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I’m currently learning the German language as I’m new to Germany. Learning something new from the public every day is really cool! Yesterday I happened to hear bunch of kids playing across the street shouting:

Hacke, Spitze, eins zwei drei.

What does it mean? Is it an expression of encouragement? Can this be used in any other situation?

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Hacke, Spitze, Hacke, Spitze, eins, zwei, drei is an old childrens play-verse/song that exists in plenty of varieties, sometimes also "Hacke, Spitze, hoch das Bein!" or "Ein Hut, ein Stock ein Regenschirm...vorwärts, rückwärts, seitwärts, stehn."

Core idea is that the text gives the instructions, not unlike in linedancing.

  • Hacke
    is the heel of the foot, so it's basically tip the heel on the ground, toes up.
  • Spitze
    is the tip, so tip with your toes.

(The numbers are just counting plain steps.)

If the children you observed were not "dancing", they were probably playing soccer, where this sequence is sometimes shouted for encouragement, here referring to different ways of playing the ball.

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  • That's really cool. Yes! those kids were playing soccer. Thank you for the info. :) – SriLaks Mar 15 '15 at 11:14
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    I learned this phrase when learning Polka ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polka ). – Toscho Mar 15 '15 at 11:58
  • What @Toscho said. Hacke, Spitze, Hacke, Spitze, eins, zwei, drei, vier. I was taught it be called Sternpolka, but apparantly that's wrong according to WP. – Jan Mar 17 '15 at 22:32
  • Sehr interessant. Ich habe diesen Spruch noch nie gehört. Das kann aber auch daran liegen, dass das Wort »Hacke« zumindest hier in Österreich ein Werkzeug bezeichnet, mit dem man im Garten den Boden bearbeiten kann, und dass es eine Variante davon gibt, die »Spitzhacke« (häufiger aber »Krampen«) heißt. Der Körperteil, der hier gemeint zu sein scheint, heißt in Österreich »Ferse«. In diesem Zusammenhang fällt mir ein, dass ich aber schon gehört habe, dass man die Stöckel von Stöckelschuhen offenbar auch als »Hacken« bezeichnet (etwa in »hochhackige Schuhe« = Schuhe mit hohen Stöckeln). – Hubert Schölnast Jun 12 '15 at 6:15
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I know this phrase almost exclusively in the context of football - although it's likely the origin is music/dance related. When used by a football commentator/reporter it usually refers to one team "dancing around" their opponents' defense in a - for football standards - artistic/agile fashion. Playing the ball with the tip is rather uncommon (because you have less control) and using your heel to pass the ball backwards can be considered something of a ruse to irritate the opponents. In such a context you might also hear the word austanzen (from tanzen = to dance):

Seiler tanzt die halbe Abwehr aus!

Seiler is dancing around half the opponents defense!

Meaning he is very agile and the opponents can't take the ball from him.

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This phrase is common in football (= soccer) as an expression to denote the display of fancy skills by a player. Most of the time it is meant as criticism, for instance by the coach, meaning that the player should do something simpler and more effective instead.

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Ja, die Zehenspitzen (Spitze) , der Hacken (die Ferse).

Ich habe es beim Volkstanz gelernt, mit dem Partner: Hacke-Spitze, Hacke-Spitze - dann seitwaerts - 1,2,3,4, dann zur anderen Seite: Hacke-Spitze, Hacke Spitze seitwaerts huepfen, 1,2,3,4 dann wird im Rhytmus geklatscht, man hackt sich unter, tanzt im Kreis und das Maedchen geht zum naechsten Partner. Das war so etwa 1958-1960 (in Berlin). Jetzt lebe ich in Australien.

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  • Das war jetzt aber eine Hacke zu viel, oder? Man hakt sich wohl eher unter ;) – Hagen von Eitzen Sep 29 '15 at 17:49

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