German(y) for the bookish traveller 2

Credits for image: Blackboard image by gfordham
from Stock Exchange, Fonts: Viper Nora & Vaguely repulsive

For the second instalment of my German(y) for the bookish traveller series I am listing a few terms that you might encounter when you walk around a bookshop.

German English translation
Belletristik belles lettres, fiction
Prosa prose
Lyrik lyric poetry
Dramatik drama
Roman novel
Kurzgeschichte short story
Erzählung novella
Novelle novella
Sage legend
Märchen fairy tale
Epos epic
Bestseller bestseller
Krimi mystery / detective story
Liebesroman romance
Kinderbuch children’s book
Fremdsprachige Bücher books in foreign languages
Biografie biography
Fachbuch text book / reference book
Sachbuch non-fiction book
Ratgeber guide book / self-help book
Hörbuch audio book
Taschenbuch paperback
Hardcover hardcover
Grossdruck large print


I’m sure there are many more, therefore don’t consider this list to be comprehensive. If you want to know a specific term not covered yet, just ask!

6 Comments Write a comment

  1. How do you say, “Hardcover”? LOL!

    Some of these I knew from our tote bag education! I do like that sometimes German and English look similar–like “Fachbuch” I might have been able to figure out since it looks like “fact book” a little.

    So how do you say something like, “I am looking for books in foreign languages,” or, “Where are your foreign language books?”


    When they respond, what could I expect a bookseller to say? I already have the glazed, blank look as I’m asking the question.

    OK…I’ll throw myself to the wolves. Is “Where are the foreign language books?”:

    “Wo ist das Fremdsprachige Bücher?”

    I’m probably wrong, but I thought I’d try anyway since I haven’t done a vlog yet. LOL!


    • “Fach” is something like a subject (in school the various subjects you are taught are a “Fach”, so a Fachbuch is a book on a certain subject.
      Your sentence for asking where are the foreign language books is almost correct. Just that Bücher is plural and “ist” is the singular verb, the correct question is “Wo sind die fremdsprachigen Bücher?”See, you are not far off.

      As to the bookseller’s answer, it could be anything. If they give a floor which is likely, they would say something along the lines of “Im 1. Stock.” or “1 Etage höher” (“On the 1st floor” or “One floor up”).

      Told you we have plenty of English words in German, Hardcover is one of many…:)


  2. The word I like best is “Märchen” (fairy tale) as it’s so different from other languages. In Dutch it’s sprookje (pronounce “sproke-ye”), which is also quite odd I think.

    I always like to consider how words from different languages are related. In case of Märchen and sprookje I haven’t a clue! “Sprook” doesn’t mean anything. “je” means, “a small one”, I think “chen” also means “small”, doesn’t it? But otherwise, it’s a mystery!
    Leeswammes (Judith)’s last post ..It’s Monday! What Are You Reading


    • I never thought about the meaning of the word Märchen but now that you mentioned it I did, and it does have a meaning.
      Mär is a very old word for story or legend and, yes, the ending -chen is like the -je in Dutch the diminutive. So a Märchen is a “little story” and has this old fashioned touch to it.


      • That’s very interesting. So the word is old, just as the subject (most fairy tales are old, or at least they are “once upon a time”).

        Ok, after some googling (for advanced googlers!) I found that sprookje also is derived from an old Dutch word sproke (related to spreken = talk/speak) meaning a medieval story in rhymes with magical elements and strange creatures.

        Same as Mär, then, more or less.
        Leeswammes (Judith)’s last post ..It’s Monday! What Are You Reading


        • Interesting that you found this out, Judith. So actually the word sprookje and Märchen are not so far away from each other, since spreken and sprechen are definitely related.


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