Dammit! – I mean Verdammt!

Sometimes you just get it all wrong. If you’re German, and you stub your toe, you automatically just go ’aua!’ where anyone from the English speaking world would go ‘ouch’!

You really know that you’ve come a long way learning a language when you intuitively start using the local interjections. Some have 1-to-1 translations. Like ‘oha’ which would translate to ‘uh-oh’ or maybe even ‘oops’ in some cases. ’Ach wa?’ could be loosely translated to ‘wuh?’ and ’ähm’ is pretty straight forward simply uhm.

Other words such as genau are a lot harder to translate… because there is no one word to replace it in English. It is one of those German words used for everything. It can mean exact, as in the exact amount to be paid. It can mean correct, as in “you have understood the information correctly”. It can also be used to agree with someone, as in “that is so true”. The Germans are very, very fond of this word.

Another set of words are alter, krass and geil. They can either be used to mean things, but usually they’re just spat out… and to non-native speakers seemingly at random. Alter and Krass are very similar in their uses as interjections, and can of course (to confuse non-natives even more) be combined as per: ‘Alter, Krass!’ Not to be confused with ‘Krass Alter’! Confusing isn’t it. I won’t even try to explain, because it also varies from cultural group to cultural group.

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