THE FLENSBURG FILES

A German-American-Multicultural online column

The Many Forms of Why in German

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Flensburg’s skyline at night- it is just as active as its looks. Photo taken in April, 2011

In English, we have several ways to ask questions, among them the Seven Golden Ws, consisting of Who, What, When, Where, Why, How (and its many forms) and Which. Each one has a different meaning in context.

In German, we have not only the Seven Golden Ws for asking questions: Wer, Was, Wann, Wo, Warum, Wie and Wessen, but each of the golden Ws is subdivided unto several types. For example, we have for Wer, which includes Wen and Wem. The division is based on the personal form- here with the nominative Wer, it’s accusative and dative, respectively.

For the Golden W Warum, there are many types one can use. This German linguist decided to use the comparison of Warum by using the Book of Genesis in a parodiable way.  Believe it or not, these variants are the same but have a slight difference. Can you find these differences? 🙂

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The Creative Use of “UP”

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I came across this rather funny story about the use of UP, a word that has six functions in English: noun, verb, preposition, adjective, adverb and a phrasal verb. Read this one and you will get a good laugh out of it. Source courtesy of Marílla Escramo.

 

This two-letter word in English has more meanings than any other two-letter word. That word is up. It is listed in the dictionary as an adverb, preposition, adjective, noun or verb. It’s easy to understand up, meaning toward the sky or at the top of the list, but when awaken in the morning, why do we wake up?

At a meeting, why does a topic come up? Why do we speak up and why are the officers up for election, if there is a tie, it is a toss-up, and why is it up to the secretary to write up a report?

We call up our friends, brighten up a room, polish up the silver, warm up the leftovers and clean up the kitchen. We lock up the house and fix up the old car.

At other times, this little word has a real special meaning. People stir up trouble, line up for tickets, work up an appetite, and think up excuses.

To be dressed is one thing, but to be dressed up is special.

And this up can be confusing. A drain must be opened up because it is blocked up!!!

To be knowledgeable about the proper uses of up, look up the word up in the dictionary. In a desk-sized dictionary, it takes up almost ¼ of the page and can add up to about thirty definitions!!!

If you are up to it, you might try building up a list of many ways up is used. It will take up a lot of your time, but if you don’t give up, you may wind up with up to a hundred or more.

When it threatens to rain, we say it’s clouding up. When the sun comes out, we say it is clearing up. When it rains, it soaks up the earth. When it does not rain for awhile, things dry up.

So did this while thing crack you up?

Send this on to everyone you look up in your address book……. Or not…… it’s up to you.  🙂

 

And to end this up, here’s a quote that will up your knowledge: Whenever you are down, the only way to go up in the world is up.  Any questions? 😉 

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Aufhören in English: The many different ways to express it.

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To kick off the weekend, I would like to ask you this question: How do we say aufhören in English?

The first thing that came to mind was a scene in the film Stripes, which starred Bill Murray, Harold Ramis and Warren Oates.  Watch this Scene where the platoon get into a brawl while practicing for graduation (from 2:30 on) and ask yourselves whether what the character Winger says can be translated into the German word or not:

 

Or in this scene before, when Winger had a bad day (example right at the beginning) which got worse when his girlfriend walked out on him:

 

In both cases, they can be translated into German for Aufhören.

Aufhören can be categorized into 3-4 categories, of which two of them are most commonly used: one meaning stop it, the other one meaning to quit. Yet interestingly enough, there are several variants in the two categories that can be used, keeping in mind that not everything is 100% one size fits all. Here is a collection of the English equivalents to the German word Aufhören, which you can use in English, keeping the examples in mind as well as a couple other film examples. Feel free to add more if you think they should.

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Hope they help. 🙂

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Translation: The Longest German Words found in Duden

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If there is something that is typical of German culture and language, it is the fact that the German language has some of the longest words in the world. Longest because they literally are equivalent to words that fill up the entire Latin alphabet and more. Longest because they mostly can be found in the Duden dictionary . Longest because they are difficult to translate. In other words, we don’t have English equivalents similar to them and therefore, we are forced to paraphrase  in English.

Or perhaps not? Perhaps one can find a one-word equivalent despite the fact that finding them are almost impossible.

Take a look at the list of the longest words in German, based in the number of letters. All of them are longer than the Latin alphabet. The question is: what are the equivalents in English, let alone your own native language? Challenge yourselves and provide your answers in the comment section below. Good luck! 😀

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Why German is a beautiful language

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Picked up this rather interesting set of “word-for-word” translations going from Germany into English with both the literal as well as the actual meanings from one of the German facebook sites. Something to ponder, or even laugh about. Whatever type of humor you have. 😉  Enjoy! 😀

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Photo Flick 13

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This photo flick gives us a true meaning of the classroom learning exercise known as “Think, Pair and Share.”  All you need are two chairs, a table, a notebook with pen and a good environment to brainstorm and exchange ideas, like this art exhibition room in a district in Dresden’s Neustadt, taken in April 2019. 🙂

 

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The Use of Time Markers Part V: The Use of Past Continuous

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Before we get into this topic, I would like to introduce you to this clip of a stunning upset of Georgia Tech against Florida State in American football. Have a look at the clip and come up with some sentences using past tense.

