Confuzzledom

Just a place for me to gather my thoughts


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The best (or worst?) of Denglish

Denglish, according to Wikpedia, is a term “used in all German-speaking countries to refer to the increasingly strong influx of English or pseudo-English vocabulary into German.” In its simplest form, Denglish involves replacing some German words with their English equivalents, so someone might say “Ich habe die Files gedownloadet” instead of “Ich habe die Dateien heruntergeladen”. Here, there are perfectly good German words, the speaker just chooses not to use them for some reason.

In other cases, either an English word has replaced the original German to such an extent that most people don’t even know the real German word any more or there never was a German word in the fist place (e.g. der Browser for an Internet broswer) – usually this occurs with new technology that exists in an English-speaking country before it ever comes to Germany. Sometimes (as with the technologies), Denglish involves real English words, used in their correct context. Other times the words Germans use may sound English, but nobody really knows where they came from… or English words have been taken and used in an entirely different context. Mostly, this practice is harmless (although it can get confusing when a German starts speaking to an English native speaker using Denglish words!), but sometimes this practice of insisting on using English words at all costs can be very, very amusing. Here are some Denglish words and phrases that you may hear if you happen to find yourself in Germany…

Handy
We’ll start with the most common. In German, a Handy (pronounced Hendy) is a mobile phone. While a small, portable phone is admittedly pretty handy, I’ve no idea how the phrase came about! I have, however, been asked in English “Do you have a handy?”. Needless to say, if I didn’t actually speak German I would have had no idea what they wanted! And just to make things even more confusing, the Swiss don’t use the word Handy! (Their word for mobile phone is Natel).

Beamer
This was one of the first Denglish words I heard when I came to Germany, and I had no idea what they were talking about. From the context, it was clear that they didn’t mean a car which would be spelled Beemer anyway), but what did they mean? After being shown the object in question, it all became clear. A Beamer is a projector! I suppose it does beam images onto a screen, so it makes sense in a way…

Despite the scary sounding name, it won't ACTUALLY peel all your skin off...

Despite the scary sounding name, it won’t ACTUALLY peel all your skin off…

Peeling
Nope, not what you do with an orange. Shower scrub or body scrub. I really, really hope this doesn’t do what it says on the tin…

die City
To English speakers, a city is a large town… London, Paris, Rome, Sydney… all cities. (Well, in certain circles London is The City, but that’s irrelevant here). Not so in Germany… here “die City” is merely part of a large town. The bit that we would call the city centre, or down town. So don’t be confused if you see signs pointing you towards “City” when you think you’ve already entered the city you were aiming for. It’s just the Germans messing with English again! (For fairness’ sake, I should add that lots of places do still use the German words Zentrum (centre) or Stadtmitte (town/city centre) on their official signs.)

"Public viewing" at the 2014 world cup final... I promise there were no bodies in sight!

“Public viewing” at the 2014 world cup final… I promise there were no bodies in sight!

Public Viewing
While Germans used to get together to watch sporting events “auf Großleinwand” (on a big screen), in recent years the term Public Viewing has become more popular. This year, Karlsruhe even had Public Viewing at the football stadium for Germany matches! The only problem is that, in British English at least, public viewing traditionally refers to the practice of leaving a deceased person in an open coffin during the wake, so that the public could come and have alook/pay their last respects (this is also known as lying in state and was done when the Queen Mother died, for example).

Bodybag
This one technically goes back to a brand name, but I had to include it because it’s just too amusing! I’m sure well all know that an English body bag is something used for storing and transporting corpses. In Germany, meanwhile, since the mid-90s the term Bodybag has been used to refer to a type of bag that’s worn on the back with a strap going diagonally across the front. (A messenger bag is a type of “Bodybag”, but I’ve also seen some that look like a backpack but with only one strap). Somebody at whichever company started this trend obviously didn’t do their research properly…

There are, of course, other Denglish expressions, but these are the only ones I’m going to go into for now. If you have a favourite Denglish expression (or even something similar in another language) please feel free to let me know in the comments!


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Café Pan, Karlsruhe

On the first day of my brother’s visit, we decided to go out for brunch. I had been to Café Pan, an organic café and creperie, once before and really enjoyed it, but had then promptly forgotten its existence until it was reviewed on Karlsresource. They are closed on Sundays, which limits the opportunities for me to visit, but being off work during the week meant I could actually go there. On my first visit, we sat outside in the courtyard, but as it was raining off and on the day my brother and I went, we decided to see what it looked like inside.

