Chatterbug’s new podcast, Long Story Short, covers beginners German for English speakers. Each episode is in German and English and takes you on a journey. Listen as the characters navigate their way through chance meetings, miscommunications and surprises.

You can also listen on Apple or the RSS feed. Below is the transcript of the second episode.

Intro

HELENA: From Chatterbug and produced by Weframe Studios, you’re listening to  Long Story Short – Lange rede, kurzer Sinn ein podcast in Deutsch und English.  Language learning is ultimately about a desire to connect more with the people around us: from the hilarious to the complicated, and even the enchanting moments that fill up our days, these stories explore all kinds of connections while teaching you, our listeners, a little bit about language and a little bit about life.

In Season One, we’ll focus on talking points we found to be most valuable for A1 German learners. Our podcast coincides with topics in our Curriculum at Chatterbug.

So, if you’re looking for a deeper dive into language learning, check us out there. In this story look out for the key themes of today covering going out to eat and everyone’s favorite awkward conversation topic: the weather. Without further ado, here’s Judgment Game, meaning Das Spiel der Beurteilung. Sometimes, when meeting a person, it feels like you just click, other times it takes a bit of work.

If it doesn’t come effortlessly at first, is it natural to play the part until it does? Hear Annie story to find out.

Judgement Game

[00:01:08]

ANNIE: I hate to admit it. But I really liked him. It hadn’t been very long, and he was exactly the type of guy I knew my friends wouldn’t. I guess that’s why I did. He was something different and that felt kind of exciting. He also made me nervous, though. And, frankly, I wasn’t sure if I could tell the difference.

Our first date consisted of a drink at a wine bar, one of his favorites: my friends would have called the clientele “pretentious”, but I pushed that thought away. It felt good to be trying new things. When he ordered, he greeted the staff as a regular and seemed conversant with the many options on the menu: I nodded along and followed his lead, as our waiter welcomed us.

PAUL – the waiter: Hallo, wie geht es ihn heute Abend?

ANNIE: Jacob was nonchalant, but still very much on his game.

JACOB: Paul, sehr gut, schön dich zu sehen. Ich sehe ihr habt einen neuen Wein auf der Speisekarte – den kalifornischen Chardonnay, aus 2015. Würdest Du sagen, dass er zu dem Lachs passt?

ANNIE: Paul, our waiter, then responded in a tone that felt like praise.

PAUL – the waiter: Oh, das passt gut. Aber zum Lachs sollten Sie den Riesling probieren, der passt noch besser. Er hat eine schöne, leichte Zitronennote und frische Säure.

ANNIE: But Jacob knew what he wanted.

JACOB: Hmm… Das klingt köstlich, aber ich glaube, ich hätte heute Abend lieber etwas vollmundiges. Ich würde gerne den Chardonnay nehmen.

ANNIE: He was so sure of himself. My eyes scanned the menu, I knew my time was coming. It’s ridiculous how, when the pressure sets in, the simplest of tasks feel tricky. And suddenly that moment felt like a challenge.

I had no idea whether a full bodied Chardonnay would go better with salmon or not. Did I even want salmon?

PAUL – the waiter: Und für die Dame?

ANNIE: All eyes on me.

JACOB: Worauf hast du Lust?

ANNIE: Jacob smiled at me. I responded obligingly:

Für mich bitte auch den Lachs. Ich würde also auch den Chardonnay nehmen.

He looked satisfied.

PAUL – the waiter: Zwei Gläser oder soll ich Ihnen eine ganze Flasche bringen?

ANNIE: It was like Paul was goading me.

 JACOB: Denkst du, du schaffst das?

ANNIE: He asked. No Jacob, I couldn’t. And yet, what came out of my mouth, contradicted that:

Natürlich.

PAUL – the waiter: Sehr gut.

ANNIE: Paul cooed. In my bid to keep judgment out the equation something else had crept up on me: intimidation. But I wasn’t ready to admit that to myself. Yet.

So all things considered, the evening went well. I was on a kind of high, like I had gotten away with something: maybe I had! And I kept it up. We bantered over texts. There was the odd word that I had to google, but so what?! People did that, right? I never let on, I was executing everything impeccably. What was the need in interrupting something going so smoothly for the sake of humility?

So our back and forth continued into a Saturday night not long after, but this time we were joining his friends: this added on the pressure but I tried to keep my nerves at bay. Wine once again in hand, we were sat together. As I sussed the situation, his friends went on.

