Sunday, October 23, 2016

My week: October 9 ed.

This week, I attended a travel talk in German. I'd attended a different one in the past and it was decent. This one was...well, it wasn't my style, let's say. It wasn't so much a talk as it was him showing a very long video of him on his journey, and some of the people he met along the way and joined for meals. Instead of interviewing them or providing some personal interest stories, it was more of a recitation of what happened, or just looooong clips of him and his friend en route.

I attended a language cafe and am still giggling about a conversation. I sat with a doctor and a med school student. We were talking about being tired after eating and in German the student told me it's because there isn't enough "Luft" (air) in the head. Huh? As far as I know, air shouldn't be rushing around in there. I finally realized that he meant Sauerstoff, which means oxygen. We had a good laugh about that one.

Afterward, my friend Ay. came over to work on some travel plans. We're going to visit Katowice in February. We're probably insane to visit Poland in the middle of winter, but it's inexpensive to go then and we haven't visited that country yet. Since I'm from Michigan and I like cold weather, it should be fine. I hope Ay. bundles up since she's from somewhere more temperate.

In German class, we worked on what I call "filler" words. These words add to the conversation and give emphasis but aren't integral to the sentence and can be left off (which is exactly my plans for these dumb things because I feel as if I'll never get them correct). We learned about eben, ja, aber, eigentlich, denn, ruhig, mal, and the one that drives me the most nuts, doch.

The latter is like the Swiss Army knife of German filler words (and I will recognize the irony of using something that's Swiss to describe something German). Anyway, doch can mean a seemingly contradictory bunch of things and often one must hear how the word is spoken to determine how it's being used. attempts to explain it and it takes several pages; you can read it here if you'd like to try to wrap your head around it. Our book in class only gives two sentences. Ha! That's a good one to try to explain something so nuanced. I hear the dang word all the time. I mostly hear it when someone contradicts someone else and it's somewhat like saying, nuh uh!

I was also relieved to learn that eigentlich is a filler word because I hear it all the time and it's been confusing me. In the context that I hear it, it usually seems to mean "really." My friend told me it doesn't mean that and Duden tells me otherwise. However, I've taken it to more mean something like "actually," "in fact," etc. So, can one use eigentlich like wirklich, or is it more like actually only? Leave a comment if you know, please.

After letting all that language learning percolate, the next night I stopped by Ay's house to work on more travel plans. She was cooking chicken biryani and invited me to eat some. I sampled the rice portion and enjoyed the spiciness. She later told me that when she served it to her sister, her sister was asking if I was okay because it seemed really spicy to her. I thought it was perfect. It was funny that the gringa liked the spicy food.

On Saturday night, M and I flew to Edinburgh for a weekend away. I had tried to visit Edinburgh when I was a study abroad student years ago and it was flooded. I was excited to finally see it, a decade later. More will follow...maybe.


  1. Oh, do please write about Edinburgh! I love all things Scottish!

    I'd say eigentlich is "actually" and wirklich is "really". I would not use them interchangably. Eigentlich is a filler, and wirklich is for emphasis.
    Er ist wirklich doof! He is really stupid!
    Eigentlich finde ich ihn nett. Actually, I think he's nice.

    Doch is one of my favorite German words!
    I'm never going to learn this.
    Doch. (Yes, you will.)

    He didn't call you, did he?
    Doch. (Yes, he did.)

    My husband says we Americans use it too much as emphasis, though. "Das ist doch absurd!" "Ich bin doch hungrig." "Es regnet doch."
    Oh well.

    Sounds like you had a good week!

  2. Thanks for the explanation. Man, filler words can be really nuanced!

    I think that doch can be used to say "nuh uh!" too. Is that right? Like, "Er kommt nicht."

    --"Ja, er kommt doch!"

    I seem to be really bad about writing about trips lately. It takes so long and I've been so laaaazy, but I should just get it together and write something up. It doesn't help that I have to email myself photos from my phone right now and email freaks out and thinks it's spam. It doesn't make it easier, that's for sure! I look forward to fixing my computer.

  3. Now I'm wondering how on earth I missed the two posts about Scotland that you linked to in your next post! I will be reading them post haste!
    I would say "doch" doesn't fit to "nuh uh!", but rather to "Nuh huh!" It's a positive response to a negative statement. The original statement is negative - like in your example "Er kommt nicht." But I wouldn't say "nuh uh" in response to that, rather "nuh huh!" ("Yes he will!") So your example is absolutely correct - I just would use "Nuh huh" instead of "Nuh uh!"

    I can't believe we're having this conversation in midwestern grunt-speak! :-)

  4. Maybe if I get another fever, I could write an abstract for a paper called Discussing the Doch: The Midwestern Linguistic Variation as Expressed as Utterances During Discourse.