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

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Word of the Month: Die Kampfsau, das Kampfschwein

Word of the Month: Index

Just in time for the beginning of the most exciting phase of the soccer year in Europe—The final stages of the Champions League and European League competitions:

Kampf means "fight," a Sau is a sow and a Schwein a pig. Kampfsau and Kampfschwein are terms used in sports, particularly soccer, where they are applied to players who may be technically limited, but more than make up for it by their unflagging fighting spirit, by the abandon with which they risk, not life, but certainly limbs, fighting for the ball and tackling players on the opposing team. And if their jersey is not the dirtiest at the end of the match, they know they haven’t given it their best effort.

Calling someone a Sau or a Schwein in German is an insult, and a relatively bad one. But in combination with Kampf, these words turn into compliments: Kampfsäue and Kampfschweine (those are the the plurals) tend to be fan favorites.

I wonder how speakers of languages that avoid consonant clusters will deal with Kampfschwein, which requires one to enunciate 5 consonants in a row: m • p • f • sch (same as English "sh") • w.

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