FRIEND 1: Also, ich plane gerade eine Reise nach Singapur im August.

ANNIE: One began.

FRIEND 2: Wie ist das Wetter dort im August?

ANNIE: Another enquired

FRIEND 1: Wunderbar!

ANNIE:  They were assured.

FRIEND 2: Ist es dann nicht Winter dort? Wird es nicht regnen?

ANNIE: But the other pressed

FRIEND 1: Ja, in Singapur regnet es viel, aber es ist fast immer sonnig und warm. Deutschlands Sommer ist eigentlich kühler als Singapurs Winter.

ANNIE: The conversation trailed off as I sat on the sidelines. I couldn’t help, but notice: they, like him, had that air about them. The one that feels at a slightly higher altitude to your comfort zone. And then..

FRIEND 1: Reist du viel, Annie?

ANNIE: But before I could answer, there was a change in pace. Another friend announced:

FRIEND 2: Oh, das bringt mich auf eine großartige Idee. 

ANNIE: The great idea was a game. One by one we list out various items from a category: countries,  for example. The more sophisticated the choice, the better I assumed: whoever can’t think of one, loses. Another challenge. I needed this to go well, somehow to prove my worth or, at the very least, not to embarrass myself. And the games began.

FRIEND 1: Ist das nicht ein See und kein Fluss?

ANNIE: Somebody asked, trying to one up his opponent.

JACOB: Nein, da hat er schon recht.

ANNIE: Jacob confidently confirmed to the group. His friend looked deflated, but the fun continued.

FRIEND 1:  Der Fluss Ganges.

FRIEND 3:  Mekong.

ANNIE: They were on  great form. I’d used everything I had, but it was on the way back to me.

FRIEND 3:  Pecos.

FRIEND 4:  Belaja.

ANNIE: I couldn’t lose, not look like this. I was out of options. And then, I don’t know how it happened, it just came out:

Encuja.

I made it up. I looked at him almost apologetically, like the pet that knows they’ve disappointed. I was ready to be caught, but… nothing. In fact, he nodded. They nodded  almost approvingly. And the game just continued. For a split second I felt relief.

Then something shifted: what game were we actually playing? Me and him, me and them. All this time I thought they had the answers. Turns out: no one does.

‘Judgement Game’ Breakdown

[00:08:31]

HELENA: And we’re back. We’ve just been listening to Judgement Game or Das Spiel der Beurteilung. Nice. That’s quite a mouthful. This is Danielle.

DANIELLE: Hi!

HELENA: She’s our German learner. And I am Helena, your host. So let’s first talk about what happened in the story. Let’s give a little recap. So the story revolves around Annie and this guy she’s dating, Jacob – or as we say in  German, Jacob.

DANIELLE: Jacob. And she really, really likes him.

HELENA: She really likes him.

DANIELLE: But she seems to be not sure why she likes him. She seems a bit hesitant maybe to say that she likes him?! I got that impression.

HELENA: Yeah, she’s attracted to a snobbery or confidence. So the first scene they’re sitting in a restaurant on their first date – well it’s not a restaurant, it’s a wine bar.

DANIELLE: Nice place for a first date.

HELENA: Yeah. Jacob knows what’s up and they’re discussing what to order with the waiter.

DANIELLE: Right.

HELENA: And then in the Scene Two, they’re at Jacob’s house and Annie’s meeting…

DANIELLE: His friends, right?

HELENA: Exactly.

DANIELLE: Okay.

HELENA: How would you describe his friends?

DANIELLE: They seem kind of like him: snobbish or confident. Very – in English we would say – pedantic, like they seem very focused on small details.

HELENA: Pedantic. Danielle’s an English teacher. Did you catch that?

DANIELLE: And so she seems like she wants them to like her, even though she’s not quite sure if she likes them.

HELENA: Yeah, that’s a good description.

DANIELLE: Yeah. It’s kinda how it is when you’re dating somebody, isn’t it? You want their friends to like you but you aren’t maybe not even always sure that you like them.

HELENA: Yeah. It’s a stressful time. You need to show your best side of yourself.

DANIELLE: Right, right.

HELENA: And you don’t really know what side to show because you don’t really know the people. So it’s like “So, how do I have to act?”  It’s difficult.  And so they are at this party and one of Jacob’s friends decides to play this game where they have to name rivers because I guess that’s what Germans do. No joke though. Do you know the game Stadt Land Fluss?

