Vocabulary

Vocabulary Module 13: Umwelt

In this module, you will learn some vocabulary to talk about the environment (die Umwelt) using Das Digitale Wörterbuch der Deutschen Sprache (DWDS), a large electronic collection of German texts known as a corpus. Let’s explore what words German speakers use to talk about the environment. Go to DWDS homepage and type Umwelt in the search box. You will be taken to a page that gives you a lot of information about this word, but we will focus on the so-called ‘word cloud’ which is available in the Typische Verbindungen section.

DWDS word profile for “Umwelt” retrieved January 27, 2022.

The word cloud above shows words that commonly occur with the word Umwelt. They are called collocates of Umwelt. The larger the word is in the cloud, the more frequently it co-occurs with Umwelt. You can also see a numerical representation of the frequency of co-occurrence by looking at the Überblick table for Umwelt accessible through the Wortprofil link below the word cloud.

Activity 1

A.

First, let’s review the meaning of some German nouns which are frequently used with Umwelt from this word cloud by matching them with their English equivalents. If needed, you can consult the online dictionary LEO.

B.

Next, let`s review the meaning of the adjectives and verbs which are frequently used with Umwelt from this word cloud by matching them with their English equivalents. If needed, you can consult the online dictionary LEO.

C.

You probably noticed that the words in C refer to attributes and actions that are either positive or negative for the environment.

Now, let’s explore some of these collocates of Umwelt further.

Activity 2

A.

Gesundheit is strongly associated with Umwelt. Click on this word in the word cloud for Umwelt (you can also search for it from the main DWDS page) and scroll down to its own word cloud. Find 5 things which are essential to staying healthy. Select only the nouns listed in the word cloud! You can find their meaning in the online dictionary LEO.

You can click on the superscripted B next to any word in the word cloud to read example sentences with that word. E.g.:

  • Wie gefährlich sind Nanopartikel für die menschliche Gesundheit und die Umwelt überhaupt?
    Die Zeit, 11.11.2013, Nr. 45

You can see even more examples by clicking a word in the Überblick table accessible through the Wortprofil link below the word cloud.

B.

Next, let’s explore what adjectives characterize health in German texts. Read the 5 examples below with Gesundheit taken from the DWDS website. Then choose the correct translation for each adjective-noun combination.

  • Wichtigster Faktor für das wahrgenommene Glück eines Menschen sei jedoch die geistige Gesundheit.
    Die Zeit, 11.11.2013, Nr. 45
  • Besonders hellhörig wird man als Arzt bei chronischen Schmerzen ohne fassbare Organerkrankung oder bei hartnäckigem Schwindel und guter körperlicher Gesundheit.
    Die Zeit, 16.07.2012, Nr. 28
  • Die Prüfungen seien zum Schluss gekommen, dass sich “keine negativen Einflüsse auf die menschliche Gesundheit und die Umwelt” ergeben hätten.
    Die Zeit, 09.01.2012, Nr. 02
  • Immer besser verstehen Ärzte die Wechselwirkungen, mit denen im Mutterleib die Weichen für die körperliche und psychische Gesundheit des Kindes gestellt werden.
    Die Zeit, 19.07.2013, Nr. 30</em
  • Seelische Gesundheit hängt davon ab, ob man die ganze Palette von Gefühlen je nach Lebenssituation empfinden kann.
    Die Zeit, 05.04.2010, Nr. 14

As you can see, Gesundheit is associated with more than just physical health.

Activity 3

Naturschutz is another collocate strongly associated with Umwelt. Click on this word in the word cloud for Umwelt (or search for Naturschutz from the main DWDS page) and scroll down to its word cloud. Find 5 economy branches which are strongly associated with nature conservancy. Select only the nouns listed in the word cloud! You can find their meaning in the online dictionary LEO.

You can click on the superscripted B next to any word in the word cloud to read example sentences with that word. E.g.:

  • Der Regierungschef sprach sich für eine praxisorientierte Zusammenarbeit zwischen Landwirtschaft und Naturschutz aus.
    Die Welt, 24.09.2005

You can see even more examples by clicking a word in the Überblick table accessible through the Wortprofil link below the word cloud.

Activity 4

It is important to learn the German nouns together with their articles. Look at the 21 nouns that you learned in Activity 1-3 in the list below and identify 4 nouns that go with der, 15 nouns that go with die, and 2 nouns that go with das.

Activity 5

Read the examples below taken from the DWDS website with the verb schonen. Find nouns which it is referring to in the sentences below.

Activity 6

A.

Next, search for the noun Natur and scroll down to its word cloud. Find 4 adjectives which frequently describe nature.

You can click on the superscripted B next to any word in the word cloud to read example sentences with that word. E.g.: Doch die freie Natur gibt es schon lange nicht mehr.

You can see even more examples by clicking a word in the Überblick table accessible through the Wortprofil link below the word cloud.

B.

The adjective unberührt is often used with the noun Natur. Read the examples below and find other nouns which it is also often used with.

Activity 7

A.

Now, find the word cloud for Klima. Which 7 adjectives are the best to describe climate?

You can click on the superscripted B next to any word in the word cloud to read example sentences with that word. E.g.: Beide Inseln haben ganzjährig tropisches Klima, eine üppige Vegetation mit Urwäldern und Wasserfällen.

You can see even more examples by clicking a word in the Überblick table accessible through the Wortprofil link below the word cloud.

B.

Klima is mainly used when talking about weather and environment. But in the word cloud you may recognize that is also used to talk about something else.
Read the examples taken from the DWDS website below and find 3 adjectives which are used with Klima but have a slightly different meaning.

Activity 8

On your own. Using the word clouds from this module, write 4-5 sentences about Umwelt. Pay careful attention to which adjectives are frequently used with Umwelt, Natur and Klima!
For example:

Die Kinder spielen gern in der Natur.
Die Umwelt ist sehr wichtig für uns.
Das feuchte Klima mag ich überhaupt nicht.