When you first move to a country where you don’t really speak the language, you start off with a straw-grasping philosophy, trying to make any sort of connection to your mother tongue that makes the new language seem a bit less scary. Or at least that’s what I did.
So began my love for “NOT” words. When faced with the word “Notfall” on various signs, I would tip my cap and say, “Why thank you, Germany. I had no intention of falling but it’s so kind of you to look out for my well-being like that.” And then I would skip along on my merry way. Unbeknownst to me, I was actually avoiding a “Notfall” by not falling, but this wouldn’t occur to me for a while.
Things became a little more complicated when I came across signs that said “Notdienst”. I mean, if they weren’t offering a service, then why were they open at all?
But the real stumpers were “Notarzt” and “Notausgang”. Even with my limited German, I knew that Arzt was a doctor. Was this some kind of weird game Germans played at dinner parties?
Traudl: So, what do you do?
Brickel: Well, I’m not a doctor! (Wink, wink…)
“Notausgang”, however, it seems to me, is just plain dangerous for non-German speakers. You realise after around three minutes in the country that an “Ausgang” is an exit, but a NOTausgang? Picture, if you will, a bunch of foreigners in a burning building. They all start running for the exit…
Linguistically-challenged tourist: WAIT! Stop! It’s NOT an exit!
And then they all turn around and run back towards the flames of doom.
Of course, once you realise that “Notfall” is an emergency, the rest all falls (ahem) into place. It’s probably too late for those poor tourists though.
Another thing that might surprise visitors to Germany is the amount of “fahrting” that goes on here. So to make your next visit a little less confusing, I’ve compiled a little glossary* of “fahrt” to help you along. I know, I’m so helpful.
Fahrt: a fart
Einfahrt: a fart that has to be held in because you are in a crowded public place
Abfahrt: a fart that requires extra pressure from the abs to push it out
Ausfahrt: that moment of blissful release when you finally let rip
Zufahrt: a fart that is so smelly, it rivals those of zoo animals
*Glossary may or may not be accurate
Upon seeing the above sign on a taxi, I just couldn’t resist taking a photo.
Mr Taxi Driver: What are you doing?
Me: Taking a photo.
Mr Taxi Driver: Why?
Me: Because if you have a stupid sense of humour, this is hilarious in English.
(Poor Long-Suffering Nigel has, by now, hidden under a table so people don’t think we’re together.)
Mr Taxi Driver: Oh. Yes, I suppose it is quite funny in English.
Me: It is. Trust me. I’m not a doctor.