Trials of Law Student in Germany

This year abroad so far has certainly been very picturesque and fun-filled, but I may not have talked so much about how studying the law at Munich University is VERY DIFFICULT (yes capital letters are necessary). Obviously German is famous for its crazy long words, compiled nouns and sentences – and I can tell you first hand that the legal language is no exception. Because the legal terminology is so long and time consuming to pronounce and write, they use an abundance of abbreviations. A quick example is: BverfG = Bundesverfassungsgericht (Constitutional Court of Germany). I also came across this word the other day whilst studying: Rechtsschutzversicherungsgesellschaften. I’m not even going to try and attempt to count the number of letters in this word or I’ll end up with a headache but it basically breaks down to mean ‘insurance companies who provide legal protection.’ We need SIX words in English to translate this one German word! SIX!!

Mix these huge and complicated words with my professor’s Bavarian accent and I really start to believe that I am in over my head.

One thing that I have noticed about the German law that is quite refreshing is that there is huge emphasis on democracy. It’s highlighted in every text book and every piece of legislation. I guess that it is a product of WWII and the German lawmakers wanting to do everything they can to avoid a similar situation ever occurring again. Speaking of the war, last week marked the 70th anniversary of its end. A day to celebrate or a day to remember quietly? I’m not so sure myself.

I just did a mid-term examination on Naturrecht. During the beginning of the lecture about this particular topic I scribbled notes on Environmental laws and other such things involving nature.  Little did I know that we were not discussing how to protect animals and trees but rather were knee – deep in legal philosophy and the law of morals.  Of one’s Nature. EMBARRASSING. Can I blame that one on the language barrier?… WHat did I say about being in over my head…?

Anyway, I’m not a philosopher (trees obviously make a noise when they fall?!) but the content of the subject of Naturrecht v.s. Rechtspositivismus (legal positivism) in Germany is really interesting.  A Mr. Gustav Radbruch had a theory that judges should not just have to apply laws to individual cases and follow legislation – if there is a situation where a law does not follow the rules of equality and treating everyone the same or does not follow the rules of justice etc, then a judge should be able to make the piece of legislation void.  This was crazy for me to hear, I mean, judges don’t have that power.. they’re not elected and they have to just go with the laws that the parliament gives them.  But Radbruch and many other Naturrecht supporters believe that judges should not be left defenseless like they were in the time of Nationalsozialismus in Germany (and like they are now).  I could delve into this for hours and I’m sorry to all the non-lawyers/philosophers if that was boring – I can almost head the eyes of anyone who reads this glazing over.  Just some food for thought!

I passed that exam but I’m struggling a bit with my German studies. I knew that it was never going to be easy. I only have 9 weeks left and 5 exams to do in that time as well as trying to pack everything that I need to do before I leave. 9 weeks + 5 exams + a trip to Italy + packing my life up + everything else = not enough time. However I never have been good at maths so I’m hoping that my calculations are wrong.

To continue on the moaning, I am also really struggling with problems in my back and having to attend physio twice a week. Can I just say that I can’t be the only who, when I heard the words ‘sports massage’, didn’t expect there to be screaming involved?

Buuuuut….. I’m making up for it by following this month’s motto of ‘Essen Sie sich Glücklich’ (eating yourself happy) and trying to try out loads of different restaurants and ice cream bars (who knew vegan ice cream was so delicious). Shout out to the German health system anyway for being so helpful in the case of my pesky stressed out back.

Well I think that’s enough of this blog of self-indulgent complaints so bis nächstes mal, ciao!

(I’ll end up with a pretty photo taken on my phone of the English Garden, where I eat my lunch most days (in a bid to be more German as they LOVE eating outdoors) to relax everyone after wading through legal phliosophy)

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Weeks left in Germany: 9

Favourite German Name I’ve Come Across So Far: Heiko Wunderlich

Scots & German: Observations

Hello everyone, thought I’d write a short, quick blog on something that has sparked some interesting thoughts recently! I find there to be LOADS of similarities between Shetland dialect/Scots and German and thought it really interesting.  I’d love to do a more in depth study one day as to why this is, the origins of the languages and to find all the examples. I’m definitely no etymologist but I don’t think it can be a coincidence!

Here’s a couple of examples I can think of just now:

English: to cough 

Scots/Shetland dialect: to host 

German: husten 

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English: the sky

Scots/Shetland dialect: da Lift

German: die Luft 

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English: cow

Scots/Shetland dialect: coo

German: die Kuh (pronounced the same as the Scots – coo) 

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English: came (past participle)

Scots/Shetland dialect: cam 

German: kam

There are loads more examples, those are just three from the top of my head.  I notice things like Germans saying ‘Ihre Mann ist Herr Müller.’ (her husband is Mr. Müller) and I know that in Shetland ‘man’ is used when referring to someone’s husband all the time: ‘Her man is Mr. Müller.’  Another example would be that Shetlanders sometimes retain genders when talking about objects in the same way that the Germans to (albeit in a much lesser manner): I’ve dropped my pen! Could du pick him up?’ And of course the use of the word ‘du’ (unsure of spelling here) and accusative ‘dee’ for the English ‘you’.  ‘Du’ is the exact same word that the Germans use and they also have the accusative ‘dich’ which is pronounced almost the exact same to ‘dee’ just with a little throaty sound on the end. Of course in Shetland the definitive ariticle is ‘da’ and this is very similar to the German neuter definite article ‘das’.