DANIELLE: Stadt Land Fluss? No, I don’t actually.

HELENA: So it’s a really popular German game that you play in families and basically you have a table and you have, uh, categories and the category is Stadt, which is city, land, which is …

DANIELLE: Country?

HELENA: Yes. And Fluss?

DANIELLE:  River.

HELENA: Exactly. And then you can add some other categories like color, or I don’t know, name of flower. Who knows?! You can decide which categories you want. And then one person has to count, do the alphabet in their head, and the other person says “Stop!”. And then the letter that they end up with, that’s the letter, the first letter you have to fill in into this table.

DANIELLE: Oh, ok!

HELENA: So you have to find, so you land on the letter D you have to find a country that starts with “D”, a river that  starts with “D” and a city that starts with D and then any other categories. And so the first person to fill every row in their table then says “Stop!”. And then you get points according to how much you filled out.

DANIELLE: That sounds like a pretty cool game. And this is something that like German people would play like in families. Like when would you play this kind of game?

HELENA:  Family gatherings, friends like when they get together in the evening or drinking and eating Salzstangen. Yeah.

DANIELLE: So it’s a drinking game.

HELENA: No, it’s not really a drinking game. It’s like, it’s a game for all occasions.

DANIELLE:  But drinks can be add.

HELENA: Yes. Yes, we definitely can. That’s just a general rule. Maybe that’s kind of where she got this idea to play this game.

So they were playing this game and they’re naming a bunch of rivers and then it comes to Annie’s turn and she, what does she do?

DANIELLE: She says the name of a river, but she doesn’t, she’s not sure that that’s actually, like, she thinks she did made that up.

HELENA: Yeah, she made up a name of the river to impress their friends.

DANIELLE: Right.

HELENA: And instead of being like, I don’t know, like “Girl, that’s not a river. You don’t know what you’re talking about”, “Where is that?” they’re like “Oh yes, that one! Quite”. And they don’t catch her on it because then she realizes “Okay, they’re also kind of full of themselves”. They’re also trying to impress each other in their friend group.

DANIELLE: Sure. Very nice lesson to learn.

HELENA: Definitely.

DANIELLE: Never feel ashamed of yourself.

HELENA: So have you ever been on a date in Germany?

DANIELLE: I have unfortunat… well, I have not, um. I came here with my husband so I hope…

HELENA: But you know, like I was thinking we could talk a little about dating culture in Germany.

DANIELLE: Sure. Yeah. I have actually had, I have quite a few single friends here and I have heard a lot about dating in Germany. And I’m always very interested in those stories. ‘Cause I imagine the last place I was dating was obviously the US and sounds like it’s quite different.

HELENA: Yeah. There’s some cultural things that are a little bit different. Like in Germany, it’s not as common for a guy to buy somebody a drink.

DANIELLE: Yeah.

HELENA: Or like this culture of coming up and just talking to a woman out of nowhere. Doesn’t really work.

DANIELLE: Yeah. I’ve heard that guys kind of sit back and wait for the woman to possibly initiate the conversation instead. Or there’s like, maybe like a look that’s exchanged.

HELENA: Quite a lot of staring. I think like the steps that people take are a little bit slower and a little bit more observant, like “Okay. Oh, she’s cute. I mean, I stare at her, if she stares back then maybe I can go over there and stand next to her. And if she looks at me, then maybe I can say ‘Hello!’. And if she says ‘Hi’ back then I can say, what’s your name?” And so there’s like…

DANIELLE: You have to focus a lot with dating!

HELENA: It’s not just like “Let me buy you a drink”.

DANIELLE: Yeah.

HELENA: Anyways, Jacob and Annie had already gotten past that point, by the time they were in the wine bar,

DANIELLE: They were on their first date?

HELENA:  Yeah, they were on their first date.

DANIELLE: Okay.

HELENA: So did you understand the conversation they had in the restaurant, when they were ordering the food?

DANIELLE: I understood a good bit of it. It seemed like they were trying to figure out what to order, which type of wine to order with the salmon?

HELENA: Right.

DANIELLE: Yeah. And so there was a lot of back and forth about like what goes with a certain type of salmon, like whether it’s Chardonnay or Riesling.

HELENA: Yeah. The Riesling has these thick tones.

