German: one language, many varieties
Learning German is no easy task but with some time and dedication, the language opens windows into Germany's culture and history that remain mostly closed to those who rely on English alone.
The official language of Hamburg and throughout Germany is German. Although English is widely spoken, especially in larger cities like Hamburg, students are encouraged to take a German language course to enhance their experience and deepen communications during their stay. Bucerius Law School offers language classes and a large German student body who provide ample opportunity to practice. Additionally, Bucerius has partnered with a local language school near campus to offer German classes at a special rate for students who would like to get a head start on the language before the start of their program.
Dialects vary throughout Germany and students may find some more challenging than others, depending on where they have learned to speak. Bavarians in Southern Germany, for example, may use different greetings or phrases and may have accents that vary greatly from flatter Northern German intonation. But asking questions and talking through any difficulties will surely bring a rewarding cultural exchange. In parts of Northern Germany, Plattdeutsch is also spoken – a Northern German dialect that is related to Frisian, Dutch and English. Though considered by some to be a dying language, it has been revived in recent years and is now taught in some schools and can be heard on some radio and television programs.
"Hamburgish" - Hamburg's local dialect
As international students begin to learn German, they may notice a few colorful words and phrases around Hamburg that they don’t hear in the classroom. For example, rather than the standard, Guten Tag, literally “Good Day” or Hello, Hamburgers say, Moin, Moin! Similarly, a girl is not a Mädchen but a Deern; a child is not a Kind but a Gör and some words bear similarities to their English translations, as a door is not a Tür but a Dör, a cat is not a Katze but a Katt and a mouth is not a Mund but a Snuut. If you are crazy, you are not verrückt but rather tüdelig and if you are a bit tipsy you are angetüdelt, perhaps because you drank too much Kööm, or Schnaps. You will surely be told to put on your Puschen or Hausschuhe, because Germans always take off their shoes at the door and put on these slippers. If it is dark, it’s not dunkel but duster and if you are scared, you are not ängstlich but bang. And some words are just plain fun to say – like Quiddje, the word for newcomers to Hamburg, which international students may hear frequently.
Did you know?
Did you know that the Master of Law and Business program offers German courses on four different levels, from complete beginner to almost fluent? These courses are offered on campus and are coordinated with the rest of the schedule, making learning German as convenient as possible.
Students who wish to learn German before the start of the program can receive a discount at a language school that is located close to campus.