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Word of the Week

flöten gehen

What does a traditional musical instrument have to do with things getting lost?

They sound like exercises on the recorder, the instrument so many schoolchildren in Germany learn to play. "Ich geh flöten," ("I'm going fluting") is what a child could say to his or her mother on the way to a music lesson. But the mother would probably reply: "Schön. Aber bitte geh nicht flöten" ("Great. But please don't go fluting!").

Confused? That's because flöten gehen (to go fluting) has a different meaning in German - "to get lost." For example, a hat blown away by the wind is flöten gegangen, literally "fluted away." But parents of children learning the recorder may sometimes wish that the instrument would flöten gehen, since the sound is often difficult to bear!

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