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

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]

7 comments:

Esther said...

I love them both. The look on the dog's face is priceless.

Victoria Phantasmagoria said...

Ooh, my brother always called me this when I was small. I never forgave him for calling me a pig dog.I understood the other connotations as well as the literal translation...not that this made it any better. Grr :p

Ulrich said...

Hmm--I've never heard the insult applied to someone of the female persuasion...

Victoria Phantasmagoria said...

I think my brother was happy to apply any insult he could think of, whether or not it was appropriate! :p

Anonymous said...

The term "pig-dog" was notably popularized by Monty Python's movie Holy Grail where King Arthur was being taunted by the French soldiers... "You don't frighten us, English pig-dog! Go and boil your bottoms, son of a silly person."

Anonymous said...

There's also a subvariant of these animals: Der innere Schweinehund. If you really should do something (because you're on a deadline or it's good for your health etc.), but you don't want to do it, it's your innerer Schweinehund who's keeping you from doing it.

Ulrich said...

@Anon: You are right, and I'm aware of this subspecies. For personal reasons, though, I could not bring myself to mention it: I once (a long time ago) lived for a week in the house of an extremely right-wing "fencing fraternity" (Schlagende Verbindung). Their rationale for the obligatory fencing with sharp sabers that are meant to draw blood and leave a permanent scar (Schmiss) in the face: It forces you to overcome this inner Schweinehund, i.e., your innate cowardness, by not flinching when the hit is about to happen. Ever since, I hesitate to mention this animal.

BTW In this connection, it's always Schweinehund, with the "e."