This is a newly revised version of 12 mini posts which were first published on my old blog from September 2015 as a weekly series. Images are my own unless otherwise stated. Enjoy!
Berlin is often referred to as the “city that isn’t really Germany”. Here, I would like to share some of my favourite linguistic gems and absurdities from Berlin. Here goes…
Week 1: Hasenheide: “rabbit moor” [ˈhaːzɘnˈhaidə]
A spacious park in the Berlin district of Kreuzberg/Neukölln that has it all: green spaces, a petting zoo, crazy golf, playgrounds, a rose garden, an outdoor cinema, drug dealers (mostly harmless), a skate park, the legendary “Hasenschänke” where you can enjoy a Berliner beer or two or three – and a May funfair! Internet legend has it that it is called “rabbit moor” because back in the 17th century, the Great Elector Frederick William used the land as a breeding ground for hares. Today, hares are a rare sight and you are more likely to spot the odd red squirrel feasting on birthday party or BBQ leftovers.
Week 2: Hinterhaus: “rear house” [ˈhɪntɐhaus]
The bane of postmen all over Berlin. Berlin residential buildings often sport five storeys with three flats on each floor, and can have as many as two or three „rear houses“ attached to the main house (which, in turn, is called the „Vorderhaus“). The rear houses are accessed by entering through the front entrance or gate and typically crossing over a small courtyard. It gets hugely complicated when there are no doorbells or letterboxes outside the main entrance of the Hinterhaus you live in, as was the case at my place. Once, my flatmate and I found ourselves having to retrieve 3 DHL packages from a „trusted neighbour“ in the Vorderhaus (whom we had in fact never met before), left there by a postie too exasperated to try and find our Hinterhaus, never mind our actual flat. Continue reading “Berlin in 12 linguistic snippets”