Inside Café Pan

Inside Café Pan

The menu mainly consists of numerous crepes, both sweet and savoury, but there are also cakes and a soup of the day. We, of course, opted for crepes. The savoury ones are made without egg and milk, so are suitable for vegans and those who are lactose intolerant. Sweet ones are not vegan friendly, but on request they will make a sweet crepe using the vegan batter from the savoury crepes. Here’s the list of sweet crepes, photo courtesy of my brother:

cafe pan menuMy brother went for the Schokolade crepe, which was topped with Nutella. Meanwhile, I decided to start my day with something savoury and had a spinach crepe, consisting of spinach (obviously), tomato and cheese… I asked for it without the egg.

Spinach crepe

Spinach crepe

To drink, we both opted for coffee, although various freshly squeezed juices were available. Maybe I’ll try one of those next time. My brother and I both thoroughly enjoyed our crepes and I will definitely be going to this café again… hopefully it won’t take me several years this time!

 


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The dreaded “cancer check”

I still have one more post to write about Vienna, then I want to tell you about my brother’s visit, but WordPress have changed something on the media library page and now uploading photos from my home computer is excruciatingly slow (even worse than before), so here’s something else for you…

Recently, I went for my second ever smear test in Germany – referred to here as the Krebsvorsorgeuntersuchung, or cancer prevention check. (No, I hadn’t been neglecting my health before last year… I just found it easier to get such things done in England!)

Tux the nurseIf you are a woman in Germany and you’ve ever been on an expat message board or even spoken to someone who moved to Germany from an anglophone country, you may have heard some horror stories about this cancer check. I know I had! From the scariness of the chair to being made to strip completely naked in a cold room… I had heard it all. So when I went for my first cancer check appointment last year, I wasn’t exactly looking forward to it (not that anyone ever looks forward to a smear test, but you know what I mean). Now that I’ve had my second one, and it again turned out not to be so bad, I thought I would write a little report on my experiences. Obviously, I can only tell you about my experience with my doctor, and I can’t promise that you won’t end up with some weirdo who does make you strip off, but hopefully this will at least give you some idea :-) Please feel free to close this window now if you’re not interested in reading about women’s sexual health… and the fun that is trying to pee in a small plastic beaker without the benefit of a penis!

So, we’ll start with the urine sample. When I’ve been for smear tests in England, I’ve been given a sample container in advance and told to fill it and bring it with me to the appointment. This may happen here, too, but at my particular Frauenarzt (=gynaecologist), you’re expected to provide your sample on arrival. Which sort of makes sense, I suppose. At least they know it’s fresh (eew, that sounds wrong!). Last time, I didn’t actually read the little sign on the wall. I knew you were supposed to try and catch mid-flow pee, but I didn’t actually feel like I had to go last time and was worried I wasn’t going to be aple to produce a full sample (sorry, sorry! This is so TMI), so I just put it all in there. This time, I noticed the sign (come to think of it, I’m not sure there even was a sign last time). It didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know, but it did make me laugh. The sign told me to let the first portion of urine go into the toilet, catch the next portion in the beaker and then let the final portion flow into the toilet again. In German, obviously,,, but the word used was die Portion, which I only know in the sense of an actual portion, as in “eine Portion Pommes, bitte” (a portion of chips pleased). I have no idea whether it’s normal to refer to your wee as coming in portions, but personally I found the idea hilarious :-D Once you’ve finished peeing, you have to place the beaker (which you should have labelled with your name before peeing in it!) back in the little cupboard where the empty beakers are kept. There’s a second door at the other side of the cupboard for the doctor’s assistant to remove the little beaker.

Next step is getting your blood pressure taken. The doctor’s assistant does this, and at this point will also ask when your last period was. This information all gets written down on a little card for the doctor, then you get to go and sit in the waiting room. I was also given a form with a list of additional services (such as an ultrasound of the womb) that I could have if I paid for them. I chose to just go with the stuff that’s covered by my (public) medical insurance.

The chair is less scary looking in real life!

The chair is less scary looking in real life!

