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

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Guten Rutsch...

...("good slide"), that's what my German friends—and some Americans who knew enough German—wished me for New Year's Eve. I always thought the phrase referred to the fact that snow or ice may be on the road at that night or that most Germans moved through it in an alcoholic daze. But John Dingly (thanks, John!) pointed out to me that Rutsch, in that context, is most likely a piece of folk etymology that derives, via Yiddish, from Hebrew rosh ("beginning"), as in Rosh-ha-Shana.

Grammatical note: Guten Rutsch is the accusative (direct object case) of guter Rutsch. Why do Germans not use this nominative? Because Guten Rutsch is short for Ich wünsche dir/euch/Ihnen einen guten Rutsch (I wish you a good slide), where (einen) guten Rutsch is the direct object. The same holds BTW for Guten Morgen, Guten Tag, Guten Abend (Good Morning, G'Day, Good Evening).

Monday, January 2, 2012

Word of the month: Schwein(e)hund

Schweinhund,SchweinehundA Schwein is a pig and a Hund a dog. Put the two together and you have a word designating someone who might be called a "bastard" in English. But the meaning can vary considerably depending on context, with a trace of admiration mixed in at one end and a completely derisive, contemptuous connotation at the other end.

I experimented with several ways of drawing the creature in question and show the two I considered the most successful ones—one illustrating the easy approach, where the animal is split into two halves crosswise, and one illustrating a more difficult approach, where the animal is split lengthwise. I have not tried what appears to me to be the most difficult approach, to draw a creature that would result from mating a pig with a dog. One problems is that some dog breeds already look as if they resulted from that kind of union—how does one draw a cartoon of a cartoon? But I haven't given up yet...

As to spelling: The e between the two constituent nouns is optional and can be added to make the transition from n to h easier to pronounce.

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