Freundin or Freundin?

So, my time in Hannover is almost up. 19 hours until I head back home, and I’ve really enjoyed it to be honest. I’ve found out a fair bit of stuff for my dissertation, I’ve met a really nice family, I’ve spoken German for two weeks, and the weather’s been outrageously nice. To give you an idea, I woke up at 3am as I needed the loo last night, and the thermometer in my room (with windows open all night) read 28 degrees Celsius.

Tomorrow, then, it’s back home for two months of a proper summer holiday – bowls, cricket and proofreading (of which I may have quite a lot I think, as I’ve had four enquiries whilst I’ve been here…) – before China.

Learning foreign languages is great. This trip has been totally justified by the fact I’ve been immersed in German for a fortnight, and at least four people outside of my host family have said how amazed they are: firstly, that I chose to learn German; secondly, that I have learned German to such a good level. Good stuff, I suppose! And they’re right – when you think about it, it’s not the easiest language to study, as demonstrated by a confusing few minutes a couple of days ago…

I came back in from the town, just as a girl was leaving the house. As it turned out, she was in the orchestra with Simeon, and they’d been practising for a concert this weekend. I went in, put my bag down and got chatting. “War das deine Freundin, denn?” I asked. The meaning, I thought, was clear enough (“Was that your friend (female) then?”). What I hadn’t thought about was the fact that the word for a friend, who happens to be a female, is exactly the same as the word for a girlfriend. So when Simeon answered in the negative, I too was a little confused. About a minute later, I twigged. “Aaah, also sie war nicht deine Freundin, sondern deine Freundin!” (“Aaah, so she wasn’t your female friend, but she was your female friend.”) See what I mean?

The moral of this story is thus. To avoid any confusion at all, if you want to ask about someone’s girlfriend*, say “deine Freundin” with the appropriate emphasis (and potentially raising of the eyebrows). However, if it’s about someone’s friend who just so happens to be a girl, say “eine Freundin von dir” (literally “a female friend of yours”). German – it’s a simple language.

* In case you’re wondering, by the way, there’s exactly the same problem when talking about boyfriends…


4 thoughts on “Freundin or Freundin?

  1. I can attest to Jack’s amazing level of German. He even understands Austrian German spoken at natural speed ;-). The confusion with “Freundin” and “Freund” is quite common. The solution you offered, Jack, is perfect. That’s just the way we do it here in Austria as well. Hope you’ll make it to Austria one day. Keep up the good work.

    • Vielen Dank Robert 🙂 Das wuerde ich sicher sehr gerne, wenn ich die Zeit finden kann. Bestimmt nachdem ich im Juni 2014 zurueckkomme, werde ich mehr ueberlegen…

  2. Pingback: An eclectic mix of holiday anecdotes | A Pedant Abroad

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