German words from all over the world

By Ute Kaiser Rana and Nour are studying for their B2 exam. This is exhausting because the German language is complicated. That’s why the two women need a break. They sit on a sofa and nibble pistachios. Rana and Nour don’t need to know that sofa and pistachio were not originally German words. Sofa was adopted from Arabic like Bedouin, Kadi, mattress, saffron and many other terms. Pistachio, like pajama, paradise and pasha, comes from Persian. These words usually have a long migration behind them. They entered the German language via Greek, Latin and Italian. All words borrowed from other… Read More

End of August: “Blue Moon” and Supermoon

In the night from August 30 to 31 there is something special to marvel at in the sky in Germany: the supermoon and at the same time”Blue Moon”. Supermoon is the name for a full moon that appears larger and brighter than normal because the earth and the moon come especially close to each other. The moon is then only about 356,000 kilometers away from the earth, otherwise the distance can be up to 406,000 kilometers. The difference in distance is due to the fact that the moon orbits the Earth not in a circle, but in an ellipse, i.e.… Read More

The world’s largest cemetery is near Baghdad

By Sameer Ibrahim The Wadi Al-Salaam cemetery near Najaf in the southwest of the Iraqi capital Baghdad is one of the most important burial sites for Shiite Muslims and also the largest cemetery in the world. According to estimates, there are more than five million graves there, many times the population of the city of Najaf of one and a half million. Millions of Shiites make a pilgrimage to the cemetery every year, from all over the world and also from Iran. The cemetery is on Iraq’s proposed list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. People have been buried in the… Read More

Originally a Syrian specialty: damask for kings and nobles

By Oula Mahfouz Damask is a traditional textile fabric known for its remarkable patterning and high quality. The name “damask,” which is also commonly used in German, comes from the Arabic term “damas,” which refers to the city of Damascus in ancient Syria. The word is first documented in German in the 15th century and was adopted from the Italian word “damasto”. This is because Italian merchants first brought the damask fabric to Germany. Originally, damask fabric originated in the ancient Orient and was further developed over time in different cultures. Traditionally, damask was made from threads of silk and… Read More

The mother tongue determines how the brain ticks

By Oula Mahfouz and Michael Seifert Brain researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig, Germany, have used a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner to compare how language processing works in the brains of Arabic and German native speakers. In the process, they came across quite surprising results: “Arabic speakers have a strong connection between the two hemispheres of the brain, whereas in German native speakers the connections within the left brain hemisphere are more strongly developed,” explains Alfred Anwander, the head of the study in an interview with tünews INTERNATIONAL. “Our study is… Read More

Tübingen replaces Theodor in the spelling tablet

By Oula Mahfouz and Ute Kaiser Munich, Aachen, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Offenbach, Unna, Zwickau: This is how I have to spell my last name on the phone so that people can spell it correctly—M A H F O U Z. Until a year ago, it read like this: Martha, Anton, Heinrich, Friedrich, Otto, Ulrich, Zacharias. In May 2022, the German Institute for Standardization (DIN) abolished the old spelling table. City names replace given names in it. Since then, the T no longer stands for Theodor, but for Tübingen. The reason for the new version: The anti-Semitism commissioner of Baden-Württemberg had pointed… Read More

Mohammad and the receipt

Mohammad works in retail. When he is cashing up, he always asks, “Do you want the receipt?” The other day he called out to a man who had bought food, fruit, napkins and drinks for about 50 euros and was already driving away with the shopping cart. He came back with a red head, Mohammad perceived him as tense. The man said, “Yes, I am checked at home.” When he came home, he said, his wife would check what he had bought. Mohammad found that interesting. In Afghanistan, from where he came seven years ago, men would work for the… Read More

16 hours without: What Ramadan and interval fasting have in common

By Reem Al Sagheer and Brigitte Gisel It’s not just Muslimas and Muslims who fast. Many people practice a lifestyle of intermittent abstinence from food, even without a religious background. During Ramadan from March 23 to April 20, many Muslimas and Muslims in Germany will be fasting. But they are not the only ones who temporarily abstain from food. Even without any spiritual reference, many people have opted for a lifestyle that, on the face of it, differs little from Ramadan fasting. They practice intermittent fasting and eat only in a limited time window for a certain period of time… Read More

Colorful Easter eggs

Why are Easter eggs colorful? Children would be told: so that they can more easily find the eggs that the Easter Bunny hides for them in the green grass. But that’s just one story surrounding the brightly painted chicken eggs. Easter eggs, which are colorfully dyed in the week before the Christian Easter, have a long tradition in Christianity. Eggs have been considered a symbol of fertility there for many centuries. But how it came to egg coloring and thus to today’s “Easter eggs” is not clearly documented. There are several explanations. One of them, according to Wikipedia, says that… Read More

Halal and Haram: What’s behind these terms?

By Oula Mahfouz The term “Halal” is often used when referring to food, but what exactly does it mean in the Islamic religion? The word “Halal” means “permitted” and refers to things and actions that are allowed in Islam, but it does not only refer to food. The opposite of the word “Halal” is the word “Haram”. In between is the word “Makruh” and it means “unpopular” or “undesirable”. This denotes what one should rather not do, but if one does not do it, it is not a sin. What is considered “Halal” and “Haram”, there are sometimes different opinions.… Read More

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