als Programmierer.
Chuck: “I work as a programmer.” Not revealing whether that’s what they studied, whether they work for a company or just do the occasional freelancing.
Judith: Ich bin Diplom-Betriebsleiter.
Chuck: This literally means “I'm a diploma manager” meaning “I have a diploma in management”, now not revealing whether I found work in that field, or unemployed, or just had to accept a badly paid job.
Judith: So people can evade the topic if they’re not comfortable with it or they can voluntarily provide details if they wouldn’t mind discussing it.
Chuck: But don’t ask people about their salary. It’s not a good idea.
Judith: Few people want to show that they are rich and very few people want to show you that they are poor. For example, there are millionaires that complain so much you might believe they will soon be on social money. And, on the other hand, there are poor people that try to make you believe they’re just saving for later. Instead of trying to show off how rich people are, they try to show off sophistication.
Chuck: You only see a bookcase on display when you visit Germans.
Judith: Usually, in the living room and usually it contains more than just a few classics. On the other hand, people don’t admit that they read tabloids like the Bild.
Chuck: But you’ll find books about manners and evening classes on general knowledge.
Judith: And Germans always try to pronounce every foreign word as it should be pronounced in the language it was taken from. For example, the word “cousin”. In German it is taken from French, just like in English, so normally we should be saying “cousin” if we’re just reading it the way that we would read a German word. However, people say either “couseng” or “cousin” depending on their state of education. They try to imitate the French, and that could go as far as actually pronouncing the nasal vowel there.
Chuck: If you want to show sophistication, for example, when doing a job interview in Germany, you absolutely have to use the right form of address, of course.
Judith: Of course. Well, so far we always saw the polite formal way of address. Now, however, Michael got permission to call Lena by her first name, and they are both using informal language addressing each other. This involves using the pronoun [du] instead of [Sie]. The matching verb ending is “st”. For example, [du kommst, du wohnst, du arbeitest, du heißt], instead of [Sie kommen, Sie wohnen, Sie arbeiten, Sie heißen].

Lesson focus

Chuck: Let’s recap all the verb endings we’ve seen so far. There is the example of [studieren].
Judith: Well, first there is [studieren]
Chuck: “To study.”
Judith: That’s the infinitive. And then, as we go actually conjugating this verb in the present tense, there is [ich studiere].
Chuck: “I study.”
Judith: [du studierst]
Chuck: “You study.” Informally.
Judith: [Sie studieren]
Chuck: “You study.” Formally.
Judith: And this is all you need to know about formal versus informal German verbs. The distinction between informal and formal is only made on this one occasion and there are no further forms to study, unlike in languages like Japanese.
Chuck: Yay, I'm so glad I'm studying German, not Japanese.
Judith: One more thing though. If you have the PDFs, which I hope you do because they’re really useful, you’ll notice that there are a lot more words capitalized in German than in English.
Chuck: Hey, did the infallible Judith just make so many typos.
Judith: They’re not typos.
Chuck: Sure.
Judith: In German it’s just a rule that all nouns are capitalized. In exchange, adjectives like “German” are not.
Chuck: Interesting. I guess I can learn that, rule doesn’t seem too hard.


Judith: And what about our lessons? Are they too hard or too easy maybe?
Chuck: Please let us know either by leaving us a comment, a message in the forum or you can even reach us by email at contactus@germanpod101.com.
Judith: Yay, yummy emails. I'm looking forward to hearing from you.
Chuck: And I am too, of course. I particularly appreciate a fan club of my own.
Judith: Ha ha. Let’s listen to the dialogue again before this gets out of hand.
Judith: [Michael, was machst du beruflich?]
Chuck: [Ich arbeite als Programmierer. Und du?]
Judith: [Ich studiere noch.]
Chuck: [Was studierst du? Studierst du Medizin?]
Judith: [Nein, ich studiere Geschichte.]
Chuck: Well, that’s it for the fourth Newbie Lesson. Please check back next week for the next one.
Judith: If you’re impatient to learn more already, you can simultaneously follow the beginner series as well and do exercises in the Learning Center.
Chuck: It’s best to get our RSS Feed. You can automatically see when there’s a new lesson, or you can write me about signing up for my fan club. Anyway, thank you for listening to GermanPod101.com.
Judith: Hope you enjoyed it. Bis bald!
Chuck: See you later.


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