Useful German Phrases to Keep Handy…Just in Case


I attended curriculum night tonight at my son’s high school. For those of you who don’t know, it’s where you go to your child’s school and attend 15 minute versions of their classes to hear the teachers give their overviews of the class. It’s an enjoyable experience for me and one of the few opportunities where you can visit the classrooms, meet the teachers and see what a day in the life of your student is like.

While sitting in his German class, I was checking out the many decorations on the wall. Very festive and interesting. Above the chalkboard was a series of signs displaying commonly used phrases you’d likely want to familiarize yourself with before a trip to Germany. Things like “Which way to the restroom?”, “I’m very thirsty.”, “What time does the train leave the station?”, “Where is the restaurant?” were displayed with their respective German translation. In the context of what I was looking at, there was one that initially seemed a bit unorthodox (at least to this guy who has never been to Germany). The phrase “Contemporary Life?” was included among the other translated German phrases. I’m not sure that I’ve ever uttered those two words in the same sentence to this point in my life and I KNOW with 100% certainty that I’ve never said those two words together in the form of a question.

For the entire fifteen minutes of that class, I racked my brain trying to come up with scenarios in which I might use that phrase in Germany. The only scenario that I could come up with is one in which I’m at an underground discotheque in Berlin, in the cordoned-off VIP area, vaping (I don’t normally vape) and nursing an espresso cup filled with Jaegermeister with 80’s pop superstar Falco. The music is pulsating and we haven’t spoken a word to this point so I lean in and slide my sunglasses down the bridge of my nose and utter the well-rehearsed question, “Contemporary life?” Falco looks at me for a moment then slowly nods his head once in approval, I push my sunglasses back up into position, lean back in my seat and take a small sip of Jaegermeister from that tiny, ceramic mug.

I guess that phrase can be useful after all. I’m going to send the teacher an email tomorrow to suggest that another useful phrase is added to the wall for easy memorization: “Take me to Hasselhoff.”

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