by Sam Winston
The previous post by Ian about what the German word gemütlichkeit means in New Orleans got me thinking. What other words do the folks of New Orleans and dee Germans share in common? Just so happens that I'm currently living here in Germany and I've spent endless hours doing armchair translations.
The "Huge Ass Beer" vs. The "Maß"
a.k.a 32 ounces of French Quarter stale beer vs one Liter of Germany's finest frostiness.
"Where Y'at" vs. "ist alles in Ordnung?"
"Where y'at" is the smooshing together of words with the flair of suburban New Orleans' finest while "ist alles in Ordung?" is the straight-lined tidyness that the Germans are known for. It translates in common English to "is everything okay" though literally it means "is everything in order," implying that for a German, if everything is organized in order, then everything must be okay.
"Yeah You Right" vs "Genau!" (Geh-now)
Both expressions are affirmative agreements but again New Orleanians blend it all together while the Germans maintain preciseness. "Genau" literally means "exactly" but its used as much in everyday speech as a WWOZ DJ uses "Yeah You Right" during Jazz Fest. The Germans like when something is "exactly!"
And "I'll holla atchya later..." vs "tschüss," "bis spater," "bis bald," "bis gleich," and "auf wiedersehen."
New Orleanians, ever living for the moment, use "I'll holla atchya later" to simply signify the next time they'll speak to someone, whenever that may be. The Germans have a plethora of sayings depending on when exactly (genau!) you will next see each other. "Bis gleich" for anything less than an hour, "bis spater" for more than an hour but in the same day, "tschüss" for the next day, and "auf wiedersehen" for anything longer than a week. Since Germans always have everything planned, they know which ones to use.
For more on wacky culture shock and life away from New Orleans in Deutschland, check back here every Tuesday.