DANIELLE: Yeah, I totally would say, I think Riesling goes with everything now. It’s such a good wine and Germans do Riesling very, very well.

HELENA: They do. It is a German wine, so hopefully they do it well.  Let’s take a quick listen to that conversation.

DANIELLE: Okay.

ANNIE: I nodded along and followed his lead, as our waiter welcomed us.

PAUL – the waiter: Hallo, wie geht es ihn heute Abend?

ANNIE:

 Jacob was nonchalant, but still very much on his game.

JACOB: Paul, sehr gut, schön dich zu sehen. Ich sehe ihr habt einen neuen Wein auf der Speisekarte – den kalifornischen Chardonnay, aus 2015. Würdest Du sagen, dass er zu dem Lachs passt?

ANNIE: Paul, our waiter then responded in a tone that felt like praise.

PAUL – the waiter: Oh, das passt gut. Aber zum Lachs sollten Sie den Riesling probieren, der passt noch besser. Er hat eine schöne, leichte Zitronennote und frische Säure.

ANNIE: But Jacob knew what he wanted.

JACOB: Hmm.. Das klingt köstlich aber ich glaube, ich hätte heute Abend lieber etwas vollmundiges. Ich würde gerne den Chardonnay nehmen.

ANNIE: He was so sure of himself. My eyes scanned the menu. I knew my turn was coming. It’s ridiculous how when pressure sets in – the simplest of tasks feel tricky. And, suddenly, that moment felt like a challenge. I had no idea whether a full-bodied chardonnay would go better with salmon or not. Did I even want salmon?

PAUL – the waiter: Und für die Dame?

ANNIE: All eyes on me.

JACOB: Worauf hast du Lust?

ANNIE: Jacob smiled at me. I responded obligingly:

Für mich bitte auch den Lachs. Ich würde also auch den Chardonnay nehmen.

He looked satisfied.

PAUL – the waiter: Zwei Gläser oder soll ich Ihnen eine ganze Flasche bringen?

ANNIE: It was like Paul was goading me.

JACOB: Denkst du, du schaffst das?

ANNIE: He asked. No Jacob, I couldn’t. And yet what came out of my mouth, contradicted that:

Natürlich.

PAUL – the waiter: Sehr gut. 

ANNIE: Paul cooed

HELENA: Poor Annie.

DANIELLE: So did she choose the salmon and the Chardonnay because she actually wanted it or was it to impress him?

HELENA: I think it was probably to impress him. I mean, I get that too when I’m at a restaurant and the waiter’s  like “What do you want?”. Like panic. I’m like…Oh my God!

DANIELLE: It always feels like so much pressure! Yeah and that’s actually one difference that I do notice, going to restaurants here in Germany that’s different from the US: in the US they’re like, you know, waiters kind of go overboard with the hospitality and in Germany waiters tend to kind of like look at you, like, “All right, what do you want?”

HELENA: ” I got other tables to wait here. I don’t have all day”. Exactly. So, Jacob noticed that there was a new wine on the menu.

DANIELLE: Right! He noticed that there was a new wine on the menu.

HELENA: He’s a regular. He knows what’s on the menu.

DANIELLE: Yes.

HELENA:  And he asked the waiter  “Würdest Du sagen, dass er zu dem Lachs passt??”. What does that mean?

DANIELLE: It’s like “Would you say that the salmon is good?”. Is that what he’s asking? Or, what goes with it?

HELENA: Exactly.

DANIELLE: Okay.

HELENA: So “Passt zu”.

DANIELLE: Passt zu.

HELENA: Means “does that go with”.

DANIELLE: Oh, okay. I can infer that based on the context, but I was not sure what that actual phrase means.

HELENA: Exactly. And then the waiter says ” Oh, das passt gut”.

DANIELLE: “Das passt gut”.

HELENA: So yes, the Chardonnay  and the salmon go very nicely together. And then he describes…

DANIELLE: So that pairs well.

HELENA: Exactly. Which is important in a wine bar, you know, to get the wine, to pair nice with the food.

DANIELLE: Sure, very important.

HELENA: And then they describe the two wines: you have the Riesling

DANIELLE: The Riesling is little bit “Säure” is like carbonated?

HELENA: “Säure” means acidity.

DANIELLE: Acidity, ok.

HELENA: “Säure” means “sour” und “frische Säure” means “light acidic”.

