German Words Explained  
   
 
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Schwibbogen

December 9th, 2009

A Schwibbogen is an arc-shaped wooden candle holder that originated in the Erzgebirge area of Germany.

Modern versions have electrical candles on them and can often be seen in people’s windows.

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Weihnachtskrippe

December 2nd, 2009

Weihnachtskrippe is the name given to a Nativity scene in Germany, often found in town centres during advent.  It depicts the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem.

Many families have their own model Weihnachtskrippe at home.  Some of these are self-made, others have been collected over a period of time with a new figure being added each year.  Typically, these are also passed down through the generations.

Surprisingly, they were banned in churches at the end of the 18th Century.

To hear a simple explanation and a short discussion in German, listen to the podcast:

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Finanzkrise & Notleidende Banken

November 25th, 2009

The word Finanzkrise has been used in the past months to describe the state of the World economy.

But generally it is used to refer to any form of crisis in the finance markets.  It is, for example, used to describe the inflation of 1929 but also the situation in the Netherlands in the 1630s.

It was selected by the Gesellschaft für deutsche Sprache to be the “Wort des Jahres” (Word of the Year) in 2008.

Coupled with this is the “Unwort des Jahres” of the same year: Notleidene Banken.

This term is ironically used to talk about the banking situation in 2008, as many banks had to be “rescued” by their relevant national governments.

Previously many banks had been making large profits and even after the crisis were still paying their managers high bonuses, whilst at the same time accepting state help.

To hear a simple explanation and a short discussion in German, listen to the podcast:

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Herdprämie

November 18th, 2009

The word Herdprämie is a term that is often used in the media to refer to a scheme planned by the German Government to reward parents who stay at home to look after their children.

There have been several versions on this plan, with most of the ideas resulting in parents receiving a set amount of money in some form or other, which they can either keep if they stay at home to look after their children before they reach school age, or to spend on a place at a Kindergarten.

A cynical view of this is that it means paying mothers for spending more time in the kitchen, hence the Prämie (premium, ie. reward) for being at the Herd (cooker).

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To hear a simple explanation and a short discussion in German, listen to the podcast:

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Download the MP3 file



Freiwillige Ausreise

November 11th, 2009

Freiwillige Ausreise is a term that is used to refer to a method of sending asylum seekers back to their home countries.

For those who have had their asylum applications turned down, this is the chance to leave the country “voluntarily”, rather than go through the appeals process and possibly be deported.

To hear a simple explanation and a short discussion in German, listen to the podcast:

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