Sprechen Sie Deutsches? Eh…no?

I’ve moved to Basel with only a few, yet what I consider essential words of German. For instance Achtung Baby is an obvious one which could be used in all manner of exchanges. Similarily shouting “Schnell Schnell” at the top of my voice (from my World War II film vocabulary) would also elicit a response. A wealth of knowledge was gleaned from the many episodes of “Allo, Allo” I watched as a kid. Who could ever forget the “Fallen Madonna with the Big Boobies”, the sultry Yvette Carte-Blanche or the brilliance of Herr Flick. While not altogether educational it was immensely funny.

In everyday life I have learnt that “verboten” means fobidden and I now understand that “geschlossen” means closed. I found that out the hard way. I have translated the large sign outside the local hospital that simply reads “notfall” as meaning emergency. It could equally mean “no parking!”.

When it comes to football I’m also very well adapted. I made sure to catch as many of the games in this years World Cup simply from an educational point of view. I now know that Bastian Schweinsteiger’s surname translates into “Pig Climber”. I’m hoping I’ll never have to use this phrase in everyday conversation. But it has helped, for instance I had schweineschnitzel for lunch the other day and drawing on my deep knowledge of all things “Schwein” in German I deduced that this referred to breaded pig. Which it turned out to be!

“Gasse” means lane I think and “strasse” is obviously street. “Wilkommen” is welcome and the rest you can guess. So I think after ten days in Basel I’m up to speed on the German language! Until I came upon this sign in my hostel. I’m flummoxed and would like some help.

Its got something to do with “birds” and “hygiene”? Should I be worried?

So apart from hygenic birds I’m starting to grasp the old German and finally communicate with some of the locals!


4 responses to “Sprechen Sie Deutsches? Eh…no?

  1. The sign says that for hygienic reasons bird food is not permitted on the roof terrace because it will attract vermin.

    Congratulations…you learned the word ‘Notfall’ far before I ever did. One time, a few years ago, I was sitting in the steamroom at my fitness center. I saw this button on the wall with the word ‘Notfall’ printed under it. I figured that pressing the button would increase the amount of steam in the room. However, since I didn’t really know what ‘Notfall’ meant, I fortuntately decided not to press the button. As I was leaving, I asked a trainer who speaks English what ‘Notfall’ was in English. He told me, and I then relayed my steamroom story to him. He told me that if I had pressed it, he and another trainer would have come running down into the steamroom with emergency medical kits, and an ambulance would automatically have been called. Doh!

  2. I don’t know what “Ungeziefer” means, either, but it sounds pretty evil. Don’t feed those birds!

  3. Thanks TBF,

    I’m hoping I don’t have to use any “notfall” buttons while I’m here! But it is good to know!

  4. I like to read your blog. Very intresting and fun to read about your first german words, but I think it will come much better when you try to comunicate with the first persons in swiss dialect.

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