Occasional musings, Geistesblitze, photos, drawings etc. by a "resident alien", who has landed on American soil from a far-away planet called "Germany".

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Words of the month: Bücherwurm, Leseratte

Bücher is the plural of Buch (book), and a Bücherwurm is the German equivalent of the English "bookworm"—a person who has no life outside of books. Since the German and English terms are so close both linguistically and semantically, there would be no reason to make Bücherwurm a word of the month.

However, there is also the Leseratte. In German, you can attach certain words to Ratte ("rat") to coin a term for someone who likes something: A Wasserratte (Wasser means "water") is a person who loves to be in the water, while a Landratte is a person who doesn't, or at least doesn't like to set foot on a ship. Lesen means "to read", and a Leseratte is a person who loves to read. In distinction to a Bücherwurm, though, there is no implication that this person has no life outside of books—an "avid reader" comes close in English, but doesn't conjure up the image of a voraciously reading rat, which I find very appealing (and I'm a person who suffers from muriphobia!). Anyway, I think a Leseratte and a Bücherwurm make a nicely contrasting pair.

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