DANIELLE: Light acidic. Oh, okay.

HELENA: Yeah. Here, it says  “leichte Zitronennote und frische Säure”. So it’s light acidic and…

DANIELLE: Light lemon notes.

HELENA: Exactly. We learned “Zitronen” in our last episode. And then the Chardonnay, how did they describe the Chardonnay ? “Vollmundiges”.

DANIELLE: Vollmundiges. Ah, okay. So like full bodied.

HELENA: Exactly.

DANIELLE: Okay.

HELENA: And “Vollmundiges” kind of more literally translate to “full mouth”.

DANIELLE: Full mouth! Yeah. That’s what I thought. Yeah. Full mouth, full mouth. Vollmundiges.

HELENA: It seems to work well. That’s a nice word. German has a very material language. I like that about it.

DANIELLE: Quite literal.

HELENA: Okay. And then Jacob asks Annie: “Worauf hast du Lust?”

DANIELLE: Worauf hast du Lust?

HELENA: Worauf..

DANIELLE:  Worauf.. hast du Lust?

HELENA: Which means…

DANIELLE:  What would you like? Cause “Lust” this “to like”, yeah, liking, right? Yeah.

HELENA: It’s like, what would you enjoy?

DANIELLE: What would you enjoy. Ok.

HELENA:  Yeah. And then she says “Für mich bitte auch den Lachs” and then she says “Ich würde also auch den Chardonnay nehmen”.

DANIELLE: Oh, okay.

HELENA: So that’s, she actually uses two different forms of, a way of saying “What you would like to eat?”.  She says: “Fur mich…”

DANIELLE: Fur mich

HELENA: ..the lalala”, and then you can also say “Ich würde also …lalala… nehmen”

DANIELLE: Yeah, “nehmen” Okay. “Ich … nehmen”, I will take.

HELENA: Yes, exactly. And then the waiter asks if they would prefer a bottle or two glasses.

DANIELLE: They go with the, do they go with the bottle? They should go with the bottle.

HELENA: So it’s “Zwei Gläser “.

DANIELLE: Zwei Gläser.

HELENA: Or “eine ganze Flasche “.

DANIELLE: Eine ganze Flasche

HELENA: Exactly.

DANIELLE: A whole bottle or two glasses. 

HELENA: So Danielle, how would you order a whole bottle of Chardonnay?

DANIELLE:  Ehm.. Ich würde eine ganze Flasche nehmen.

HELENA: Exactly. Ich würde also eine ganze Flasche Chardonnay bitte.

Scene Two: party.

DANIELLE: Party.

HELENA: So the next part of the dialogue is about, is when Annie and Jacob are with their friends and playing well, they haven’t started playing the game yet, but they are talking about where they want to go on vacation.

DANIELLE: Right. Yeah. So Singapore was mentioned.

HELENA: It was.

DANIELLE: Yeah. And they were talking about what the weather is like in Singapore.

HELENA: Exactly.

DANIELLE: Yeah. And how it compares to German weather?

HELENA: Wow. You’ve understood so much. Let’s take a listen.

ANNIE: His friends went on:

FRIEND 1: Also, ich plane gerade eine Reise nach Singapur im August.

ANNIE: One began.

FRIEND 2: Wie ist das Wetter dort im August?

ANNIE: Another enquired

FRIEND 1: Wunderbar!

ANNIE:  They were assured.

FRIEND 2: Ist es dann nicht Winter dort? Wird es nicht regnen?

ANNIE: But the other pressed

FRIEND 1: Ja, in Singapur regnet es viel, aber es ist fast immer sonnig und warm. Deutschlands Sommer ist eigentlich kühler als Singapurs Winter.

ANNIE: The conversation trailed off as I sat on the sidelines. I couldn’t help, but notice: they, like him, had that air about them. The one that feels at a slightly higher altitude to your comfort zone. And then..

FRIEND 1: Reist du viel, Annie?

ANNIE: But before I could answer, there was a change in pace. Another friend announced:

FRIEND 2: Oh, das bringt mich auf eine großartige Idee. 

ANNIE: The great idea was a game.

HELENA:  Right. So they’re talking about Singapore, Singapore in August

DANIELLE: In August

HELENA: Or in German?

DANIELLE: Singapur im August.

HELENA: Im August, exactly.

DANIELLE: Germans really like to talk about the weather.

