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Cool German words - Fremdschämen

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It is fair to say that Fremdschämen is not a unique German creation, as it does have an equivalent in English: second hand embarrassment. However, it is a good example on why our German word creations are awesome. While the English speakers have to make a whole phrase out of three words to describe a very common emotion, we just smash two words together and call it a day.
In preparation of this post I read some of my old diaries from the past 20 years. While my younger self was a bit naïve sometimes, I actually did not experience a lot of Fremdschämen. More like second hand envy. I had a lot of weird adventures, just by allowing myself to stumble into all kinds of situations. I also was quite a bitch sometimes. I'm not sorry. Having said that, I now have another reason to write a will, just to make sure my diaries get burned after my death.

A very German word - Genehmigungsverfahrensbeschleunigungsgesetz

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I meant to write about another cool German word, and then I found this in an article. Genehmigungsverfahrensbeschleunigungsgesetz is the perfect German word. It is, of course, a compound word, consisting of:

Genehmigungsverfahren - permission approval process (a compound word as well)
Beschleunigung - acceleration
Gesetz - law

We Germans needed to make a law to cut down on the many hurdles of our bureaucracy to get permissions for infrastructure projects, just to be able to actually build streets, bridges and public transport. First we make laws to create bureaucracy and then we have to make laws to deal with it. Franz Kafka must be proud of us.

Cool German Words - Extrawurst

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We go from bread to sausages. Extrawurst literally means an extra sausage. You use it to describe the kind of people who always want there to be an exception for them, or always need special privilege. It also works for German counties. Bavaria is the county of "Extrawurst". Whenever there is a new law made in Germany, Bavaria needs special exceptions to be made for them. When same sex marriage was made legal in Germany, for example, Bavaria needed to have an exception for them, so now same sex marriage in Bavaria is not called marriage but something like "registered live partners". This is number 42 on my list of why Bavaria is stupid and should just be given to Austria. Speaking of Austria, there "Extrawurst" is actually a type of sausage.

Cool German words - Butterbrot / Abendbrot / Brotzeit

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I used to bake bread, mainly out of desperation of the quality of bread here. We Germans like our bread. It is something Icelandic people might not understand, but this is because their bread sucks. Usually it is just toast, even if it cosplays as bread in the supermarket. The fancy bread you can find is french style, which is ok, if you like eating air. German bread is a meal in itself. Dinner is called "evening bread" Abendbrot. Any other time one has a meal consisting of bread, meat, cheeses etc. it is called "bread time" Brotzeit. The heart of it all is the Butterbrot (butter bread, the concept of a slice of bread with butter and any other cold cuts or spreads.

Cool German words - Kleinkariert

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When Germans start being accurate, there’s no end to it!

- War and Peace (Tolstoy)

Tolstoy knows what's up. And yes, I'm actually reading War and Peace and am now using an excuse to talk about it. As this quote is from the battle of Austerlitz, he is actually talking about Austrian generals here. It is quite interesting, German is used in the book the way we use "Slavic" today, signifying a group of people with linguistic and cultural similarities. Obviously, in 1805 Germany did not exist yet and while Bavaria had been overrun by Napoleon both Prussia and Saxony had not joined the coalition yet. And I will stop now, before I start talking about similarities between the ideological developments of the characters in War and Peace (and their implied connection to the Decembrist revolt) and the March Revolution in 1848.

None of this has anything to do with the word kleinkariert (adj.). It translates literally as small checkered, but means being knit picky, detailed oriented and petty. It is not as adversarial as Korinthenkacker, but by no means a compliment.
This concludes my series on all the variations of Spießer. The only thing left to do is post a link to a scene of my favourite Asterix movie, a perfect play on the joys of bureaucracy.

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