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Sunday, November 1, 2009

Word of the month: Angsthase

Angsthase
I had a good time two months ago with drawing a Pechvogel and a Glückspilz and decided to add to the series. Angsthase combines Angst (fear) and Hase (hare) and is used to indicate a person who scares easily—a "scaredy cat" would be its English counterpart.

More in my first comment...

[Source: Wild Things in the German Language: Kindle version | iBook version]

22 comments:

Ulrich said...

Dictionaries also give "coward" as one of the meanings, but that's not how Angsthase is predominantly used: An Angsthase can be brave precisely because he* acts in spite of being scared.
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* It's a masculine noun in German.

Note on pronunciation: Hase has two syllables--it sounds a little like Haa-sah.

Anonymous said...

Ulrich, when I first saw your animal drawings I suggested that you make a gallery of them for your blog, but I hadn't realized that you were using them to illustrate the words of the month. This is much better idea because, with your ability to not only draw these engaging creatures, but to show their feelings, the result is a perfect combination, i.e., you illustrate both the "fear" and the "hare." And whose heart would not be touched by the sad predicament of the Pechvogel? I don't know if the purpose of this section is to build a German vocabulary, but the drawings really do define the word and make it easy to remember. Aside from that, they're just so charming. Esther

Marlene said...

Ulrich, I think Angsthase is wonderful. I haven't read your description yet but the picture is great and made me think Americans shouldn't talk about "scaredy cat" but about "scaredy rabbit." I think you should do a little book of German expressions accompanied by these wonderful drawings.

Ulrich said...

Esther and Marlene: I'm blushing under all the praise--thank you very much.

Yes, Esther, originally I planned to use the word-of-the-month posts to propose German words that I thought could join "gestalt" and "weltschmerz" and "zeitgeist" etc. as foreign words that are useful in English b/c there is no exact English equivalent. But to tell the truth, I have run out of ideas. And so, I'm now using these posts to talk about any German words w/o direct English equivalents that I find interesting for whatever reason--they may just suggest funny images I like to draw.

Actually, I have only recently gotten back to doing free-hand drawings, and I enjoy it very much, even if the results are not always entirely to my liking: Like anything that depends on facile hands, one has to stay in practice (any musician will tell you this) and drawing clearly falls under this category.

Eventually, I may run out of ideas completely , but that's life...

Ulrich said...

@Marlene: Actually, it would be a "scare-di-hare"--it rhymes!

Rabbits have much shorter ears (and hind legs) than hares. But I think the main reason why they are not so proverbial in German is that they are called Kaninchen (or, more derogatorily, Karnickel), a mouthful even in German and less tempting to be included in catchy phrases...

Ulrich said...

Oops--make that Kanickel!

mick said...

@Ulrich: the correct spelling in German is Karnickel, but Kanickel comes very close and is also accepted especially in Northern-Germany.I like them most, when prepared the French way as 'lapin à la moutarde'.In Germany it was considered a poor peoples dish, but in France its gourmet food.

Esther said...

Speaking of your deftly drawn animals, how did you create your signature image that appears in the corner? It looks like a photograph, but the presentation is very clever.

Ulrich said...

In a spare minute, I googled a little and found more differences between rabbits and hares--aside from the shapes of the ears and hind legs already mentioned. I list them below b/c I find it interesting to learn how different these two groups are in spite of their similar look:

Rabbits dig out burrows, while hares live in open fields in shallow troughs--always with the head pointing against the wind.

Rabbits are born naked and blind and stay in their burrow, while hares are born furry and with open eyes and leave their "nest".

When confronted with danger, rabbits flee into their burrow, while hares hunker down in their trough.

Rabbits live in groups, while hares are solitary animals.

...and Karnickel appears to be the preferred spelling after all.

Ulrich said...

@Mick: Our posts crossed each other--thx.

@Esther: Yes, it's a photo I took during my last trip, to Tahiti.

Ulrich said...

...and speaking of how to prepare rabbit: I remember (from those days when I could still eat meat of 4-legged animals) that when I ordered rabbit in a restaurant, e.g. as a terrine, I used to be disappointed: The meat didn't have much flavor, as opposed to, say, Hasenpfeffer. So, a flavorful sauce, like a mustard sauce, makes sense. I could also imagine that braising would create flavor...

miriam b said...

The drawings are charming! BTW, I've heard the term "scared rabbit" used occasionally. I like that better than "scaredycat", which reminds me of kidspeak on the playground during recess.

The German language is so rich in colorful compound words. A favorite just popped into my head: Schreihals.

I'm one of those Women Who Do Too Much (or more likely a woman who has a time management problem), so I haven't dropped in here of late, and I see that I've missed a lot of good stuff.

Miriam

miriam b said...

The drawings are charming! BTW, I've heard the term "scared rabbit" used occasionally. I like that better than "scaredycat", which reminds me of kidspeak on the playground during recess.

The German language is so rich in colorful compound words. A favorite just popped into my head: Schreihals.

I'm one of those Women Who Do Too Much (or more likely a woman who has a time management problem), so I haven't dropped in here of late, and I see that I've missed a lot of good stuff.

Miriam

Ulrich said...

@miriam: Good to hear from you again! And thanks for the compliment.

Schreihals is a great suggestion--I hadn't thought of it, and it will definitely be a word of the month--expect it in about three months.

As I said before, there was a time when I thought I had run out of ideas, and there was a hiatus of a couple of months. But I'm back on track and now have ideas (your's is included) that cover the next half year--and there will be more animals impersonating moods or human types!!!

miriam b said...

How about Katzenjammer? Bummelstudent? Bildungsroman?

[I'm going to try to post only once this time. The security checkpoints aka Word Verification for this blog can be a bit frustrating.]

Ulrich said...

Very good suggestions, particularly Katzenjammer. Bildungsroman seems to be in the language, thoug...

ArtLvr said...

i can't recall much use of a Hare in idiomatic English, except for the fence-sitting hypocrite who runs with the hare and hunts with the hounds... Funny image! But so is "two-faced" or "talking out of both sides of one's mouth".

Ulrich said...

@artlvr: It seems to me that rabbits or bunnies take over in English from the German Hase--e.g. the German Osterhase becomes the "Easter Bunny".

Esther said...

I realize that you've been getting so many suggestions that you're almost buried in them, but I just had to mention Altersstil, which I think is German for "old-age style," and was coined by Aldous Huxley in 1945 in his introduction to a book on the late style of artists. It has been used in critical writings by English-speaking art historians every since, but hasn't become part of the English language, like, for example, zeitgeist or bildungsroman. It would be interesting to see if you could draw one of your satirical illustrations of that word without inflaming members of AARP.

Ulrich said...

@Esther: Thx, that's a great idea--the term is now in the queue.

It is actually not derogatory--it only points to the fact that the style of many artists evolves continuously over their life-time, and Altersstil simply designates the last phase. So, I'm not afraid of the AARP police...

Esther said...

I know that it's not derogatory in art criticism, but I was wondering how you could show old-age style in, say, a turtle or a penguin, without making old age funny. But I'll leave that to your genius for expressing these things. In fact, I was forgetting that your animals are usually poignant as well as funny.

Ulrich said...

@Esther: That would be a challenge I would welcome. The problem is, the expressions indicating older people tend to be derogatory to begin with, and I would stay away from them anyway.