07 April 2006


The CAPL-German site has lists of words and phrases in German and their English equivalents, each with a nice, clear photo (CAPL stands for Culturally Authentic Pictorial Lexicon). You can search for a particular word in English or German, or you can browse by category. Although it's not all-encompassing, there is certainly enough to get most non-German speakers through a trip to a German-speaking country. As a semi-vegetarian, I would find it an especially helpful way of avoiding meat.

While browsing the site, I learned a few interesting things, like Germans apparently feel the need for der Pommesticker and der Eisloffel; that the creators of the site think there's an object called a Didl in English; that a pillow is charmingly called a das kopfkissen; and that there are advertisements for hot live loaves. Also, this sign needs little translation. But I think the most puzzling entry is this one. Why does it exist? What are the chances that a traveler would encounter it? Is the sign there as a warning to stay away or as an advertisement? How many of these exist in Germany and why?

My only disappointment with the CAPL site is that it doesn't contain one term I actually needed when I was in Germany: Studentenkarzer. A colleague and I were looking for the one in Tuebingen, and for some reason my pocket German-English dictionary didn't contain this particular term. Fortunately, we quickly found a helpful student who spoke perfect English, and who led us right there. Unfortunately, it was closed that day. Still, I think, it's a damn fine idea.

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