A running pass for a pig and a happy ending

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Christmas Eve! Christmas Eve means a bigger door, usually a door made of two parts. So of course you get two idioms today. Merry Christmas!

Idiom: Jemandem den Laufpass geben

Literal translation: To give somebody the running pass.

Alfonso is waiting in front of the dance studio that he teaches at twice a week. Gudrun has asked him if Günther could join for a tango lesson. Alfonso thinks everyone should learn how to dance tango so he is happy to take Günther with him. Germans have to learn a lot about tango, he thinks, and remembers his diligent dance students who after a while – like two years – finally discover the passion in the dance. He wonders if Günther has more Latin vibe in his blood. The traffic light opposite the studio turns green and Alfonso sees Günther walking over the street towards him with light steps. They greet each other and Alfonso takes Günther inside. “So what are you hoping for with tango lessons?” Alfonso asks interested. “I am up for finding a great girl”, Günther replies. Gudrun’s boyfriend is confused. As far as he remembered Günther had a girlfriend. The tango aspirant shrugs. “Elvira gave me the running pass”, Günther explains succinctly, “so it’s over”.

If you let the pig out, you are whooping it up.

If you let the pig out, you are whooping it up.

Idiom: die Sau rauslassen

Literal translation: To let the sow/pig out

 

During the last month, lots has changed for our German friends. Detlef won the lottery, Sabine got a new job, Günther lost his girlfriend and took up a new hobby that he shares with Alfonso, and Elvira fell in love with Rüdiger whom she now dates. Despite these changes, the friends decided they still want to celebrate New Year’s Eve together. Instead of going to a cabin in the country side, they have arrived at the agreement to spend the night out at a party in a club. “It is going to be an epic evening!” Sabine is sure. “We will dance the night away!” Alfonso says and Günther nods while he is tapping his foot to a tango tune in his head. “Oh yes”, Rüdiger agrees, “we will let the pig out on New Year’s Eve!”

 

 

A colorful dog

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Idiom: ein bunter Hund sein

Literal translation: to be a colorful dog

Rüdiger and Elvira are strolling down the main street. It is very Christmassy outside with all the lights in the city and Christmas music coming from the shops. For the first time, Elvira and Rüdiger are walking hand in hand. As they come by the Christmas Market, someone stops them. “Well, hello there!” a lady calls. “Is that you, Rüdi?” He smiles. “What are you doing here, Ann-Kathrin?” he asks cheerful. The two talk for a while and Rüdiger presents the lady as an old school mate. When they start walking again, they only make it 378 metres before they are stopped again.

A colorful dog is a person that everyone knows.

A colorful dog is a person that everyone knows.

This time, it is a couple calling Rüdiger’s name. “So nice to meet you again, Rosemarie, and you too, Karl-Heinz!” The two are former colleagues of Rüdiger. After a little chat, Elvira and Rüdiger go to the metro station. As they go down the stairs, an old man coming up from the metro catches sight of them. “Is that you, Rüdiger?” he shouts happily. “It has been ages!” The old man is one of Rüdiger’s former professors. Elvira shakes her head. They have only walking some steps and met so many people who know Rüdiger. “You really are a colorful dog, you!” she giggles.

 

 

 

Pudding walks

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Idiom: einmal um den Pudding gehen

Literal translation: to take a walk around the pudding

One week night is always cinema night in many German cities. Tickets are cheaper than normal so many take the opportunity to see a movie. Rüdiger had earlier emailed Elvira if she was up for seeing the rerun of “Casablanca”. The two sit next to each other enjoying a shared bottle of beer and a big bag of popcorn. During the movie, Elvira’s eyes get distracted and rest on Rüdiger’s face. When the film is over and the two walk out, Rüdiger accidentally brushes Elvira’s arm. “Hm, I thought”, he says gently, “we could maybe talk a walk around the pudding?”

NB: The expression walking around the pudding, i.e. taking a short walk, is used mostly – maybe exclusively – in North Germany.

 

Whistling pigs

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Idiom: Ich glaub, mein Schwein pfeift

Literal translation: I think my pig whistles.

The next day, Günther and Gudrun eat lunch together. Even Gudrun had noticed the unpleasant fight in the institute’s corridor the day before. Gudrun tries to talk about other things and tells Günther about how she thinks the meat balls are so good at the Helen Enterprise cafeteria. “Sorry, what did you say?” her colleague asks. “Are you even listening?” Gudrun sighs. Günther tells her how his mind keeps wandering off to the problems with Elvira. “Maybe you should apologize”, Gudrun suggests. Günther stabs his meat balls angrily. “I think my pig whistles!” he says short-tempered. “It is not me who keeps looking at others and who comes home late all the

I think my pig whitles means that you cannot believe it, either because the idea is so foreign to you or because of tremendous surprise.

I think my pig whitles means that you cannot believe it, either because the idea is so foreign to you or because of tremendous surprise.

time!”

 

Tomatoes

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Idiom: Tomaten auf den Augen haben

Literal translation: To have tomatoes on the eyes

Detlef resigned with immediate effect and the institute’s boss decided to give Sabine Detlef’s job. Both Sabine and Elvira are glad about this change and to celebrate it, Sabine has invited everyone for champagne. Once more, all the friends gather and the atmosphere is festive and happy. They raise their glasses to toast for Sabine. As the new lab leader wants to clink her champagne glass with Elvira and Günther, she noticed they have walked outside to the corridor where they are fighting. She tries to discreetly close the door to the corridor and turns around again only to almost walk into Rüdiger. He raises an eyebrow. “Günther has tomatoes on the eyes”, he declares. “He does not see what a great girlfriend he has!”

