The German Language is Hilarious


The German flag

Alisha Hawley

As in every language, some things just don’t translate. What may be a single word in one language may take an entire sentence to describe in another! For example: pedestrian street crossing. Kind of a mouthful, right? On the other hand (or language), in German, it’s called “Ampelmannchen”! Here’s a list of other things in German that you just can’t say as easily in English:


Schadenfreude: The feeling of pleasure in others discomfort.


Backpfeifengesicht: Someone with a punchable face.


Kummerspeck: literal translation is “grief bacon”, but refers to eating when you’re sad.


Fremdschämen: essentially, second-hand embarrassment.


Treppenwitz: the literal translation is “staircase joke”, it’s that feeling when you think of the best comeback or joke on your way out, hence the “staircase” part.


Verschlimmbessern: To make something worse in the process of trying to improve it.


Frühjahrsmüdigkeit: The literal translation is “Early year tiredness”, and it refers to a strange sickness that pops up between March and April that consists mainly of tiredness.


Erklärungsnot: When you suddenly have to come up with an excuse for something that you weren’t prepared for.


Ohrwurm: You know that song that is just stuck in your head no matter how hard to get it out? Turns out in Germany, they call that an “ear worm”!


Torschlusspanik: Literally “closing-gate panic” it refers to the feeling of panic you feel when you think all your opportunities have already passed you, that “it’s all too late”.

Ridgeline’s resident German teacher, Herr Redmon, says this about the nature of l

anguage: “English is a Germanic language. It just makes sense to us [the way it is]. German is the scientific study of the most legit language. Sometimes German can sound weird to us, like ‘Ich bin damit’ is ‘I’m there with you’, but it sounds like something completely different to us.”

All languages are uniquely fascinating, so get out there and learn some more about a foreign language that interests you!