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Category Archives: Translations

Are you a fidget?

According to the Deutsche Welle, “Die Geschichte vom Zappelphilipp” (The Story of Fidgety Philip) was written in 1845 by the German psychiatrist and writer, Heinrich Hoffmann. It’s about a boy who just couldn’t sit still. I think that every German child knows the story.

If someone calls a child a “Zappelphilipp”, whether a girl or a boy, s/he means that it’s a fidgety child.

In English, you’d say to a child, “You’re a fidget. Can you please sit still?”

A little bit of “Kummerspeck”?

“Kummerspeck” is one of those German words that is quite difficult or even impossible to translate. According to the Deutsche Welle, it refers to the extra weight you might put on after a bout of emotional eating. So one might say something like, “My sister has been worrying a great deal about her new job. This hasContinue Reading

A jokester?

How can we translate the German word “Spassvogel” into English? Well, the Deutsche Welle uses the word “jokester”. However, I’d translate the sentence, “Du bist ein Spaßvogel”, quite simply with, “You’re joking”.

A bobblehead toy?

Do we have “Wackeldackel” in Britain? I have absolutely no idea. Of course, I know them here in Germany although, I must confess, I haven’t seen them for years. They’re those dachshund toys, often placed in the back of cars, with heads that wobble. You can find a picture of one on the Deutsche WelleContinue Reading

Are you a Sunday driver?

We don’t only have Sunday drivers here in Germany. We also have them in Britain. They’re the people who drive at a snail’s pace in front of you. Perhaps it’s because they don’t use the car during the week and therefore don’t feel too confident about driving on the roads? You’ll find more about Sunday drivers onContinue Reading

A pair of dungarees?

Do you know what the German word “Blaumann” means? No, it has nothing to do with someone who has had too much to drink. It’s a piece of clothing that a worker might wear. It’s a pair of work overalls, or what I call a pair of dungarees. You’ll find more about this piece of clothing on theContinue Reading

Not your twin

Do you have any idea how you would translate the German word “Doppelgänger”? You might be surprised. It’s “doppelganger”. A doppelganger is a person who looks so much like you that it could be your twin. You might like to read this report about two doppelgängers here. And if you’re really interested in finding someone who looksContinue Reading


In German we always say “Willkommen in …”. In English we use ‘to‘. So we say, “Welcome to …” Welcome to Cologne. Welcome to the company. Welcome to our online meeting.

A bit of legal English

Translating the German word “Rechtsanwalt” can be a bit tricky. According to the Macmillan Dictionary, “lawyer” is the word used for a trained legal adviser (in the UK and in the US). I find their explanation quite helpful: “In the UK, a lawyer who usually works in an office but may also work in some courts of lawContinue Reading

A secondary school-leaving certificate

Another difficult word to translate is the German word “Abitur”. Depending on where you went to school or who you’re talking to, you might say that you have your “A levels”, “Higher School Certificate”, “Highers” or whatever. People might not understand what this is.  My suggestion is to say that you have your “Abitur” (useContinue Reading