Archives for November 2008

Klimakatastrophe

Klimakatastrophe was selected by the Gesellschaft für deutsche Sprache as the “Wort des Jahres” (Word of the Year) in 2007.

Klimakatastrophe is a word that became popular in 2007 to describe the effects of climate change.  Whether it be natural disasters, global warming, or melting icecaps – they are all grouped as part of the Klimakatastrophe.

Although environmental issues have played an important role for the last 20 years in Germany, a number of events in the past few years and media coverage such as the film Eine unbequeme Wahrheit (An Inconvenient Truth), have served to highlight the them even further.

To hear a simple explanation and a short discussion in German, listen to the podcast:

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Accident report highlights failings at Deutsche Bahn

A report into the accident involving an Inter-City-Express train and a herd of sheep in a tunnel near Fulda earlier this year contains some shocking revelations.

The high-speed train came to rest against the tunnel wall after apparently hitting the sheep that were standing in the tunnel entrance.  At the time, a lot of attention was paid to how the sheep got onto the line in the first place, and the police started an investigation into their owner.  Some reports talked about another train having seen or even hitting a sheep on the line minutes earlier, but then driving on.

The latest report into the accident contains less about those sheep, but a lot more details of the tunnel and its safety precautions – or lack of them.

1. The tunnel does not have CCTV on its mouths, something that has become common on road tunnels even though ICE trains often travel much faster than cars.

2. The Deutsche Bahn manager who was co-ordinating the rescue efforts was apparently given the wrong co-ordinates, and thus arrived later on-site than necessary.

3. There are no fire hydrants at the mouth of the tunnel, so the fire crews would, at first, have to rely on the water in tanks of their vehicles.

4. The driver of a special fire-fighting train was, as the report puts, “not sober”.  The crew had to read the instruction manual before being able to move train.

5. Finally, the tunnel has fire-escape routes built into it.  Unfortunately the fire brigade is not able to open these from the outside as they are locked and Deutsche Bahn will not, according to the report, give them a key.  They can, however, be opened by passengers from the inside.

I was quite shocked when I first read these points, even though I do not travel long distances very often by train.  When I do – whatever the distance – I would like to be able to think that in the event of an accident, help can get through.

Let’s hope that the report gets taken seriously and improvements are made soon.

German Words Explained – Episode 100

To celebrate our 100th German Words Explained podcast, we have produced a special edition where we talk about how the podcast came about and our favourite – and less favourite – episodes.

As a special treat we have included some of the outtakes – the moments during the recording that did not go quite as planned.

To hear more, listen to the podcast:

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