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Common expressions, Colloquialisms, and Axioms

Common expressions, colloquialisms, and axioms often differ among languages. It may be entertaining to exhibit some of these differences between English and German.

In English we say, "From beginning to end"; in German, they say, "Von A bis Z" (foon ah bis tzet)(from A to Z). We say, "In for a penny, in for a pound"; they say, "Wer A sagt, mu auch B sagen" (wear ah sawgkt moos ahcchh bay sawgken) (who says A must also say B).

We say, "Now and then"; they say, "Ab und zu" (op oont tzoo) ( from and to).

We say, "Beat it"; they say, "Ab durch die mitte" (op doorcchh dee mitta) (off through the middle). The connotation here is similar to our "Go straight to your room".

In English, "Don't count your chickens before they're hatched"; in German,"Man soll den Tag nicht vor dem Abend loben" (Mon sull den Tawgk nicchht for dem Ahbendt lowben) (Man shall the day not before the night praise). One should not praise the day until it's over.

Now it's time for one of those long compound words at which people are always poking fun. Ab means from and ander means different. Abandern, like our Latin verb amend, means to make different. The name of the result is Abnderung, like our amendment. Antrag is a proposal (literally, to support). So get ready; here it comes; Abnderungsantrag is a proposed amendment. That is pronounced op en der oongs un trawgk. If you count the letters; you will find that both English "proposed amendment" and German "Abnderungsantrag" have seventeen letters. In fact, if you count the space between "proposed" and "amendment"; the English version is longer than the German version. So much for those long German words.

Contributed by Richard Emlin Reed.

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Last Modified Sunday, 08-Feb-2009 06:45:18 MST

© copyright 2007-2009 Richard Berkheiser.