Friday 10 October 2014

Nukel, Lachen & Washlappen

My husband Rob, the son of German immigrants, spoke only German until he attended school at 5 years of age.  He also attended German school every Saturday morning until he was in Grade 7. Although his parents have long since learned English and he no longer speaks German on any consistent basis, he has retained much of the vocabulary.  Occasionally a German words slips past his lips, words that the rest of us have adopted.

When Thomas and Jacqueline were babies they sucked on a "nukel".  While the official German word for a soother is "schnuller", "nukel" is the company that makes soothers.  It is the equivalent of English speaking North Americans using the term Kleenex rather than tissue.

When we go to the beach at Long Point, we wear "lachen".  We can never find "lachen" big enough for Rob's feet, though, so he usually wears a pair that are one size too small.  

When we wash the dishes, we use a "washlappen".  In my house, we called it a J-cloth, but the term "washlappen" sounds so much more fun.  The "washlappen" literally laps up the water.

When someone seems to thrive on chaos in his or her life, he exhibits "schweinerei" or "a pig's mess".

Jacqueline's giant stuffed green animal is a "frosch".  Jacqueline chose Mr. Froggo, out of her giant stuffie pile, to travel to Boston with us a couple of weekends ago.

The furry black creature named Midnight that lives in our house is a "katze",  Rob's mom used to refer to their pet as a "katze" and we kept the tradition going.  Midnight eats "katze tuna" and drinks "katze milk".

At Christmas time, our kids open an "Adventskalendar" or Advent calendar; the original version, without the chocolate, was started by German Lutherans.

When I tuck Jacqueline in each night I say:  Guten nacht"  "Schlaff gut!  (Good night!  Sleep well!) This is a holdover from when Rob used to say goodnight to me in the Teacher's College dorm.  I was on the 4th floor, he was on the 1st.

It goes to show you that what you learn as a child often stays with you for the rest of your life. Maybe our children will pass some of these German word on to their children.

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