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German Word of the Day – “mal”

mal-pictureHello everyone,

and welcome to our German Word of the Day. This time we will take a look at the meaning of:

mal (pron.: mahl / maal)

And I want to debunk one myth right away. Mal is NOT just a shortened version of einmal. I mean, sometimes it is but at other times… well, it’s not. Like here:

  • “Warst du mal in Paris?”
    “Ja, aber erst einmal
  • “Have you been to Paris?”
    “Yes, but just once.”

Stuff like this is not unheard of in German and it shows that a native speaker of German does not automatically think einmal upon hearing mal. And if that isn’t enough proof then the history of the word will convince you because einmal is actually used to be 2 words… one of them being Mal. Now, I used  a capital m here because there is also a noun das Mal and that’s where it all began (click here)…

The history of mal

Now, English has a fair number of words with mal in them… such as malfunction or malbehaved or mall… of course a mall would have mal in it, it’s a mall, they have everything… uh… except uh… they were out of good jokes when I did the shopping for today’s ar… aaaaanyways. The mal-prefix as in malevolent or malicious actually comes from Latin so it has nothing to do with the German Mal. But there are relatives in English… like… meal and measure and mellow probably also moon. Continue reading