HELENA: They do. And they like to talk about traveling too ‘cause they have all that nice juicy vacation time.

DANIELLE: I do enjoy my German vacation.

HELENA: It’s really, it’s a blessing.

DANIELLE: Yes.

HELENA: So how is the weather in Singapore in August? I’ll August.

DANIELLE: Mmmh. Wunderbar. Sonnig? Aber… ein bisschen regnet? A little bit of rain?

HELENA: No…

DANIELLE: They talked about rain at some point

HELENA: Es regnet viel.

DANIELLE: It rains a lot. Oh, okay.

HELENA: But it’s still sunny and warm: “sonnig und warm”. So they compared Germany’s summer with Singapore’s winter. Do you remember what they said about that?

DANIELLE: Yeah. I think they said Singapore’s winter is still warmer than Germany’s summer.

HELENA: Exactly. So what’s the Singapore’s winter?

DANIELLE:  Oh, okay.  “eigentlich”?

HELENA: “Eigentlich” means “actually” or “technically”. It’s sort of like a filler word that people use.

DANIELLE:  Okay.

HELENA: Eigenthlich… So you can also say: “Eigenthlich muss ich mein Zimmer aufräumen, aber ich sehe lieber fern” so “Technically I need to clean my room, but I rather watch TV”.

DANIELLE: Okay. She picks up on that. The friends are cool, like him, right in their- she said – slightly higher altitude. What suggested that?

HELENA: I mean, maybe this word “eigentlich” can be used to, I have that sort of air, like a, an air of  knowing more, or having a better understading.

DANIELLE: ‘Cause I guess in English, if you were to say like “technically”

HELENA: “Well, technically Singapore it’s quite warm in the winter, even warmer than Germany”

DANIELLE: Exactly!

HELENA: But I think it’s more about what they were talking about and maybe… who knows, what’s going on in his life: maybe she can’t afford to travel and…

DANIELLE: Yeah, sure. And not everybody likes to travel. Right? Like, some people like to be home.

HELENA:. Where do you all have to travel these days so much? I never understood this. So that’s all that they really talked about in that short exchange, but then her friend was like, “We got to play a game”.

DANIELLE: Let’s play a game, ‘cause this is after all a party.

HELENA: Exactly. Let’s play “Stadt Land Fluss”.

DANIELLE: Stadt Land Fluss

HELENA: Actually, your friend is just like “Let’s play Fluss Fluss Fluss “

DANIELLE: Fluss Fluss Fluss .which is way catchier.

HELENA: Let’s take a listen at that dialogue.

ANNIE:

And the games began.

FRIEND 1: Ist das nicht ein See und kein Fluss?

ANNIE: Somebody asked, trying to one up his opponent.

JACOB: Nein, da hat er schon recht.

ANNIE: Jacob confidently confirmed to the group. His friend looked deflated, but the fun continued.

FRIEND 1:  Der Fluss Ganges.

FRIEND 3:  Mekong.

ANNIE: They were on  great form. I’d used everything I had, but it was on the way back to me.

FRIEND 3:  Pecos.

FRIEND 4:  Belaja.

ANNIE: I couldn’t lose, not look like this. I was out of options. And then, I don’t know how it happened, it just came out:

Encuja.

I made it up.

HELENA: Encuja. I’m actually planning on going to Encuja later this summer. 

DANIELLE: Is that a real place?

HELENA: No, I just made that up. It’s the made-up river

DANIELLE: It’s like “Wait, I’ve never heard of this. Maybe I’m not as well traveled as I thought!”

HELENA:  That’s what Annie thought about all of Jacob’s friend. And then she saw right through them.

DANIELLE: She’s like “Oh, okay. I see what you guys are doing here”.

HELENA:  I caught a little false friend here in our first German sentence. It says:  “Ist das nicht ein See und kein Fluss?” Do you know what “See” is in German?

DANIELLE: Is it see?

HELENA:  It’s not actually.

DANIELLE: Oh, it’s not?!

HELENA:  That’s a bit confusing.

DANIELLE: What is See?

HELENA: See is a lake.

DANIELLE: Ah, it’s a lake. In all cases?

HELENA:  It can also be a sea. But a lot of people don’t understand that “See” is a lake in German because they think it’s a see. So if you say “I’m going to the lake”, there’s a lot of lakes around Berlin for example, you could say “Ich fahre zum See”

DANIELLE: Ah, okay. I just made a connection, ‘cause I like to go to Weisensee

HELENA:  Weisensee , exactly.

