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Dead Trousers and Chest Warts

July 28, 2011

Language is funny, isn’t it? I remember when I was a teenager, fighting my way through puberty with the help of a whole host of wonderously creative expletives that (I thought) only my friends and I understood. I was reminded of one of them a few months ago on a trip back to my hometown when I heard a young person shout “That’s shan, that is!”

It could mean anything, couldn’t it but I know for a fact that ‘shan’ means (or at least meant, in my time) something equating to the adult use of the term ‘bollocks’ or ‘bullshit’. The origin of the term fails me- who knows where youth pick up this crap from? Lush, mint, ace, minging (and variations thereof): You’ve got to love the vivid colours of the slang used by the youth of Britain (innit?)

In the same way, I just love learning new crazy terms in my second language (or 3rd if you count Geordie). Who can resist a chuckle when someone asks them to ‘drück mir die Daumen’ (literally ‘to press your thumbs for me’= cross your fingers for me), not to be confused with ‘druck mir die Daumen’, which may result in a very nasty accident with a printer and some thumbs. And what about every employee’s favourite word ‘Feierabend’ (literally ‘celebration evening’= finishing time), a great and important word that doesn’t even exist in a concise form in English!

The German language brings me constant entertainment: I use my chest warts (Brustwarze) to breastfeed, sometimes I only understand train station (ich verstehe nur Bahnhof= I don’t get it) and have hair on my teeth (ich habe Haare auf den Zähnen= I’m sharp-tongued), especially if  it’s dead trousers here (es ist hier tote Hose= there’s nothing going on here). Fantastic, right?

There are a zillion more examples and I’m sure more will crop up at a later date. Until then, I don’t have all cups in the cupboard*… they’re in the dishwasher at the moment…

*(ich habe nicht alle Tassen im Schrank= I’m a few sandwiches short of a picnic)

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