Once the doctor calls you in, the appointment starts with a (fully-clothed!) consultation at the desk. The doctor will read what the assistant wrote about your blood pressure, etc. and ask you whether you’ve been having any issues or problems that you want to talk about. If it’s your first time, they will presumably also explain what’s going to happen – I got the “this is what I’m going to do” talk in England. Consultation over, it’s time for the actual check. First you will be asked to remove the clothing from the lower half of your body. My doctor’s surgery has a tiny changing room for this. Once your bottom half is naked, it’s time for the chair. It looks scary, and it’s not exactly my favourite position to be in, but it not as uncomfortable as it looks! The first time I went, I mentioned that we don’t have such chairs in England and I felt a bit awkward. The doctor’s response was “Yeah, I can understand that but it makes it easier for us to get a proper sample the first time round than if we just do it with you lying on a bed”. Makes sense! And you’re really not in that position for long. I won’t go into detail about what happens in the chair because I’m sure most people reading this know how a smear test works…

The next step is the part that surprised me last year. If you’re 30 years old or above, after the actual smear test the doctor will ask you to put the clothes from your bottom half back on and take off the clothing on the upper part of your body. Then she does a breast examination – just by feeling and looking, but if you’re willing to pay there’s also the option to get an ultrasound of your breasts done. Technically, I was only 29 the first time I went, but I got my breast exam anyway… I was literally days away from my 30th birthday, so I suppose they thought why delay it for a year for the sake of a few days. As far as I’m aware, the smear test in the UK doesn’t involving having to bare your boobs, so that confused me a bit. But again, it goes by quickly and you just have to remind yourself that the doctors do this every single day. No embarrassment necessary!

Aaand that’s pretty much it. Once the breast exam is done, you put all your clothes back on and, if there’s nothing else you want to discuss, you’re good to go. I always ask for a new pill prescription before I leave to avoid having to come back another time. And if you don’t hear anything within two weeks, the test was fine and you’re all done until the following year. (Some doctors may contact you if the test was clear as well… mine doesn’t).

Phew… okay, that’s enough about my sexual health! Back to regularly scheduled Confuzzledom programming!


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A taste of home: Crumpets

A while ago, my dad’s cousin – who lives in America – gave me a recipe for homemade crumpets, so while my brother was over we decided to give it a try. I’m not sure where she got the recipe from, so apologies if it’s yours. I’m going to be explaining how to make the crumpets using German ingredients though, so it’s not a direct copy.

First of all, you will need something to use as crumpet rings. Mine was actually a set of two round silicone fried egg moulds that I discovered in a shop in Strasbourg. I think they might have a slightly larger diameter than your average crumpet ring, but they worked really well! And the little handles were useful for removing the rings between crumpets.

Frying the crumpets

Frying the crumpets

Ingredients:

350g (12 oz) strong, plain flour (I used type 1050 because it said on the back it’s the typical flour that baker’s use)
1 level teaspoon salt
1 7g sachet fast-action dried yeast (can be found in the baking section, with the flour and baking powder. Use the Dr Oetker Hefe with “Kein Anrühen. Gelingt sicher.” written on it. There is also a Ruf one, but my supermarket didn’t have that)
300 ml full fat milk
300 ml boiling water
Sunflower oil for frying and greasing

Method:

1. Tip the flour into a bowl (no need to sieve) and add the salt and yeast

2. Pour 300 ml of boiling water over the milk and check that the mixture is luke warm. Ours was not, so we let it stand for 5 minutes before continuing.

3. Add the warm liquid to the flour and beat well for 5 minutes until the mixture is a soft and spoonable consistency.

4. Grease the base of the frying pan and the crumpet rings (if necessary – silicone ones don’t need greasing!), place the rings in the pan and heat until the pan and crumpet rings  (if using metal ones) are hot.

5. Fill the rings about half to three quarters of the way up with batter and cook over a gentle to moderate heat for 8-10 mins. If the bubbles that form fail to pop (which is what creates the little holes), you can gently burst them with a cocktail stick. Then remove the rings and turn the crumpets over.

6. Cook for a further 2-3 minutes until golden, then remove from the pan and enjoy!

We got 10 crumpets from the mixture, but our rings were slightly larger than the size given (6×7 cm). The scones can be left to cool then toasted and can be frozen in bags for up to one month. Allow frozen crumpets to defrost before toasting.