DANIELLE: Don’t even think about.

HELENA:  Is it a see?

DANIELLE: It’s not, it’s definitely lake.

HELENA:  Yeah. So watch out for that, German learners. So maybe we want to have some fun cultural knowledge here. I wrote down where all of these rivers that they have mentioned are, because I didn’t know that when I first listened to the story. So I thought maybe it’d be interesting for our listeners.

So the Mekong, do you know where that is?

DANIELLE: Is that in Vietnam?

HELENA:  Yeah, it’s in Vietnam. It’s.. it actually goes through many countries in Southeast Asia. And the Pecos?

DANIELLE: Pecos?

HELENA:  It’s traveling through New Mexico and Texas.

DANIELLE: Oh, okay.

HELENA:  Yeah. I didn’t know that either. And I’m from the States, but I don’t know anything about geographies.

DANIELLE: It’s fine. And I don’t travel to Texas and New Mexico very often.

HELENA:  Yeah. You’re from the East Coast, I’m from the West Coast: we don’t know very much about the middle of the US. And then there’s the Belaja.

DANIELLE: Belaja. Maybe that’s in Australia

HELENA:  Close. Russia.

DANIELLE: It’s not close!

HELENA:  And then there’s Aras.

DANIELLE: Aras.. Let’s say Kenya.

HELENA:  Okay. No, Turkey and Armenia.

DANIELLE: Oh, okay. Not that far off.

HELENA:  I’m telling you: Jacob’s friends are really smart. They know all these rivers I haven’t heard of any of them, except for the Fluss Ganges, the Ganges river.

DANIELLE: The Ganges River

HELENA:  Is going through China I believe, righ?! No, it’s India. Oh gosh. And the Encuja river. Where’s that?

DANIELLE: Encuja. Oh, that sounds like somewhere I should know, but I don’t. So you’ll have to tell me.

HELENA: Oh, it’s nowhere. Annie’s mind.

DANIELLE: Oh, right! That’s the fake one. Oh my God. She even tricked me!

HELENA: That’s fun. Okay. Well, that’s a wrap on our breakdown.

DANIELLE: Okay.

HELENA: I hope you learned a little bit about language and little bit about life and a little bit about geography.

DANIELLE: I did. I did. I learned a little bit about everything today.

HELENA: Thank you so much for joining me.

DANIELLE: Thanks for having me!

HELENA: Looking forward to seeing you next week.

DANIELLE: Okay. See ya! Bye!

HELENA: That was Danielle and I are breaking down Judgment Game. Hopefully found our recap useful and can use it to understand the story a little bit better. So as you guys know, I’m not a language teacher, but we do have our wonderful in-house teachers Inda and Steffi who are going to break down some memory techniques that they use to retain vocabulary that we learned and also give you some handy tips on memorizing German grammar. Take it away, girls!

Grammatically Speaking

[00:20:24]

STEFFI: Thanks, Helena. So in the story we have a lot of questions: we have “Wie geht es ihn heute”, for example, when the waiter greets the couple. Or “Worauf hast du Lust?” when Jacob asks Annie what she wants to eat and drink. Or we have “Wie ist das Wetter im August?” when Jacob’s friends are talking about Singapore.

So we do have a lot of questions here. But I would like to talk about the W Questions, W Fragen in German. Those are really interesting because I mean Jacob should have asked more W Questions, don’t you think?

INDA: Yes, that’s true. Yes-no questions are usually not very useful for engaging in conversation. So that’s, I think, one of the characteristics of this person: not engaging a lot in conversation, but rather just showing off and..

STEFFI:  Yeah.

INDA: …testing her

STEFFI: which is kind of weird because it’s, it’s a date, right?! So they both should be interested in each other. We do have a yes-no question, actually: “Reist du viel, Annie?”, one of Jacob’s friends asks her that. And they don’t even give her a chance to answer, which also indicates..

INDA:  Right. The whole situation is a super awkward, but I think one of the interesting parts of this story are all this questions, as you said, with the W questions, right? And these are the words that, as a beginner student, can be super confusing because they all start with the same letter. So, I brought you some rhymes: so, I’m going to introduce some of those and rhyme them with some other words that we have learned. In the past episode, we were talking about “der”, “die” and “das”, three articles in German, and those, coincidentally – maybe consonantly, maybe not – rhyme with the three perhaps more important question words Wer, Wie and Was.

