Last week a students asked me what Germans say when they are stuck mid sentence. Do they use words like um, uh, er?
Yes, they do! They sound almost the same but are spelled differently.
So when a German says something and then is stuck – just like you are when you can’t remember that German word, or the German word order, or the gender, or, or, or ….., they say
ähm (in English ‘um/ erm’), or they say äh (in English uh/ er).
If you need proof, check this video (which, of course, is NOT, how people talk in interviews in Germany ☺)
So, what do Germans say when they are stuck on a word?
Is there an equivalent for a whatsit, thingy, thingamajig or a watchamacallit?
Of course there is. It’s a
Dingsbums, Dingens or Dingsda
The words Dingsbums or Dingens are used when people can’t remember a word, whereas a Dingsda is an object people can see but can’t remember what it’s called. ‘Ding’ is a thing and ‘da’ means there, so literally das Dingsda is that thing there – if only you could remember what it was called!
Sometimes people describe the thing by adding a description part to the word ‘Ding’:
- das Wunderding – marvel (lit. a miracle thing)
- das Zwischending in-between (lit. in between thing)
- das Wahnsinnsding – mind-blowing thing
In a song about the European football championship I heard the word Glitzerding? Can you guess what it is? Answer at the bottom.
So, from now on, if you are stuck when speaking German, feel free to use sentences like “Ich rede von dem … ähm … Dingsbums. Ich möchte … ähm … das Dingsda.”
It is perfectly acceptable …. except in exams ☺ Well, maybe you can use it once …
Answer: The Glitzerding is the trophy, the thing that glistens when the winning team holds it up in the air.