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 


English: the sky

Scots/Shetland dialect: da Lift

German: die Luft 


English: cow

Scots/Shetland dialect: coo

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


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

Enjoying one of nature’s little surprises

Liebe Leser und liebe Leserinnen,

Dear Readers.

The last two weeks have mainly been dedicated to studying. I made a mistake with my courses and didn’t realise until six weeks in that I had accidentally chosen a Masters class and that this may be the reason I wasn’t understanding much (or…understanding anything). Almost everyone else in the class already has a law degree! Anyway, it was too late to change classes and this has lead to some frantic cramming. The exam was today and it went ok, although the lady sitting next to me introduced herself and mentioned that she was working on her Phd and I felt well and truly out of my league. And when I opened the paper to start the exam I did sort of feel more lost than Alan Partridge walking down the wrong side of the motorway singing Goldfinger.

I sat in the exam scrawling the longest German words you could ever dream of whilst simultaneously trying my hardest to undo the public law shaped knot inside my brain. I can only hope now. Not sure if I am in law school or in the Hunger Games at this point. The lack of sleep didn’t really help either – my next door neighbour locked herself out and came to my door at 2am last night so that she could climb onto my balcony to reach her open balcony door.

It is fine though, my only real goal in life is to have my own Wikipedia page and you don’t need to pass exams to achieve that.. do you?

In better news, the fluffy white stuff has made its home in Munich this week and the sunsets are still painting the loch.

Olympiapark yesterday

The Austrailians (and others who have trekked here from faraway lands) are treating their first snow like it is their first love. But who can blame them, who doesn’t love snow? The thick, fluffy kind that falls softly and silently in the night. You wake up in a totally different world – it’s magical.

I think it’s the nostalgia of it all – the white stuff whisks you into a time machine straight back to your childhood. Straight back to all that childlike fascination and joy. Walking to uni was silent today on the snow-carpet beneath my feet, except when I walked through some that was deeper and I felt that oh-so-satisfying crunch of the snow under my wellies. It’s the simple things.

When the Olympiapark was clothed in snow there was nothing more enchanting. It was all just silence and snow and you’d be forgiven for thinking that the only reason it was there was to make things look beautiful. And there was nothing better than the feeling of sitting in my room with my cup of tea and my blanket watching the snow fall by candle light. The world was like my very own snow globe.
BUT as the days get colder, we all need to start having warmer hearts. And by this I mean doing things that make us happy – for example NO STUDYING!

We piled up snow my friend's door as a joke while she was out at an exam so she couldn't get in.  I got a text to say she had found her exam had gone badly so I immediately felt horrible and frantically tried to bash the snow down from her door failed miserably as it turns out, snow freezes very fast and had turned into an ice block.
We piled up snow my friend’s door as a joke while she was out at an exam so she couldn’t get in. I got a text to say she had found her exam had gone badly so I immediately felt horrible and frantically tried to bash the snow down from her door failed miserably as it turns out, snow freezes very fast and had turned into an ice block.
Sledging in Olympic Park behind my little house
Stopped to take a selfie mid sledge, little did we know that this man was doing 40mph down the hill towards us.. moral of the story is that selfies are the root of all pain
Stopped to take a selfie mid sledge, little did we know that this man was doing 40mph down the hill towards us.. moral of the story is that selfies are the root of all pain and embarrassment

Having had more than my annual fair share of study moaning, I have got lots to look forward to after all the studying is over. I’m off to Vienna for a trip shortly and I have been ordering some work- appropriate clothes for my official start in my new law office job next week. However that has lead to problems of its own. I got a delivery from the courier of some new black boots for work at 8am yesterday and I answered in my pyjamas. The postie man said that he might however have to come back later because he needed me to sign something to confirm I had received them but that he had forgot the electronic signing device thingy. I went out and had my day at uni, met my friend for lunch and taught an english lesson. Came home around 5pm and got back into my pyjamas – y’know, for optimum comfort – and yep, this is when the postie decided to return. From his point of view, I looked like the laziest student ever who sat around in her pyjamas all day, no amount of ‘oh by the way I have been out today’ could end his smirking face of disapproval.

Anyway! Here’s to more sun and snow! I don’t think I’ve ever come across a pair more suited to one another!

A lonely little schneeman in the Englisher Garten

Law school Germany fact of the day:
The Bavarian Reinheitsgebot (purity law) was brought in by Albert IV Duke of Bavaria in 1487 and specifies that only water, hops and barley could be used to brew beer. The European Union Court in 1987 decided that this Reinheitsgebot was unlawful because it prevented free trade within the EU because other countries could not import their beer to Germany as their beers did not comply with the law. Lots of Bavarian beers however still proudly present ‘Gebraut nach dem Reinheitsgebot’ (brewed according to the purity laws) on their beers. The Germans LOVE a good quality beer and want to know exactly what they are drinking!

At least everyone smiles in the same language.

While the Germans boast the Automobile, technology and green energy as their most successful exports – the United Kingdom boasts the English language.

Language – the source of communication and what makes the Human species so remarkable. There are few who deny the importance of the English language in politics, business and everything else really… it is so widespread and I do feel lucky to have this internationally spoken language as my mother tongue.

SO when I met a nice older lady in the theater last month and we chatted back and forth – I was not surprised when she mentioned that she wanted to improve her English because she was an artist and had many English customers.Anyway we exchanged email adresses and a month later I agreed to visit her at her art studio and help her with some work-related vocabulary.

So I made my way last Thursday to her place easily as I am now a master of the German transport system. Not that it is hard to master…but we don’t mention that. One of the great pleasures I have in life is giving directions in Munich to visiting Germans. Nothing that makes you feel more like a proper Münchner.

The lady lived in an ‘Atelier’ which is the French word for workshop and her house/tower was as amazing as you’d expect a slightly eccentric artist’s house to be.I decided to begin with some small talk. The thing is.. the actual problem wasn’t with her English at this point – it was the understanding of the concept of having a pointless conversation. I’ve mentioned this before but the Germans really just do not get the whole British polite boring 5 minute talk about nothing thing that we do…(why do we do that?).

I found I suffered with the problem that is jumping between two languages – hint: extremely difficult. The lady would pick something up such as a hammer and ask me what it is called in English and I would just stutter and say ‘emm.. it will come back to me.’ I like to describe my year abroad as just a series of awkward moments.

And shocking moments, as when I came home one day I found this note on my door. The handy arrow suggested that I look up and so I did. Only to see the postie had lobbed my package up 2 storeys onto my balcony. The Germans amaze me every day.

Screen Shot 2014-11-15 at 15.50.15

Even though I am abroad and have to go through all the stress that is living in a foreign country, I still find that I have not escaped the normal every day problems of life. If anyone knows how to remove pomegranate stains from a white wall it would be great to get some tips as my flat currently looks like I have committed a murder. I tried to use a scourer to remove the stains and ended up scouring off the paint from the wall because I am a class A idiot.

 Seriously though if anyone has any tips that would be great because I might resort to tip-exing the wall and that’s just not going to be great. I want my deposit back. There are many jars of Nutella that need to be bought. (and yes that is a University essential).

Going to head into the centre of town later to see if I can purchase anything less abrasive than a scourer. Currently working up the courage to do so as it is a Saturday and although Munich is so quiet all the time and you barely feel like a city, there’s only 1.2 million people or so but they can ALL be found in once place in the city centre on a Saturday and it is somewhat hektisch. 0/10 would not recommend to a friend.

 Days til my flight home for Christmas: 33