The finished article

The finished article


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Monty Python Live (Mostly)

Last week, I was flicking through one of the free local “what’s on” magazines when I noticed a photo of the Pythons. I closer look revealed that the finale of the new show, “Monty Python Live (Mostly): One Down, Five to Go” was being broadcast live at a local cinema, just down the road from where I live. I mentioed it to Jan and a couple of friends, and four of us decided to go. So 8 o’clock on Sunday, 20 July saw us sitting in the cinema, popcorn at the ready, watching the pre-show while waiting for the main event to start.

The show included both classic sketches (including the dead parrot and the Lumberjack Song) performed live, digital footage of original sketches starring Graham Chapman, and some new/updated bits. In the media, reviews were mixed. Some have said the older sketches were dated, but personally I didn’t see it like that. Some things just don’t age! Although I did think having the scenery match the old-style furnishings in the old recorded parts was an excellent idea. There were cameos by Mike Myers (terrible! Instead of adding to the sketch, he just started sucking up to the Pythons!) and Eddie Izzard (he did a much better job!). My favourite parts were the new additions to the Penis Song (a verse about how nice it is to “own your own vagina” and one about bottoms), the Galaxy Song (because “Pray that there’s intelligent life somewhere up in space, ’cause there’s bugger all down here on Earth” is my absolute favourite line in any Monty Python song) and the excellently choreographed dance for “Sit On My Face” (too funny!). Of course, it was faaaar from being politically correct, but I wasn’t expecting it to be! Personally, I thought the Pythons were just as funny as ever. Knowing that this would be their last performance made it that bit better, although also bitter sweet. All in all,  I’m very glad I happened to notice that this was being shown in Karlsruhe!


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Hoepfner Burgfest 2014

Every year over the Pentecost weekend, one of Karlsruhe’s local breweries has its beer festival. There are live bands, tasty things to eat, face painting and activities for children and, of course beer. Those of you who speak German and were paying attention will probably have noticed that little word “Burg” in the title… meaning castle. There is no actual castle involved, but Hoepfner’s building is made to look like one, earning it the name “Hoepfner Burg” – Hoepfner Castle… so naturally the annual event had to be the Burgfest, or castle festival. The Burgfest has been going since 1983, which makes it as old as me! (Actually a few months older since I was born after Pentecost). It starts on the Friday evening and runs until 8 p.m. on Pfingstmontag (Whit Monday). During that time various bands perform live both in the tent in the top courtyard and on the big stage down in the bottom courtyard. A lot of the bands are the same every year, but there are usually a couple of new ones.

This year, we decided to skip Friday and Saturday (I don’t think I’ve ever been to Burgfest on a Friday). There was a band called “Acoustic Rock Night” performing on Sunday afternoon that sounded interesting, so Jan, K and I took ourselves along for that. A friend of ours who was away from Karlsruhe the weekend of the festival had two beer tokens which he gave to Jan and I, so my first drink was a beer. I chose the Hoepfner Schwarz-Gold (Black-Gold), which is a dark beer. After that I switched to Weißweinschorle (white wine spritzer) and then had two glasses of Erdbeerbowle (strawberry punch). The band was good, but sadly the sound in the tent wasn’t brilliant so most of the time you couldn’t even hear the backing singers! Here are some photos from Sunday afternoon:

It was about 36°C that day and there was no breeze whatsoever so we were all boiling! I bought bottle of water that I drank about half of, using the other half to wet my face, neck and wrists for some momentary relief from the relentless heat! (I had actually brought a bottle of tap water along with me but I had to down that at the entrance. No drinks at all were allowed in!). Towards evening we decided to eat something and I felt like I was going to pass out while queuing for my food with all the ovens and grills blasting at me from behind the stalls. I’ve no idea how the people working there coped! After Acoustic Rock Night, another band came on… I think they were called the Moonlighters? They were okay, but we decided to move down to the bottom courtyard anyway as by that time another friend had turned up who wanted to see the band performing down there. Me and the Heat. K decided to leave at that point as it was still way too hot and she had a headache. Jan and I stayed for a few Me and the Heat songs, but left after having one more drink each. I’m not a huge fan of Me and the Heat, really. Technically (musically) they’re very good, but I don’t like most of the songs they do and they seem very uninterested in the audience somehow.

