Learning German in the subtitles

Watching Netflix shows with German subtitles is the laziest way to “study”, which is also the best I can do in this recent heatwave. I’ve been writing down a few brilliant translations I’ve learned over the past two months. These make me feel like I’m getting closer to understanding the essence of German culture (or, the “Gestalt” if you will).


Rupaul’s Drag Race

Sashay away. = Husch, raus dem Haus.

I’m sure this isn’t a commonly used phrase in Germany. But I love how they maintained the rhyme in the dismissal. This translates to “Shoo, out of the house”. Maybe a little less dignified than the original English version, but I think just as catchy. Could come in handy when visitors overstay their welcome. 

The Hairy Bikers’ Asian Adventure

Bob’s your uncle = Schwuppdiwup

Used when the hosts were putting the last touches on a dish, this sounds to me more like a sound effect than a word. I believe “et voilà” would be the French equivalent. I don’t think you even have to speak German to understand the magical revealing effect. And let’s be honest, “Schwuppdiwup” is easier to explain (or even act out) than “Bob’s your uncle” to a non-native speaker.

Plot twist: Google translates this word to “nuance dragon”. If anyone’s looking for a name for their new band, I recommend putting a few German words through automatic translation.

Ugly Delicious

This is amazing! = Heilige bimbam!

Stefan laughed when he saw this translation at the bottom of the screen. Apparently he hadn’t heard it a long time. Upon googling, it seems this phrase is used similarly to “Holy mackerel!”, which might explain why the kids aren’t using it anymore. But I like the delightful musicality of “bimbam”. I’m happy to say that I’ve already worked this one into a few occasions.

That was an epic fail. = Das war ein Schuss in den Ofen.

This one translates to “a shot in the oven”, which is fitting for a cooking show—though host David Chang was not using the oven at the time. In my opinion, the best clichés are the ones that summon a great image in your mind. Did someone try to light a fire in the oven with a gun? Or maybe someone was aiming at something else and fired into the oven on accident? Either way, it sounds highly dangerous and the first step towards a kitchen disaster, or what an English speaker might call an “epic fail”.

As I’ve got so much more German to learn, my Netflix-watching will continue. That’s how committed I am to studying languages. (Shout out to my sister for supporting my studies with her account!) I hope to report more subtitle discoveries here in the future. Watch this space!

By hsd-editorial

native English editing and training services

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