In just a few months Minerva’s class of 2020 will reach the fourth city in their global rotation: Berlin. The pre-departure orientation session was entertaining and informative, despite the controversial rendition of a cherished “Cabaret” number by a pair of 2019 theater nerds.
In the spirit of preparedness, here are some of the most useful expressions that real Germans actually use all the time. Enjoy!
The most common casual greeting in Germany. Be sure to carry all your important identification documents to avoid an awkward situation!
Shhhh! Die Wände haben Ohren…
Translation: Shhhh! The walls have ears…
Cultural differences lead to all kinds of surprising and amusing misunderstandings. Just like jaywalking or getting away with a noticeable fart, secretly scheming against the authorities is a bit more difficult in Germany. Be sure to communicate using inconspicuous language or cryptic passwords when possible. Remember! The most common placement of a government bug is inside the lampshade!
Sieh an, sieh an! Was haben wir denn hier?
Translation: Well, well, well! What have we got here?
The ultimate conversation starter. Works great for strangers who happen to be terrified by your mere presence. Best used when taking off gloves extremely slowly and pacing in a circle. If you happen to be barging into a house, make sure your hot beverage preference is as unconventional and as specific as possible to let everyone know how special a character you really are.
Sie sagten, ich sei verrückt, aber wer ist jetzt verrückt?
Translation: They said I was crazy, but who’s crazy now?
Haven’t we all been doubted by our peers, and yet inspired to see our passion projects through? Whether it’s a weight loss program, a startup idea, or an inhumane experimental medical procedure that defiles the purity of life and challenges the divine supremacy of God himself, German has a phrase for that!
Bitte Louis, nicht wieder “Willkommen”.
Translation: Please, Louis, not “Willkommen” again.
We get it, in another life you could’ve been the next Alan Cumming. Please put your shirt back on.
Wir stellen die Fragen!
Translation: We ask the questions!
A good student strives to extract knowledge from any situation, from classes to civic projects, research internships, and violent interrogation sessions. Always stay on top of the situation by reminding your colleagues and victims who’s in charge!
Wo verstecken sie sich?
Translation: Where are they hiding?
Hide and seek is a popular tradition in Germany, where historically games have been played on an international scale with participants of all ages! Good hiding places include Döner food trucks, mimicking statues in public gardens and dark attics, and under the seats of communal toilets.
Dummkopf! Du führst uns direkt zum Schatz!
Translation: Fool! You lead us straight to the treasure!
Life hack! Even in Germany, the birthplace of Albert Einstein, some fools lead you straight to the treasure. Want the treasure? Let the American with the explorer hat do all the hard work, and simply follow them to the hidden ancient vault with your assault team.
Niemand kommt, um dich zu retten.
Translation: No one is coming to rescue you.
Fun Grammar Fact! German speakers make sure to separate their main and subordinate clauses with commas. Be creative! Use the pause for comedic effect or to instill dread in the minds of your enemies!
That’s it! Know any other useful phrases to add to our list? Want safe passage to the West? Contact us! If we don’t respond within 2 business days, remember to grab the kids and escape your home, packing only one pair of shoes and a family heirloom.