 

While you are writing some sentences our topic for the use of time markers is solely American football. The sport was introduced in 1869 through a football game between two Ivy League colleges: Rutgers and Princeton. The game consisted of a round ball, two goal posts with an end zone each and lots of tackling. But most importantly, the rules introduced by William Leggett but later modernized by another Ivy League student, Walter Camp, would eventually be integrated into the rules used in today’s sport.  The first professional league was created in 1892, yet the National Football League came into being in 1920 and counting the merger with the American Football League in 1969, is one of the oldest leagues in the world, with 32 professional teams and one of the most watched sporting events in the world, the Super Bowl. College football in America is just as popular as the NFL due to its income coming from sponsors, promotions and through college football games, including all the bowl games- most notably: The Rose Bowl, Sugar Bowl, Citrus Bowl, etc. It also features the college marching band, which provides their home team with a round of support.

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While we will get to football at a later time, have you had a chance to come up with some sentences to this upset?

Some of you may have taken the easy route and written the following down:

The kicker tried to kick the ball

The defender blocked the ball

Another defender picked up the ball

That defender ran it in for the touchdown

Georgia Tech won the game.

 

Some may have been more artistic in their sentence construction and wrote something similar to the following:

As the kicker was kicking the ball, it was blocked by the defender.

While the ball was rolling along, another defender picked it up.  He was running towards the end zone when the players from Florida State tried to tackle him.

At the end of the game, the crowd was celebrating Georgia Tech’s victory.

This is where the grammar aspect comes in. The more artistic a sentence in English is, the more you can find some spots in grammar that warrant explanation. In this case, we have the words: as, while, when and a certain specified time, plus the verb forms of was + verb with –ing.

Source: SteelCityHobbies, taken in 2006 for flickr and wikiCommons

 

And this is our topic today: Time Markers involving Past Continuous Form.

Past continuous functions in a similar way as with present continuous, using the “to be” form plus the verb with the –ing ending on it. The continuous functions in a way that it describes what the person is/was doing in a time frame.  The difference between present continuous and past continuous is the following:

Present continuous:

Verb construction: Is/are + verb-ing =>  is watching; are doing
Use: Activities that happen now/ at this moment

Future tense in connection with (short-term) planning

 

 

Past continuous:

Verb construction: Was/were + verb-ing =>  was driving; were walking
Use: Activities that happened during a certain time frame before or after a an event in the past tense that was finished.

 

Examples:

1. I was watching TV when you called.

2. When you called, I was watching TV

 

3. While I was waiting for the train, my girlfriend called.

4. At this time last night, I was driving home.

5. As I was backing out, the driver hit me from behind.

The third difference between the present and past continuous forms are the time markers. There, when looking at the list below, one can see that there are more time markers in the former than in the latter, whereas the in the latter, the time markers there are used exclusively, while they are rare to use in the former.

Time markers:

Present continuous Past continuous
(right) now, currently, at the moment, momentarily, these days, nowadays, at present/ at the present time/ presently, today, while, this (week, month, year), in this era/period… While, when (as a dependent clause), as, during the time…., This time/period, certain specified time: last week, a couple days ago, on 23rd December, at 9:30 last night, etc.

 

One can also say that some of the elements in past continuous can also be used for past tense, yet one needs to pay attention to the context. That means normally, past tense is the primary verb tense used for sentences, whereas the past continuous is a supplement to the main sentence. Therefore it is normal to see a past continuous being used when the time markers of while, when, as and during are used, as seen in examples in the table above. They normally do not stand out alone unless a certain time period is used and serves as a “substitute” to the past simple verb tense.

Examples:

I was walking to the grocery store last night. – Past Continuous

I walked to the grocery store last night. – Past Simple

 

I was walking to the grocery store last night when I heard a strange noise.- Possible

I walked to the grocery store last night when I heard a strange noise.- Not possible

 

When I saw the person breaking into the store, I called the police.- Possible

While I saw the person breaking into the store, I called the police.- Not possible

 

Source: Keith Allison. Photo taken in 2017 (wikiCommons)

Exercise A:  The Choice-  Look at the sentences below and determine which highlighted part of each sentence is past simple or past continuous. Identify the time markers in each sentence.

