If you are a professional German translator, the chances are that your knowledge of idiomatic German is as good as your knowledge of idiomatic English. Of course, every language has its own idioms and slang. As the years go by, these change and develop and any translator worth his or her salt must keep up with the changes, especially if they specialise in the German translation of business websites and marketing material or works of fiction.
It is the idiomatic peculiarities of every language that make fluency so hard to master and learning spoken German is no exception. Of course, for English speakers who want to master speaking German, the fact that so many Germans these days speak English so well makes it difficult. However, even if you are never going to be a professional German translator there are many advantages of mastering another language. Getting acquainted with the idioms and slang usage in a language makes travel and communication so much more satisfying and fun.
Here are some German idiomatic sayings which you can learn to say when the occasion arises. If nothing else you will probably raise a smile on the German-speaking friend or colleague you try your phrases out on!
Das Geht or das Geht nicht, is German for “That works” or “That doesn’t work, ” although the literal meaning of geht is “go.”
Gute Fahrt is not what you think it is, as Fahrt is the German for “travel,” so the phrase means “have a good trip.”
Der Fußgänger is a “pedestrian” and if the pedestrian comes to a road crossing they may wait for das Ampelmänchen, which is the sign on the crossing signal which indicates that you are allowed to cross – the walking person sign!
If you come across the contents of a bierkiste (a crate of beer), you might have a few too many and say Ich bin krank afterwards (I feel sick) or Ich habe einen kater (I have a hangover).
If someone says something that pleases you or does something to please you, you may say Das ist ja wirklich ganz toll (that’s fantastic!) or Du bist nett (That’s nice of you!)
Learning any language needs work and patience, so mach weiter so! (Keep it up!)