If a situation seems hopeless without a way out we might say: "Dann ist Hängen im Schacht.", or "Dann ist Holland in Not."
If a problem has been solved we might say: "Dann ist der Drops gelutscht."
An example for an expression that just sprang up a couple of years ago and ended up being used as a set phrase, usually expressing some sarcasm is: "Dumm gelaufen!" Again, languages are living organic things, constantly changing and evolving.
A little post scriptum here. I just googled "deutsche Sprichwörter" and found this website http://www.alle-sprichwoerter.de/. I looked up under "F" and did not know any of these sayings, I hope no German learner will use these lists!
I've lost count of the times I've read that this or that language has a high (even "the highest") number of colloquialisms/idioms/particle verbs/[insert random grammatical feature] as if that would make the language more difficult to learn.
I believe any language has a fair share of obvious and not-so obvious expressions.
"Dann ist Hängen im Schacht" - it took me quite some time to understand that and I'm still not sure if I understood it correctly. First I thought of "hanging" as in "to hang a criminal". But then I reread the phrase and I guess "hängen" here means "to get stuck".
"Dann ist der Drops gelutscht" - never heard that before and I most likely would not have understood it unless I had been given lots of explanatory context ;-) Is that similar to "der Groschen ist gefallen"?
"Dumm gelaufen!" - that's one I use quite often, even though where I live we mostly say "Blöd gelaufen!".
There is one expression used in Germany which I still find kind of strange: "Das ist Jacke wie Hose" in the sense of "it is all the same". I find that kind of weird because a "Jacke" (jacket) is quite different from a "Hose" (pants or trousers in BE). In Austria we normally say "das ist gehüpft wie gesprungen" or in dialect "des is ghupft wie ghatscht", whereby "hüpfen" stands for "hop" and "springen" for "to jump, to leap".
When it comes to colloquialisms regional differences seem to be quite big. Thanks to Friedemann for teaching me some new expressions in German. Man lernt eben nie aus :-) Live and learn.
June 26, 2012, 11:16 a.m.
I looked at those lists...und ich hab nur Bahnhof verstanden...! :-)
The thing with "Dumm gelaufen" is a really subtle one I think, because the phrase had been used a lot on TV, I think especially in a sports context when trainers or athletes would comment on a lost game. Most of them are not really that eloquent and then it started to be used in other contexts as well but took on a slightly sarcastic connotation because originally it had been used mostly by unsophisticated people (the football players etc.) and also in less grave circumstances (that is in sports). Anyway, this is just my theory.
I have thought a bit more about the "Drops", which by the way means "candy". I think the expression refers to two possible directions a development might take and then one scenario materializes. In that situation there is no possibility anymore to affect the outcome because it has already been decided. In English a rough approximation would be: "Regarding this issue the train has already left the station a long time ago."
don't fret, as I said above I did not know most of them either. I think many dictionaries are full of phrases that are actually never used by natives. That happened to me when I learned Norwegian, I ended up trashing the dictionary because it was so bad.
Not to tear up any wounds but are you following the Euro 2012?
June 26, 2012, 2:48 p.m.
I'm not really a huge fan of football; to be quite honest, I didn't even see England's last game. But I understand from newspapers that this English national team is the weakest one that there has been for the last 30 years - so it's probably amazing that they even got so far as the quarter finals!
(I believe there's going to be more football at the London Olympics, but this time featuring a combined UK team with players from England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Maybe we will win that...!?)
This is definitely a much better and more productive approach than learning idiomatic expressions by heart from a list. Besides, it is also much more fun. I learnt most of the English colloquialisms I know by reading books and/or watching sitcoms. And let's not forget conversations with native speakers. Nothing can beat the real thing ;-)
June 29, 2012, 11:12 a.m.
Wie gesagt, I'm not a huge follower of football. However, it so happens that I DID see the Halbfinale Deutschland v. Italien.
You guys seemed lucky to lose by only 2-1 - it could easily have been 3-0 if the Italians had been a little more professional in the second half!
Viva Balotelli! Forza Italia! :-D
I didn't watch the match because it was late at night here in China but your right, Italy fully deserved it to make it to the final. It is always funny to see the German nation during these tournaments descend into a state of self aggrandization and delusion about the team's real strengths, it's strange to see what football does to people...