“Ach, du liebe Zeit!”

Original German: Ach, du liebe Zeit!

Transliterate: Oh, you dear time!

Translation: Oh my gosh!

(Translation provided by informant)


“It was a phrase I learned from my mother, who was born in Stuttgart. It is a Schwebian phrase, often a reaction to a surprise or frustration, loosely translating to ‘I can’t believe this is happening.'”


My informant, though she has lived in America for over thirty years, was born in Germany and spent her childhood in a German immigrant neighborhood in Canada. She now speaks primarily in English unless talking on the phone with her German family, but she still uses this phrase rather than an American equivalent. Part of the reason could be that she spoke German as a child more than she spoke English and so uses German phrases by instinct in the spur of the moment. However, she also feels greatly separated from German traditions because of the distance between herself and her family. The use of a German expression in a moment of stress may provide some comfort by creating that link to her “Germanness” and reminding her of her heritage through the use of a German phrase that was commonly spoken by her mother.