Friday, 2 April 2010


I wonder what the plural of Quiz is in German. Quizzes in English but is it Quizen auf Deutsch? Anyway, whatever ever the plural is you'll find plenty of them in the  quiz section of Google Directory - though there are some broken links. One bonus I gained from following one of these links was the discovery of Das Deutschland-Portal which is a good way of finding out about Germany - but I didn't find their quiz!

For a gentle introduction to online quizzes try something for children QuizKids has some other games as well and you can even write your own online quiz if you feel particularly confident.

Time Travel

Re-enactments and other so called "living history" events are becoming big business. It's quite interesting to look at some of the websites that serve this market, for instance Neuland Zeitreisen

There is a Google listing for Lebendige Geschichte and if you want to explore some more serious history on the web then take a look under Geschichte on There you'll find seperate listings for Weltgeschichte, Europäische Geschichte, Zeitgeschichte (Deutschland), Neuzeit (Deutschland), Mittelalter, Vorgeschichte & Altertum, Biographien. Each site listing is accompanied by a brief description and some of the sites have themselves commented listings.

When are we going to be able to travel forward into the future?

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Animal noises

Google has today offered today to translate animal noises into English I can’t find an equivalent for German but I thought it might be useful to have a brief list of German words for animal sounds.

Die Kuh kann muhen
Das Schaf kann blöken
Das Pferd kann wiehern
Das Schwein kann grunzen
Der Hahn kann krähen
Die Henne kann gackern
Die Katze kann miauen
Der Hund kann bellen
Die Ziege kann meckern
Die Gans kann schnattern
Der Bär kann brummen
Die Maus kann piepsen
Der Vogel kann zwitschern
Die Taube kann gurren
Der Frosch kann quaken
Die Biene kann summen
Der Löwe kann brullen

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Mehr über Osterbräuche

Believe it or not there is a German website dedicated to Easter and here is a link to their page about customs

Now its your turn to do some translation. The texts on this site are fairly straightforward so give it a go and translate some of them into English.

Easter Customs - Osterbräuche

Searching through some old papers I found a translation exercise I had done in March 1999 when learning German was still quite new and I guess the German text was supplied by my tutor. The real miracle is I had also transferred the Word 6 document to my current PC so I can now show you my wonderful efforts. Actually, I think I did reasonably well.

Nach den langen, dunkeln Wintertagen ist Ostern der erste große Lichtblick in der langsam erwachenden Natur. Es ist Frühling. Schneeglöckchen und Krokusse haben sich schon hervorgewagt und die Narzissen, auch Osterglocken genannt, leuchten gelb mit der Sonne um die Wette. Die Knospen an den Bäumen und Sträuchern werden langsam dick und prall und Weidenkätzchen erfreuen uns beim Osterspaziergang ebenso, wie die aus fernen Ländern heimgekehrten Singvögel. Die Wohnungen werden auf Hochglanz gebracht, mit Ostersträußen aus frischen Grün und bunten Eiern geschmückt und alle sind froh, daß der kalte dunkle Winter endlich sein Ende gefunde hat. Osterfeuer lodern auf: ein Brauch unserer heidnischen Vorfahren. Damit wurden die Dämonen des Winters vertrieben und der Frühling begrüßt. Viele unserer Osterbräuche haben den Ursprung in den Riten unserer Ur-Ahnen.

Ein ganz besonders schöner Brauch (er geht auf das 17. Jahrhundert zurück) ist, nicht nur für die Kinder, das Eiersuchen am Ostersonntagmorgen im Garten, in der Wohnung oder beim Osterspaziergang.

Easter customs
After the long, dark days of Winter, Easter is the first big bright spot as nature slowly awakes. It is spring. Snowdrops and crocus have already dared to come out and the daffodils, also called “Osterglocken” [Easter Bells], take up the challenge, gleaming yellow with the sun. The buds on the trees and shrubs become slowly big and swollen and on the Easter walk the pussy-willows give us just as much pleasure, like the homecoming song birds from distant lands. The apartments are given a spring-cleaning, adorned with Easter decorations of fresh greenery and colourful eggs, and everyone is glad that the cold dark winter has finally come to an end. Easter-fires flare up: a custom of our pagan ancestors by which the demons of the winter were expelled and the spring greeted. Many of our Easter customs have their origins in the rites our early ancestors.

An especially lovely custom, not just for children and dating back to the 17th century, is searching for eggs on Easter Sunday morning in the garden, in the apartment or on the Easter walk.