 

 

 

The hose

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Idiom: auf dem Schlauch stehen

Literal translation: to be standing on the hose

Sabine and Angelika are writing Christmas cards. “Cumpleaños feliz”, Angelika has written in her nicest handwriting in one of the cards with the baby Jesus on the outside. She passes the card over to Sabine who is sitting on her side of the kitchen table, signing the cards after Angelika. “What’s this?” she inquires looking at the Spanish writing. “That’s the one for Gudrun and Alfonso”, her girlfriend explains. “I wanted to make it a little more Spanish so that Alfonso would like it”. Sabine frowns and puts away her pen. “And so you wrote Happy Birthday?” Angelika is already writing the next card. There are 55 cards to be written so she is in a hurry. “What do you mean, happy birthday?” “You wrote Happy Birthday!” Sabine insists. “I am standing on the hose”, Angelika says and shakes her head. “I just don’t get what you are talking about”. Sabine sighs and takes out her phone with the translation app. After a few seconds, she shows Angelika the result. “Cumpleaños feliz means happy birthday. You meant to write feliz navidad, silly”.

Standing on the hose means not understanding.

Standing on the hose means not understanding.

If you have not fallen onto your mouth, he are never lost for words.

 

 

 

It is sausage to me

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Idiom: Das ist mir wurst.

Literal translation: That’s sausage to me.

The news of Detlef’s amazing lottery win is all over the lab. Elvira and Sabine wonder what he will do next. Buy a new car? A house? A trip to New York and Hawaii? 

When Elvira goes home that night, Sabine’s excitement has infected her as well. She starts dreaming about what she would do with 48 million euros and in her head, she is already calculating a smart investment plan. Elvira also wonders if Detlef has been playing the lottery regularily – he did not appear the kind of man who does. Entering their apartment, she meets Günther in the hall. “Guess what happened!” she exclaims, almost as excited as Sabine. “My boss Detlef won the lottery!” Günther gives her an uninterested look. “Actually, that’s sausage to me”.

Something is sausage to you when you do not care about it. Funny idiom because sausage is so delicious, it is hardly unimportant to any (non-vegetarian) German.

Something is sausage to you when you do not care about it. Funny idiom because sausage is so delicious, it is hardly unimportant to any (non-vegetarian) German.

 

The dog in the frying pan

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Idiom: Da wird ja der Hund in der Pfanne verrückt.

Literal translation: That makes the dog in the frying pan go crazy

In the beginning of December. Elvira disapproved when her colleague Sabine played the lottery. A waste of money, she thought. And just like Elvira predicted, Sabine did not win a penny, but instead put her 10 euros into the sand.

Last Saturday, there was another jackpot drawing. As Elvira comes into the lab on Monday, Sabine waits for her with exciting news. “Did you hear what happened?” she says and almost jumps up and down. Elvira shakes her head as Sabine points to Detlef’s office door and squeaks: “He won the lottery!”  Elvira’s eyes widen and she expresses her astonishment about the totally unsuspected news: “That makes the dog in the frying pan go crazy!”

 

 

My dear Mr Choral Society!

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Idiom: Mein lieber Herr Gesangsverein!

Literal translation: My dear Mr Choral Society!

Are you still keeping track of all our new friends? Luckily for you, they are all gathered for an after-work together today. Günther and Elvira, Sabine (who is not cross with Gudrun any longer) and Angelika, Rüdiger and Gudrun with her new boyfriend Alfonso. (Only Detlef is not invited and we all know why.) The friends are getting drinks at a Skybar with an excellent view. Angelika and Sabine have never met Alfonso before.

My dear Mister Choral Society is what you say instead of My Goodness, both for positive and negative statements.

My dear Mister Choral Society is what you say instead of My Goodness, both for positive and negative statements.

Alfonso, a historian, is from Spain but moved to Germany and has learned German. When he starts speaking about “Dokumentationsmedien in der Archäologie” in German,  Sabine’s eyes widen. “My dear Mr Choral Society!” she exclaims. “Your German is amazing!”

 

Stepping into the fat bowl

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Idiom: Sie ist ins Fettnäpfchen getreten

Literal translation: She stepped into the little fat bowl

It is Saturday and it is Lucia day! Günther’s colleague Gudrun has invited him and Elvira to see the Lucia concert. Elvira who is still annoyed with Günther, decided to decline the invitation. Güntherdoes not really know what that is all about but he trusts Gudrun’s good taste in music. Gudrun’s former boyfriend Mats from Dalarna introduced her to the tradition and even though she is happy now with Alfonso, she still enjoys seeing the lights and listening to the angelic voices. Just when they are about to sit down in the crowded church, Gudrun spots Sabine. The friends greet each other warmly and start to chit-chat. “How is it going with your promotion, weren’t you going to start a new job soon?” Gudrun asks Sabine unsuspectingly. Sabine’s face suddenly looks like she just ate a lemon. “We should sit down, the concert is about to start”, she answers brusque and turns around. Gudrun gives Elvira a baffled look. “I think you just stepped into the little fat bowl”.

Stepping into the fat bowl means you have done a fauxpas and/or brought up a subject the other does not want to talk about. So watch out for those fat bowls!