Therese on Essential German for the Frankfurt Book Fair

The following is a guest post by Director of Rights & International Sales Therese Mausser about some simple and useful German words and phrases to ease the way for non-German speakers in Frankfurt.

Your flight and hotel have been booked, the catalogs and books shipped, and the meetings confirmed.  In a week you will be attending your first Frankfurt Book Fair (Frankfurter Buchmesse). You’ve studied the list of new books (neue Buecher) you will be presenting to your publishers and agents, many of whom you’ll be meeting in person for the first time. You’re all set to go. You’re excited, but a bit nervous, too—it’s your first time in Frankfurt, and you don’t speak a word of German.

Kein Problem!  Here are some basic German words and phrases* to help navigate your way around the city.  They will offer absolutely no help should you somehow find yourself in the middle of a heady discussion of Rilke’s symbolist poems (it’s a book fair, after all).  However, a simple “Bitte” (please) and “Danke” (thank you) are likely to elicit  an appreciative smile from the person who just brought you that coffee you’d ordered. Learning at least a few basic words in the local language helps connect you to the people there, and they definitely will appreciate your efforts and good will. Viel Erfolg (much success) und viel Spass (and have fun)!

A few points about German pronunciation:

  • When ie (ee) or ei (eye) come together in a word, pronounce the second vowel.
  • Sp is pronounced like “shp” (e.g., sprechen = to speak)
  • St is pronounced like “sht” (e.g., die Strasse = the street)
  • W is pronounced like a “v” (e.g.,  wir = we)
  • V is pronounced like an “f”  (e.g., von = from)
  • Z is pronounced like “ts”—as in “starts”  (e.g., der Zug = the train)

Basic Words:
Yes…….Ja  (y-ah)
No…….Nein (nine)
Maybe…….Vielleicht  (fee-lycht)
Thank you…….Danke  (dahn -ke);  Thank you very much = Dankeschoen
Please…….Bitte (bit -eh);
You’re welcome…….Bitteschoen
Excuse me…….Entschuldigen Sie (ent – shool– deegen See)

Greetings:
Good morning…….Guten Tag ( gooten tahk)
Hello……. Hallo (ha-low)
Good evening…….Guten Abend (gooten ah-bent)
Goodbye…….Auf Wiedersehen (owf- vee der zane)
Bye (local)…….Tschuess  (tsch-use)

Numbers:  
1 – eins,  2 – zwei,  3 – drei, 4 – vier,  5 – fuenf,  6 – sechs, 7 – sieben,  8 – acht,  9 – neun, 10 – zehn.

Question:
Where?…….Wo (voe)
Where is?…….Wo ist. . .(vo ist)
When?…….Wann? (vahn)
Why?…….Warum? (vah-room?)
Who?…….Wer? (vair?)
How?…….Wie? (vee)
How much?…….Wieviel? (vee-fee-l)
How much does it cost?…….Wieviel kostet es?
May I?…….Darf ich?
Where is the bathroom?…….Wo ist das WC?  (vo ist das vay-tsay) or Wo ist die Toilette? (vo ist dee twalette)

Conversation:
Do you speak English?…….Sprechen Sie Englisch (shpray+hen see Eng-lish)
I don’t speak German…….Ich spreche kein Deutsch (doitch)
I don’t know…….Ich weiss nicht  
I don’t understand…….Ich verstehe nicht (ich vair-shtaye nicht)
Can you help me?…….Koennen Sie mir helfen?
I would like…….Ich moechte  
How are you?…….Wie geht es Ihnen? (vee gate es een-en?)
My name is…….Mein Name ist (mine nah-muh ist)
It’s a pleasure to meet you…….Es freut mich (es froit mich)

Directions:
airport…….der Flughafen
train station…….der Bahnhof
Is it near?…….Ist es in der Naehe?
Is it far?…….Ist es weit?
straight ahead…….geradeaus
back…….zurueck
right……. rechts
left…….links
upstairs/above…….oben
downstairs/below…….unten

From the Menu:
das Gemuese…….vegetables
das Obst…….fruit
die Getraenke…….beverages
die Milch…….milk
das Wasser…….water
das Bier…….beer
der Wein…….wine
der Saft…….juice
das Brot…….bread
der Kaese…….cheese
der Kuchen…….cake
der Fisch…….fish
das Fleisch…….meat
das Rindfleisch…….beef
der Schinken…….ham
das Schweinefleisch…….pork
die Wurst…….sausage
die Kartoffeln…….potatoes

*Of course there are Apps for this, but a little crib sheet may also come in handy!

Danke Therese!

Therese Mausser is Director, Rights & International Sales, AMACOM Books, New York. She is currently getting ready for another Frankfurt Book Fair (her 29th one!) this October 12-16. It is one of the things she loves best about her job–this opportunity to meet with so many of the wonderful publishers and agents we work with throughout the year. Visit our website for information on rights and permissions inquiries of AMACOM titles.

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2 responses to “Therese on Essential German for the Frankfurt Book Fair

  1. Great post, Therese! With your help, navigating Frankfurt should be a piece of der kuchen!

  2. Pingback: Dispatches from the Frankfurt Book Fair 2015 | AMACOM Books Blog

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