For members


German phrase of the day: keine Alleingänge

Chancellor Olaf Scholz has regularly used this phrase over the last several months to justify Germany’s long decision-making process on sending Ukraine modern tanks.

German phrase of the day: keine Alleingänge
Photo credit: Francesco Ungaro / Unsplash + Nicolas Raymond / flickr

What does it mean?

Alleingang literally translates as “a solo effort.” Alleingänge, is its plural. The phrase keine Alleingänge, literally means “no solo efforts,” but it’s probably better understood as “no going it alone.” It’s become one of the most recognisable phrases in Germany’s political debate about how to support Ukraine in defending itself against Russia’s invasion.

How do you use it or where might you see it?

You’re reasonably likely to have seen or heard keine Alleingänge over the last few months in newspapers and on German news programs and political talk shows.

In a September 2022 interview with Deutschlandfunk radio, Scholz justified Germany’s reluctance to send heavy weapons – such as modern battle tanks – to Ukraine by saying: “wir werden bei allem, was wir tun, keine Alleingänge machen,” or “We won’t go it alone in anything we do.”

By saying this, Scholz was insinuating that Germany would only send tanks when other countries – particularly the United States – would send tanks.

PODCAST: How Germany changed its mind on tanks and why people are waiting years for citizenship

German chancellor Olaf Scholz at a special meeting at the Bundestag.

German chancellor Olaf Scholz at a special meeting at the Bundestag. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Kay Nietfeld

Ever since then, keine Alleingänge has become a politically charged phrase that’s come to represent an often tense German debate – so much that using it in many conversations with average Germans might leave some of them asking you your opinion of Olaf Scholz.

After months of no decision on tanks, Germany finally agreed this week to send them to Ukraine once the US sent some as well. Scholz supporters might argue that keine Alleingänge was successful in getting Ukraine more powerful weaponry – by making sure many countries were involved.

Scholz detractors might be more likely to use keine Alleingänge in a sceptical or outright mocking tone, arguing the phrase symbolises Scholz’s indecisiveness – or even cowardice – in crisis.

READ ALSO: Ditherer or deal-maker? Jury’s out on Scholz’s tank brinkmanship

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For members


German word of the day: Gaumenschmaus

Whether you're dining out at a high-end restaurant or tucking into a delicious home-cooked meal, this hilarious-sounding German is a great way to express your appreciation.

German word of the day: Gaumenschmaus

Why do I need to know Gaumenschmaus?

Because food is one of the things that unites us, and it’s great to find creative ways to celebrate somebody’s cooking and hospitality. And did we mention it sounds hilarious? 

What does it mean? 

Der Gaumenschmaus (pronounced like this) is a compound noun that comprises the word  for palate (Gaumen) and the word for a feast or banquet (Schmaus) – in other words, a culinary delight or a feast for the palate. 

This rather elevated way of praising something you eat goes far beyond ‘lecker‘ (yummy) or ‘köstlich‘ (delicious) to describe a truly special dining experience.

It’s sure to put a smile on your friend’s face after they’ve cooked a delicious meal for you at a dinner party. Or it can convey your unbridled enthusiasm after you’ve returned from a foodie destination.

READ ALSO: German phrase of the day – Gönn dir

If you want to feel like your German is advancing and you’re expressing more of your personality, it’s great to have creative alternatives to well-known words like ‘lecker’ in your arsenal, and Gaumenschmaus may just be the perfect example of that. 

Use it like this:

Dein Essen war ein echter Gaumenschmaus!

Your food was a real treat for the palate!

Wenn man ein Schweinbraten richtig macht, ist es ein absoluter Gaumenschmaus. 

If you do a roast pork properly, it is an absolute feast for the palate.