“der Tisch”

Hey everyone, the German word of the day is:

der  Tisch    (pronounced like: fish but with t – tish)

Tisch is where your dish is!

Ein Tisch
  is a table. Unless table is used in sense of a listing of some sort. For those tables German uses the word eine Tabelle or eine Liste.

The word Tisch evolved from the Latin discus or the Greek diskos respectively.
These are obviously also the origins of the word disc and the two things do have commonalities:

  • flat, horizontal and you can put stuff on top of it
    (Warning: physically putting stuff on top of a disc  might destroy it – but you put stuff on it in some way :)  )

Given the ancestor diskus, little imagination is necessary to draw a connection to the English word desk, which is a certain type of table.

In German, Tisch  is the most general term for a table, so it’s no surprise that you can find loads of compounds with containing TischEin Schreibtisch is a table used for writing and as such is the English desk. Ein Nachttisch  is the small little peace of furniture you have next to your bed, ein Küchentisch is a table in the kitchen, ein Holztisch is a wooden table, ein Billiardtisch is a pool table and so on and so on.
Oh and then there’s the der Nachtisch. Now you are going to say “But wait, we just had that. That’s the little piece of furniture next to my bed”
but that was the Nacht-tisch (night-table) as opposed to Nach-tischEin Nachtisch is a dessert. And here’s why? The word nach is a preposition so, as the advanced learners of you already might happily anticipate, it has three kind of contradictory meanings. Here, it means after in sense of ordering things in time. Example:

  • Nach dem Winter kommt der Frühling.
  • After winter there comes spring.

In Nachtisch the Tisch stands for the main dish and the nach indicates that the main course is “over”. We’re post-main-course.
So if you need something sweet after the meal you may aks:

  • Gibt es einen Nachtisch?

German also has the word das Dessert which means the same but you will have to pronounce it in a French way… oh sorry I meant a Germanized French way of course.

Some more examples of compounds with Tisch are Tischbein (the leg of the table), Tischtennis (table tennis), Tischdecke (table cloth) and there are many many more.

So, ein Tisch is a table but it has the same origins as desk. That raises the question: does table have a German cousin?
Yes it does, the word die Tafel. And a Tafel can be a large, long table for eating, but also a blackboard and a bar of chocolate.

  • Artus und die Ritter der Tafelrunde.
  • Arthur and the knights of the round table.
  • Der Lehrer schreibt etwas an die Tafel.
  • The teacher writes something down on the blackboard.
  • Wenn Maria frustriert ist, isst sie eine ganze Tafel Schokolade.
  • Whenever Maria is frustrated she eats a whole bar of chocolate.

To wrap this up here is that little bit of grammar you have all been waiting for.

The plural of Tisch is die Tische. You don’t need to add any extra letters for case 3 and 4 except for case 3 in plural where you have to add an extra-n.

  • Ich träume von den billigen IKEA-Tischen.
  • I dream of the cheap IKEA-Tables.

And that was the word of the day for today.  Hope you enjoyed it and  see you next time.