1 Ostern
Zu Ostern feiern die Christen die Auferstehung von Jesus Christus aus seinem Grab. Aber auch die Osterbräuche sind wohl schon vor dem Christentum entstanden. Eine besondere Rolle spielenn die Ostereier; bunt bemalte, gekochte Eier. Aber auch eingepackte Schokaladeneier, Hasen aus Schokolade und allerlei Süßigkeiten werden im Garten versteckt, damit die Kinder sie suchen können. Kleine Kinder glauben, daß der Osterhase die Sachen gebracht und versteckt hat.

1 Easter
At Easter Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ from his grave. However the Easter customs originated well before Christianity. Easter eggs play a special role - colourfully painted, boiled eggs and also wrapped chocolate eggs, chocolate bunnies and all sorts of sweets are hidden in the garden, so that the children can look for them. Little children believe, that the Easter bunny has brought and hidden the things.

2 Warum versteckt ein Hase Eier?
Das Ei gilt als Symbol von Lebenskraft und Fruchbarkeit schlechthin. Deswegen wurde die Produktion der Ostereier dem für seine Fortpflanzungsfreudigkeit oft gerühmten Tier, dem Hasen, zugeschrieben.

2 Why does a hare hide eggs?
The egg is regarded as the quintessential symbol of vitality and fertility. Therefore the production of Easter eggs was attributed to the hare, an animal frequently famed for its reproductive abilities.

3 Wie viele Menschen feiern Ostern bei uns wirklich?
Die meisten. 51 Prozent färben oder bemalen gekochte Eier, 38 Prozent legen Geschenke in die Osternester, 35 Prozent gehen in die Kirche (Institut Allensbach).

3 How many people celebrate Easter here really?
Most do. 51 percent colour or paint boiled eggs, 38 percent put gifts into the Easter nest, 35 percent go to church (Allensbach Institute).

4 Seit wann „sucht“ man Eier?
Urkundlich seit dem 16.4.1691. Im Tagebuch des Abtes Jacob von Schuttern hieß es: „Den hiesigen Kindern versteckte ich Ostereier im Garten.“

4 When did the hunt for eggs begin?
First documented 16.4.1691. In the journal of Abbot Jacob von Schuttern it says: “ I concealed Easter eggs in the garden for the local children.”

5 Wieso heißt Ostern eigentlich Ostern?
Schuld daran ist die germanische Gottheit Ostara. Ihr Name steht für Erde, Frühling, Morgenrot - ihr zu Ehren feierten unsere Vorfahren mit festlichen Riten den Frühlingsanfang.

5 Why is Easter actually called „Ostern“ (Easter)?
Blame it on the Germanic deity Ostara. Her name stands for earth, spring, dawn - our ancestors celebrated the start of spring with festive rites in her honour.

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Die Sorben

German is not the only language spoken in Germany. A few years ago when a group of Methodists from Birmingham District visited Berlin in Easter week at the invite of the Berlin District of the Methodist Church we were taken to the Spreewald and found there is a distinct ethnic group with their own slavic language.

Die Sorben, früher im Deutschen auch Wenden genannt, bezeichnet sich selbst als Serbja, Serbowije oder Serbjo. Sie sprechen eine westslavische Sprache und leben in der Ober- und Niederlausitz an den oberen und mittleren Spree.

As well as their own language and literature, they have their own music, customs, sayings and superstitions. Easter is a particular good time to visit the area as you'll see plenty of examples of their decorated eggs and you may be lucky enough to see people dressed in traditional costume - die Tracht. Unfortunately we were a few days too late to see das Osterreiten - a procession on horseback. The fires are also lit to celebrate Easter - Zu Ostern werden Osterfeuer entzündet - and young girls wash silently with Easter water so they can remain healthy and pretty - Junge Mädchen wuschen sich schweigend mit Osterwasser, um gesund und schön zu bleiben.

Eggs were, of course, associated with fertility rites - Fruchtbarkeitsriten. They are decorated with coloured wax or have patterns scratched into them - mit farbigen Wachs bemalt oder mit Kratzmustern versehen. Searching for Easter eggs is a popular game for children in England and I have heard of rolling eggs down hill. There is something similar amongst the Sorbs called Waleien. This involves rolling boiled and decorated eggs down a sandhill into a pit and every player tries to hit the eggs of others. Those who succeed get to keep the egg. Decorated and blown (ausgeblasene) eggs are hung from birch twigs in front of the houses. This custom has spread fairly widely and is not now confined to the Sorbs.

I may have missed seeing die Osterreiter but thanks to YouTube we can now see a procession.

I would love to hear from you about other Easter customs in Germany, Austria or Switzerland.