These are just small observations and again, I would love to one day be able to do some more study on this theme.  I almost wish I was writing a dissertation! People who are in the middle of writing theirs next year will probably kill me for writing that. (It’s not compulsory as part of my joint honours Law and German LLB as I don’t have enough time.)

I can’t be sure what is Scots and what is only specific to Shetland dialect.. I’m most definitely not an expert on the subject and my only source is my experience. Maybe it isn’t similar to Scots at all and the similar words in Shetland dialect relate to more Scandinavian routes? For one, I don’t actually know the accurate definiton of ‘Scots’ and when I refer to this I really just mean words that I have heard Scottish people say that the English don’t say.

A quick google search of “Scots and German” hasn’t really turned anything up.  I’m sure there are academic journals/articles on the subject and I definitely would like to learn some more. If anyone sees any mistakes or misunderstandings in any of this please let me know! I accept I am totally ignorant on the subject and I am just speaking from what I have heard! And PLEASE let me know if you have any other examples!

English words made up by Germans. Lost in Translation when speaking Denglish.

This strange phenomenon has been bugging me for a while now. But also providing me with lots of amusement – it can be quite hilarious.

It sounds really strange but there is an abundance of words that Germans use in every day life that they think are English. They like to invent English sounding words that are.. just not English.  In the rare cases that they are in fact English words, they are used in a really wrong context.

I’ve come with a short list of some of the words that I have noticed the past few months being used a lot:

1. Handy

This is the most obvious one and one that you will see and hear everywhere if you come to Germany. The Germans use this word for mobile telephone.  And whilst a mobile phone certainly is accessible and helpful – saying ‘I got a new Handy’ just sounds odd.

2. Beamer

Being at university and in a classroom/lecture hall setting on a daily basis, I hear this one all the time.  We might use this to describe a BMW but nope, the Germans use this on the daily when talking about a projector – I assume because it beams light or something?

3. Wellness

This one always gives me a good laugh.  I went to the Therme Erding spa and pool last week and it was everywhere.  You see it on shop adverts or holiday brochures all the time.  I mean obviously this word does exist in English as we would use it to refer to fitness and happiness etc… but the Germans say things like ‘Would you like to do some wellness?’ and they specifically mean a spa.  ‘Wellness area’ = spa area.. em?

Weirdly seen whilst writing this on Facebook. '3 days Wellness for 99£!'
Coincidence!  Seen on Facebook whilst writing this blogpost. ‘3 days Wellness for 99£! Use the Wellness offers and drink herbal tea in the Wellness area’

4. Peeling

I went and tested out some make up at the Ludwig in Marienplatz last month and the lady who tested out the products on my face wanted to speak in English to practice.   She kept asking me if I would like to buy some ‘peeling’.  She looked at me so confused when I said I didn’t quite understand.  She was adamant that was the right word. Aparently it means exfoliation and I assume this is because the practice of exfoliation sort of peels off the dead layer of skin.  Since then I have seen it everywhere in beauty shops.

5. Showmaster and Talkmaster

Self explanatory.  Talkmaster = talk show host.

There are lots of others like Sprayer for Graffiti artist and pull under for a piece of clothing you wear under another but I will stop now or I will end up going on all day.

Apart from certain words, you will also see lots of Hybrid German English phrases sneaking around, sometimes known as Denglisch. They are very.. strange.

On youtube for example you will see tutorials for ’10 Minunten Make Up, 100 komplette Looks’. Or when booking flights – ‘Last Minute Flüge!’ One man who I tutor in English grammar kept asking me to do ‘drills’ with him when he meant exercise.  Turns out that they use this word in German for English grammar excercises all the time.  Germans will just throw in English phrases in any sentence as well – at work I overheard a conversation during the Fasching festival that this week at work would be laid back – ‘Diese Woche sind wir sehr easy – going.’ Hmmmm. Working in an office I see lots of this as I think the whole Denglish thing started in the computing world – I see things like ‘downgeloadet’ and ‘gesendet’ every day.

My shoe cleaner I bought yesterday.  'Easy to Clean Effekt'
My shoe cleaner I bought yesterday. ‘Easy to Clean Effekt’

I suppose its all due to the globalisation of the word and that this huge old place is becoming smaller.  I don’t like this Anglicisation, the Germans have a wonderful language and they need to preserve it. Aparently I am not the only one with this opinion as DB Trains (Deutsche Bahn) have been attempting to crack down on these weird hybrid German English phrases in the work place.  This involved issuing every single employee with a dictionary of phrase used and the translation into the proper German word.  For example, instead of Flyern (for flyers) they are to use Handzetteln which is the proper German word.

I really hope the Germans cling on to their beautiful language and don’t let it become invaded too much by English.  It seems crazy because these weird mixtures of phrases are actually really hard to understand – the Germans don’t understand them and the English don’t understand them.

I will leave you with the wonderful translation on the side of our sauna shower in Slovenia this past weekend, someone relied on Google Translate too heavily maybe? Gave me laugh hope it gives you one too!1504938_10153643437512519_7627326789773097158_n