The Liebeskummer thread drifted at the end into comments by me on the avalanche of English words currently hitting German. I think this topic deserves a thread in its own right, and I moved the comment I made there to the no. 1 spot here.
On Dec. 4, the 8 groups to start the first phase in World Cup play next year will be determined in Cape Town in a ceremony broadcast to the entire world, emceed by one of S. Africa's most notable exports, Charlize Theron. This thread will give readers a chance to comment--I'll start with a preview...
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.
In the Sachzwang thread, we ended by briefly talking about Heinrich Böll's critique of language as a tool for overt or covert political propaganda. A reader reintroduced the topic under a more general perspective...
I created this thread to keep the soccer fans among my friends up-to-date on the qualifying rounds currently played all over the world. I continue to post updates as soon as new informations comes in. The official FIFA website will give you more details. Update 11/18: All 32 teams have now been determined--and they include some real surprises. I'll create a new thread on Dec. 4, the day when the 8 groups of four that start competition next year will be set up (through a mixture of seating and random drawing).
Both words mean literally "life companion" (male and female form, respectively--they combine Leben ("life") with Gefährte/Gefährtin ("companion"). The words are used to indicate the person one is sharing ones's life with without being married, i.e. a live-in lover. I do not expect these terms ever to enter English usage, but they are interesting to me because they point to a real difference I perceive in the way Americans and Germans deal "officially" with sexual relations. More in my first comment...
One thing is for sure: Nowhere in the industrialized world would people put up with a system like the one in the US, and if they had one, they wouldn't resist change to that degree. A reader raised the issue, so let's see...
Pechvogel combines Pech (misfortune, bad luck) with Vogel (bird). The word denotes a person who has bad luck, like a soccer player who scores an own goal--he or she will be the Pechvogel of the match. More generally, the word denotes a person who seems to have always bad luck. The word is used in German where in English one would perhaps use "bad news bear". Glückspilz is its antonym. It combines Glück (good fortune, happiness) with Pilz (mushroom) and refers to a person in luck, particularly one who always seems to have luck.
This word is in the language, but I like to talk about it anyway (see my first comment). It's composed of two Words: wandern (to hike, stroll, travel by foot) and Lust (desire). In its milder form, Wanderlust indicates a fondness for travelling, especially for travelling abroad; in its stronger form, it implies a real itch or restlessness--people overcome by Wanderlust do not want to stay home, and when they return from a (possibly extended) trip, immediately start thinking about the next one.
A reader posted a comment about the Crowley/Gates case, and I want to expand the topic somewhat...see my response.
The thread now has drifted to the politics of resentment, a topic I find fascinating as it took me a long time to realize the degree to which resentment permeates perceptions and politics in the US. (8/19)
A reader asked about "Wetlands", which is a translation of the German novel Feuchtgebiete, a bestseller in Germany when I was there the last time. I can't really contribute to a discussion as I haven't read the book except for the first few pages (in a bookstore)--so, it's up to readers to take the lead in this.
Here's another something+zwang word without exact English equivalent that I find useful. It's composed of Sach, short for Sache ("thing, object") and Zwang ("compulsion, pressure, constraint"). The term denotes the necessity to do something that is inherent in a situation or, as my dictionary so coyly puts it, a "compulsion by the object in question"--no wonder I'm using the German term even in English!
Examples and pronunciation note in my first comment.
I'm grateful to a reader for restarting the political discussion we had last fall on this blog. I don't know if we can muster again the same passion, but much has happened since--and much has stayed the same. Obama continues to be hugely popular, the GOP continues to be clueless, and Washington proves incredibly difficult to change, no matter which party is given the task. But Obama has been a disappointment for a segment of his liberal base, and a huge disappointment for some. So, there's lots to talk about.
The Viennese poet Hugo von Hofmannsthal (1874-1929) is perhaps best known outside the German-speaking countries as the librettist of many Strauß operas, notably Der Rosenkavalier. What's less well know is that he also wrote some of the most beautiful and haunting poems in the German language. My favorite is his Vorfrühling (Early Spring), which is one of the three German poems I love most. Here it is, together with a prose line-by-line translation by me.
In response to a reader's comment, I've added since a second poem by Hoffmannsthal at that link, Reiselied (Travel Song).
When my (American) wife learned German, I understood for the first time the difficulties posed for English speakers by the gender of German nouns, which, with very few exceptions, has nothing to do with "natural" gender. For example, a sausage (Wurst) is feminine, but an umbrella (Schirm) is masculine--how can this possibly make sense to someone for whom both are neuter? After all, there is nothing inherently "masculine" or "feminine" about either. This thread intends to explore this issue further.
Since I'm spending much time again on reconfiguring parts of our Hexenhaus and have less time for this blog, I may as well make a thread of it. Here's a link to detailed descriptions of everything I've done so far and what I'm currently doing.
Nachdichtung combines the preposition nach ("after", "according to") with Dichtung ("poetry"). The word denotes a piece of poetry that tries to re-create the spirit in which another piece of poetry was written and its effect on the reader without being literal about itwhat's more important is that the new piece is a successful piece of poetry in its own right while staying "true" to the original in a deeper sense.
The term is particularly useful in discussions about translations, and the discussions we had on this blog about translations (from the German) motivated me to introduce the term, for which I cannot find an English equivalent. I'll give examples and a note on pronunciation in my comments.
Kostümschinken means literally "costume ham", but no, it does not refer to an actor prone to over-act, but to a historical movie distinguished more for the lavishness of its costumes than the quality of the dialogue or acting--think Victor Mature (Samson and Delilah), think Charlton Heston (The Ten Commandments), think Yul Brynner and Gina Lollobrigida (Solomon and Sheba). More recently, Marie Antoinette has been considered by some as a modern version of the genre. More in my first comment...
This thread is a spin-off from the Clinton vs. Merkel thread. In the latter, a consensus seems to be emerging that when it comes to the chances of women making a career in politics, the situations in the US and Germany seem to be more similar than different. In the present thread, I would like to pursue the role of speeches in the respective political cultures, where I perceive real differences. For my current thoughts, see my first comment.
Heika, of whom we haven't heard for a while, posed an interesting question about women as politicians and the expectations they face in different countries, exemplified by Angela Merkel, chancellor (i.e. head of government) of Germany, and Hillary Clinton.
This word is in the language, but I'm still meeting people who don't know what it means. So, let's have a look: It originates in German chess terminology, where it describes a situation in which a player has to make a move (one cannot "pass" in chess), but all legal moves available will make his/her position worse. The word combines Zug ("move" in the context of board games) and Zwang ("compulsion", "being forced to do something"). Zugzwang is now generally used to indicate this sort of dilemma, and this makes it a very useful addition to one's vocabulary.
Note on pronunciation: Tsook-tsvang, where the "oo" is long, as in "fool", and the "a" is open like in "father", not like in "gang".