It Turns Out I’ve Really Been Telling You About My “Sour Pickle Time”

Siebenhundertachtundneunzig. This is a German word I learned today. I think most English speakers would agree this is a bit intimidating. The German language does not necessarily have a reputation for being an easy language to learn or to speak, but, after around 5 weeks of German classes, the logic of German is finally becoming more apparent.

Lets go back to siebenhundertachtundneunzig- terrifying, I know. But, it becomes a lot less scary when you know it really just means 798. Compound words are the root of fear for the language. Germans, being the efficient people that they are, group a lot of words together to save time. Aren’t spaces just a pain? Honestly the worst. It hurts me just writing this with all the unnecessary spaces.

Numbers are the scariest things to look at, because they can get pretty lengthy. Zweimilionfunfundachtzigtousandseibenhundertsechsundachtzig. No, a small animal did not just run across my keyboard, that is a word. I think once I get back to the States, I’ll try casually throwing that one around. Yeah, I can pronounce 59 letter words, no big deal.

While this looks extremely complicated, the german language actually makes so much sense. Here’s my favorite example. “Schrank” is the German word for “closet”. What do Germans call a refrigerators? A Külschrank, or, “Cool Closet”, because a cool closet is exactly what a refrigerator is. Flashlight in german is translates to “pocket light”. I told my host family how funny I thought this was, and they told me they had never really thought of it that way. When they pondered it for a moment, they found it funny to. “It really IS a cool closet!”. The next day, my host sister sent me more examples of this:

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So, as a little proof I’ve actually learned something, here’s a little bit about me:

Ich heisse Sara. Ich bin studentin, und Ich studiere Ingenieurwissenschaften. Ich komme aus den USA in Texas. Mein hobby ist backen. Heute ist Freitag. Ich mag Kuchen und Kartoffeln. Mein Mutter heisst Cari. Cari kommt aus Georgia. Mein Vater kommt aus New York, und er heisst Frank. Ich habe ein Bruder. Mein Bruder heisst Sam. Sam ist ein Verkäufer und Student. Deutschland ist wunderbar. Tchüss!

As I have learned more and more German, I finally began to understood the title of my blog- Sauregurkenzeit. During the time-telling unit, I learned “Zeit”, which means “time”. This made sense, as my understood definition of saurengurkenzeit involved a certain period of time. Then, we moved on to food, and this is where my confusion began. “Saure” means sour, and “Gurken” is pickles. Sour pickle time? I felt cheated. The Internet had lied. Some German was pulling a prank on me. But, my host family came through once again.

Apparently, sauregurkenzeit is more of a metaphor. The word originated in Northern Germany, where my host family is from. As I learned, pickles are a popular food in Germany, making cucumbers a widely grown crop. But as all crops are, cucumbers are seasonal. When you try to grow cucumbers in the off-season, it produces-maybe you’ve already guessed it- sour pickles. So, many people, instead of producing sour pickles, use this time to take a vacation from cucumber farming and go out on an adventure. So even though the word doesn’t literally mean what I thought it did, I still think it applies. This trip is my sauregurkenzeit. Although the pickles will soon be sweet again and I will have to return home, I know my time was not wasted, and I’ll always be looking forward to the next season of sour pickles.

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One thought on “It Turns Out I’ve Really Been Telling You About My “Sour Pickle Time”

  1. I’d like to correct your German piece and add some explanation.

    Ich heiße Sara. (following double vowels and long vowels the double s converts to ß, but as you don’t have it on your keyboard, ss is ok (as it is in Switzerland). Ich bin Studentin (Nouns are written with a capital letter) (no comma before the „und“) und ich (other than the English I the „ich“ is not capitalized) studiere Ingenieurwissenschaften. Ich komme aus den USA in Texas. Mein Hobby ist Backen (Again nouns start with a capital letter. Even if „backen“ is a verb it is used here as a noun, therefore the capital „B“). Heute ist Freitag. Ich mag Kuchen und Kartoffeln. Meine (female form) Mutter heißt (as above ß) Cari. Cari kommt aus Georgia. Mein Vater kommt aus New York (no comma) und er heißt Frank. Ich habe einen (accusative) Bruder. Mein Bruder heißt Sam. Sam ist ein Verkäufer und Student. Deutschland ist wunderbar. Tchüss!

    Small mistakes, even a German pupil wouldn’t be better! Chapeau! 🙂

    Like

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