Ahh, the dreaded in-laws. I am not married, so I do not actually have any in-laws of my own, yet this is a term I hear quite a lot during my time in Germany.
Although I cannot remember exactly where I first learned this term, just like in the US, in-laws are a popular source for jokes in German movies and TV. And since I watch quite a bit of German TV, I had obviously heard the term enough to consider it a solid part of my German vocabulary.
So, one day, I was telling the German boyfriend about how my friend’s in-laws were visiting her that weekend.
“Ihre Spiegeleltern besuchen sie dieses Wochenende,” I said.
“Her what?!” Marco asked, starting to laugh.
“Spiegeleltern,” I replied confidently. I mean, I had heard this word used several times by now, and I was positive that I was using it correctly.
“It is Schwiegereltern not Spiegeleltern,” he explained.
I had thought the word for in-laws was Spiegeleltern, which would translate to “mirror parents.” When you think about it, this term does kind of make sense… right?
But no, it is Schwiegereltern.
And, just like what always happens whenever Marco corrects my German, my mind started racing to remember if I had embarrassed myself by using this term in front of anyone else.
And, just like what always happens when Marco or I use the wrong word, we now continue to say Spiegeleltern whenever we talk about in-laws.