  1. Last night, our football team lost in the playoffs finals, and the crowd was heartbroken.
  2. It happened when the quarterback was trying to throw the ball and it was intercepted.
  3. The wide receiver was wide open as the quarterback was throwing the ball to him.
  4. The linebacker, who was being blocked by an offensive lineman, suddenly reached up to tip the ball.
  5. While the ball was bobbling in the air, another linebacker saw it and reached up to grab it.
  6. After he caught the ball, he landed on the ground and started running.
  7. As he was running towards the end zone, several offensive players of the opposing team tried to stop him.
  8. When he saw an opening, he quickly broke free.
  9. While he was running towards the end zone, the noise of the crowd got louder, as the fans were cheering for him.
  10. He suddenly reached the end zone and scored, as the finals seconds ticked to zero.
  11. After he scored, he collapsed and the other players ran towards him.
  12. During that time, he was trying to gasp for air because he ran so hard and so fast despite his weight.
  13. My team started crying because we were leading by one point with four seconds left on the clock.
  14. The fans of the winning team was racing onto the field as time ran out.
  15. I still cannot forget the game today, because we were so close to winning but we were facing frontal winds during the whole game.

 

Exercise B: Unscramble- Unscramble the following words and form a complete sentence using the correct verb tense (past continuous/present continuous/past simple). HINT: Identify the subject, verb and time marker first before proceeding with the sentence construction!

Marshall game go between tonight football Jackson we to and the homecoming
win of November last in Marshall last game the year
snow fans freeze whole players it the (2x) game during and (2x)
lead by 3 points Jackson when take over Marshall in the last minute
running back wide opening end zone on the first play find ball into run the (2x) into
the (2x) problems have slippery Jackson both football Marshall with during the game
players slide field go on the (3x) as around even game
players look forward game fans the (3x) to and this year
Saturday the take place warm afternoon on in game weather sunny

 

  1. (!): Two sentence construction: Bold printed words are for the first half of the sentence. Please unscramble those in the top row first before unscrambling the bottom half that is for the second half!
sloppy win last year Marshall the sloppy after game
Jackson to this look game forward win

 

Exercise C: Fill-in

Using the verb in parentheses, complete each sentence using either the past simple or past continuous. !: Please pay attention to the time markers in each sentence. HINT: Identify them first before completing the sentence.

  1. Theo _______________ the chip dip for the party when his best friend called. (prepare)
  2. Clyde’s first day of football practice _____________yesterday at the high school football field. (begin)
  3. While I ____________ busy bringing down the quarterback, a lineman suddenly ________ into me and _________ me down. (to be/run/knock)
  4. After I _________ to the ground, I sprained my ankle. (fall)
  5. Sam ____________the best football game of his career last season, as he ___________ three touchdowns, and his team won the state championship. (play/score)
  6. We _______________ to meet friends at a tailgate party outside the football stadium when we ____________ a flat tire on our pick-up. (go/see)
  7. Because we wanted to watch the Super Bowl, we _____________ a new TV three days ago. (buy)
  8. While you _____________ with that damn chick over there, we _________do all the work to prepare for the party. (flirt/have to)
  9. Jesse ____________ with her marching band at the Rose Bowl parade yesterday. We ___________ it live on TV. (march/watch)
  10. A: What ________you _________ just now? (do- question form)

B: I _____________ a pizza. Glad you __________ because I need your help. (make/come)

 

  1. A: That _______ a foul call! (to be)

B: Hey! Why are you shouting at the TV?

A: Because that quarterback was hit after he _______ the ball! And the referee                            ____________ it!  (throw/ not see)

 

  1. A: Hey coach! Why did you cut me?

B: Because you _____________the job I had asked you to do on this football team. (not              do)

 

  1. As the quarterback BJ was ________________the field, quarterback Jimmy ____________ the field to replace him. (walk off/ enter)

 

  1. As Corey __________ the ball into the end zone to score, the marching band ran onto the field. (run)
  2. The football players _________ the coach off the field while he __________ the trophy in his arms. (carry 2x)

 

Exercise D:  

Look at the following football videos. Can you try and construct sentences in past tense, using either past simple, past continuous or both PLUS the correct time marker.  As a bonus, can you find which game winner came from a college football game? 🙂

Example 1: The Minneapolis Miracle 

 

Example 2: The Immaculate Reception

 

Example 3: The Catch of the Year

 

Example 4: The Clutch and the Clincher

 

Example 5: The Big Interception

 

Example 6: The Lateral

 

Example 7: The Botch

 

Now that you had a chance to work with the time markers dealing with past continuous and its comparison with past simple and present continuous, the next order of business will be a quiz on American football, its history, culture and all the things many Europeans probably don’t know about. 😉

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