So Wer- der, Wie-die, Was-das.

STEFFI: Oh, that’s right. Huh.

INDA: So I din’t come up with that rhyme. It’s actually from Sesamstraße, Sesame Street, and they also have another verse that I would like to quote here, which is fantastic:

Wieso? Weshalb? Warum?

STEFFI: Which means?

INDA: Why? Why? Why? It’s  like three different words for why, right? Wieso? Weshalb? Warum? And the second verse is: Wer nicht fragt… Do you know how it goes?

STEFFI: bleibt dumm?

INDA: Yeah. He, she who doesn’t ask remains dumb. Right? So this show, probably everyone knows it, it’s about answering questions usually children have. I think they were targeting their audience very well here. Wieso? Weshalb? Warum?

STEFFI: So, yeah, those are all the questions Jacob should have asked Annie, but he didn’t. So, are they really so difficult? All these questions with W?

INDA: They’re just difficult to memorize because they’re all similar. But I think in the similarity, there is the power for memorization. If you bring those, instead of trying to learn all the words at the same time, all the question words at the same time, try to connect those words to another word that you already might know in German, for example: “Wann?”, which means “When?”, rhymes with “Dann”, which is also the answer, which means “Then”. I don’t think those are coincidences, I think language is way more logic than we think sometimes.

So there are lots of this consequences in questions and answers in German that you can actually put together as you learn them and think of Jean-Claude Van Damme.

STEFFI: Right.

INDA: When you’re learning Wann.

STEFFI: So, what you would do is try to think about other words that rhyme with those

INDA: Yeah.

STEFFI: Just like have some kind of connection as we talk the other time, we were talking about articles and just associating them with something in particular. Right?

INDA: Right. This is another memory technique that I use and it’s just more like a semantic association of objects, nouns, something that makes kind of a story in my mind or a connection in my memory that this is a rather more, I would say, yeah, it appeals more to the ear, right? If you read those out loud and you kind of accustom your ears to the sound, it’s a very nice technique, that I actually discovered by accident.

When I moved to Germany, I was already pretty fluent in German but I continued to memorize numbers in Spanish. So whenever I was prompt to say my phone number in German, I couldn’t pull it from memory in German because I had memorized it in Spanish and the rhythm in my mind was like all Spanish.

I couldn’t even break the numbers differently as I had memorize it: if I had memorized it 4-2-3 I could not say 423. So this is when I discovered: Wow! My memory works with sounds and with rhymes and patterns. And you can use that in language, that’s actually very powerful.

STEFFI: That’s true. I can only say my number in Spanish as well and it’s just because I learned it like that.

INDA: Right.

STEFFI: And that, I mean, problem solved right now because I ended up, I don’t know any numbers, any phone number by heart, so…

INDA: Yeah, right. But yeah.

STEFFI: So, so when I would teach my students these W Fragen, I would try to make them think of a story, of a crime for example, where you would ask, you have to ask all those questions in order to solve the crime or the mystery. You know the board game Clue, for example? Which is too simple actually: you just have to say, who did it with what weapon and where.

INDA: Right.

STEFFI: So you wouldn’t ask all the other questions. So what I would tell them is just make it more complex, make that crime scene more and more complex and just think about all the other questions you would ask in order to solve a mystery. You have to know who did it, how he or she did it, what happened, where it happened, when it happened and why it happened?

I would tell them to just come up with a story where they could associate those question words with.

INDA: That’s great. I love that technique as well. I never played that one in German.

STEFFI: I love that too, but yeah, it’s way too simple.

INDA: Yeah, that’s awesome. Well, I hope that was helpful and see you next time! Tschüss!

STEFFI: Tschau! Auf Wiederhören!

INDA:  Schönen Tag!

HELENA: Who knew that Sesame Street tune would come in handy while learning German?! Well, that’s a wrap guys. Thank you so much to Danielle, Inda and Steffi for joining us for this week’s episode of Long Story Short. A special thank you to our actor, Rosa Landers for her reading of this episode.

If you’re following along with Chatterbug’s Curriculum you can find the links to those episodes topics in the podcast notes and on Chatterbug’s blog. Long Story Short is from Chatterbug and produced by Weframe Studios. We will have a new story for you next Tuesday. I’m Helena and see you next week. Tschüss!