Want to tell a friend they’re talking rubbish? Tell them “du spinnst”. It is related the English phrase “to spin a yarn”, but is more common and extremely colloquial – it basically means someone is “talking crazy”.
I like that it sounds whimsical in English, but vulgar in German. Don’t use it with strangers!
The previous post in this little series was a word from German history but this week I’m picking something from Austria:
This is Freud’s theory of psychoanalysis and a bloody hard word to pronounce. (Something like “puh-soo-show-anna-loser”, but quickly).
In researching these German words my starting point is my own knowledge of German history, which in school was focused on 1933-1945, and then later I became fascinated with the East German state.
Beyond Nazi history, Freud was included in my 2 years of school psychology – though don’t test me – and I think as teenagers we all found his theories a bit ridiculous but super interesting because of their drama and absolutism. He captured concepts in his work which are still part of our language now, such as defining the subconscious.
On a related note, there is a great fictionalised version of Freud in Robert Seethaler’s book Der Trafikant, about the elderly psychologist befriending a young man in 1938 Vienna. Short, charming and sad.
Everyone is familiar with the satisfying German loan words like “Schadenfreude” and “Doppelgänger”, but I have come to love these neat German verbs which slip into a sentence and describe actions or experiences for which English would require a whole phrase.
Verunglücken means “to have an accident”, and if you break down the sections of the word, it relates to “unlucky”.
Use the word, but stay safe! Ich hoffe, dass ihr nicht verunglückt!