The next day, Monday, we headed down to see the final act of the Burgfest. The Sean Treacy Band is well known in Karlsruhe… If there’s a festival of any sort, they will almost always appear on the program! And they always close the Hoepfner Burgfest. This time, there was a surprise special guest performing alongside them. Fish, formerly of the band Marillion, was performing in a charity concert with them the following day and had popped along for a quick trial run before the main event. It was a great performance and a nice end to the long weekend.


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The loveliness of Mainz

Mainz

Mainz Marktplatz

On Friday, I had to go to Mainz for a two-day seminar on the world of banks. I was worried that it would be boring, but the presenter did an excellent job of explaining things in an interesting and understandable manner. Always a bonus!

So, it turns out Google Map directions are crap! I took the train to Mainz Römisches Theater, which the seminar holder had said was the nearest train station, and followed a mixture of instructions from Google Maps and the website of the place to get into town. It was all fine to start with, but then Google Maps tried to make me go in a massive circle around the building to approach it from the other side while the website instructions simply said “walk straight down the street until you see the destination on the other side”. Needless to state, I went straight ahead. Silly Google…

After the first day’s seminar, I hung around for a bit with the others who were staying in Mainz and didn’t have plans so that we could arrange to meet up for dinner, then I headed off to find my hotel. The Google maps directions were fine up to a point, then they suddenly stopped making sense. I then bumped into another girl from the seminar who it turned out was looking for the same hotel. We compared maps and found that Google wanted both of us to “take the steps”… except there were no steps on that street! We eventually asked somebody, who said he’d never heard of that hotel or the street it was on, but the streets surrounding it were definitely on the other side of the train tracks. We were standing next to a bridge at the time, so we went under that then started comparing our maps to the street names again. At that point, a woman came up and asked whether we needed any help. She did know the hotel and was able to give us directions (basically follow this hill allll the way round until you get to a REWE. The hotel is next door). Lovely Mainz person number one :-)

We’d taken so long to get to the hotel that I only had time to quickly wash my face and renew my deodorant before heading back out. Part way down the hill I actually spotted some steps. As I was hesitating at the top wondering whether that was what Google had meant, a voice behind me asked whether I needed any help. I said I was just trying to get back to the cathedral area and was wondering whether these steps led anywhere useful. The guy replied that this was the shortcut and that he could tell me where to go. We then went down the stairs and I found myself ona platform at the Römisches Theater train station! So if those were indeed the stairs Google meant, it would probably have helped to be told to go through the station! Helpful Mainz guy then pointed out the ruins of the actual Römisches Theater (Roman Theatre) beside us… I had been wondering! I knew where I was now, so my “saviour” and I parted at the front of the station and I headed off on my way. Thanks to the shortcut, I ended up being early to meet the others and had some time to take photos of the old town. It was a gorgeous day, and the blue skies made the pretty buildings look even better!

I recognised these buildings from when I was in Mainz for the Christmas market If you look closely at the top right-hand corner, you can just about spot where the weird concrete/glass shopping area starts. Soooo not in keeping with its gorgeous old town surroundings!

Mainz

This is where we had the seminar. It’s a weird place, with many twists and turns. We had to go through the cafeteria to get to our seminar room, and finding the toilets was an adventure in itself!

Mainz

After we’d eaten, I headed back to my hotel. It was easy to find now I knew the way! I took the shortcut through the station again, and since it was still light I grabbed a few snaps of the old theatre. The next day, with some time to spare before my train left, I climbed the stairs again and took some photos from above. This is a combination of the photos from both days:

Back at the hotel, my first act was to fling open the window. Outside, things had actually cooled down for the first time in days (actually, as far as I know Mainz had been cooler in the evening all along…) but inside the room it was still hot. I lay on the bed savouring the breeze and following the BBC live stream of the Netherlands match (my TV appeared to be broken). Mainz is on the flight path for Frankfurt Airport so I also got to see some planes coming in.

Can you see it?

Can you see it?

After breakfast the next morning I checked out and headed off for day two of the seminar. We started earlier on Saturday, but were also finished earlier than planned, meaning I was able to get a train home at  5 p.m. instead of the 6:15 that I had originally planned! The seminar was interesting and this time Mainz had showed me its lovely side (the old town, of course, but especially the people – who I would literally have been lost without!).

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