Schland, Vollhorst

I heard about the version of Lena’s song that was done by eight students from Münster for the World Cup: Schland o Schland, but I was too slow to realize it was a short form of Deutschland.

Wortistik goes into more detail. The term was coined by Stefan Raab in 2006, and he used it frequently during the 2006 World Cup. It’s now protected as a trademark.

Another word new to me this week was Vollhorst. It is a colloquial term meaning idiot. I met it in a text a few years old, but it seemed to me it must have been used in connection with Horst Köhler in recent weeks. And sure enough, the combination of Vollhorst and Köhler has been around for quite a while, more on blogs and Facebook than in newspapers though.

Uwu Lena singing Schland o Schland on youtube.

Entry at Football and Music

LATER NOTE: Here’s a link to a version of the video with the text on it.

Wild boars and Rumpelstiltskins/Wildsau und Rumpelstilzchen

While we’re wondering about public viewing as an English term in German, the Economist’s new language blog, Johnson, turns to how to translate Wildsau and Gurkentruppe into English. (Rumpelstilzchen is no problem: Rumpelstiltskin is the English for him). These are terms of abuse exchanged between the CDS/CSU and FDP this week.

Germany has a cranky coalition government and garrulous politicians, and so conditions are good for political insults. In one intramural fight a health ministry official from the liberal FDP likened the CSU—Bavarian conservatives—to a Wildsau, or wild pig, for its rough handling of the liberals’ health-reform ideas. But the better insult was the riposte by the CSU man, who called the liberals a Gurkentruppe, literally a troop of cucumbers. Anglophone journalists have been puzzling over how to turn this into recognisable English.

Wild pig is an odd term – the animals are usually called wild boars in English. I suppose you could say wild sow, but I don’t think that is the natural term. Schwein and Sau are both terms commonly used to refer to pigs, so there’s no intended emphasis on the female.

The Gurkentruppe makes me think of a kind of Dad’s Army battalion. Wiktionary says it’s football slang. It was taken as a name by a group who sang football songs, and it is said to be a football term Leipzig University has a lot of 2005 examples, when the term was used as an insult for a political party, but nothing earlier. A Google search ordered by date shows that before this week the term was being frequently used, often for football teams and sometimes for politicians. According to the article, there are even theories that the term came from cricket, but that sounds very far-fetched to me.

(Google Books search also throws up some older examples of Gurkentruppe).

Meanwhile, Maurice Claypole in the Guardian has an interesting article about the importance of translating into one’s own language when learning a foreign one, and the importance of learning to translate.

Although translation exercises are included in the syllabus of state schools, they are generally absent in the further education sector. The majority of Germany’s 957 Volkshochschulen, which provide over six million hours of language training to just under 2 million learners each year, favour communicative language teaching (CLT) which focuses almost entirely on oral practice in the target language.It is perhaps also significant that while state-schools teachers are drawn almost entirely from the local population, the adult education sector includes a high percentage of native English speaker teachers who received their training in an English-only environment in which translation was not an option.

The foreign languages courses at Volkshochschulen (evening class institutes) in Bavaria have certainly been completely taken over by communicative teaching. I once tried to learn Turkish that way. The teacher promised the first week he would never use German again, but fortunately the opposite was the case. However, the book we were obliged to use, picking out which of the pictures showed my uncle Ali with the moustache and so forth, was both useless and prescribed. It may be possible for Germans to learn English that way – I don’t know.

Public viewing kein Schein-Anglizismus

Now the World Cup has started, there are lots of opportunities to see it on big screens in public. For instance, one could see it at the Spar-Da-Bank-Arena (I love the names of German banks) in Tucherstraße in Fürth.

And just as frequent is the use of the new German term public viewing.

And almost as frequent as that is the chorus of voices crying out that public viewing means seeing the body of a famous person before it is interred/cremated/whatever. For instance, there was a Michael Jackson public viewing, and it wasn’t a rock concert.

Anatol Stefanowitsch has complained about this before, and now repeats his view. (I do wish it was still called Bremer Sprachblog – Wissenslogs is such a collective name).

Nun greifen dankenswerterweise andere meinen Beitrag auf. Stefan Wallasch zitiert ihn auf und zeigt außerdem, wie man sich, wenn man mir nicht glauben will, mit einer schnellen Google-Suche selbst davon überzeugen kann, dass öffentliche Aufbahrungen von Leichen für die Verwendung des Wortes public viewing keine herausragende Rolle spielt.

Volker Weber took this up and joined the throngs of Germans claiming that this is a pseudo-anglicism, by conducting a small poll among commenters.

And (German) Wikipedia has an entry to this effect – one of its sources is a BBC page, but if you look at that page it says ‘sent in by Matt’, so it isn’t even a BBC journalist (not that that would be worth much).

So we have here an English term that is strongly believed by Germans to be Denglisch, a pseudo-English word. I suppose we are stuck with that.

Some sense comes from the football translator Stuart Dykes, according to whom the term was introduced by FIFA for the 2006 World Cup, which happened to be in Germany. He thinks that before 2006, public screening would have been the term. The German Wikipedia article mentions this too:

Public Viewing in größerem Umfang gibt es seit der Fußball-Weltmeisterschaft 2006, bei der auch dieser Begriff im deutschen Sprachgebrauch etabliert wurde. Im englischen Sprachraum bezeichnet der Begriff im Allgemeinen die öffentliche Präsentation einer Sache[3][4] (to view bedeutet etwas anschauen, besichtigen, inspizieren; public bedeutet öffentlich) bzw. einen Tag der offenen Tür sowie die öffentliche Aufbahrung eines Toten.[5] Seit der Fußball-Weltmeisterschaft 2006 wird die Formulierung jedoch gelegentlich auch im Englischen von internationalen Verbänden und Medien in Bezug auf die Übertragung von Sportveranstaltungen auf Großbildwänden verwendet.[6][7]

(Public viewing has been popular since the 2006 World Cup, which was when the term entered German usage. In English, the term usually means the public presentation of a thing … an open day, or the public viewing of a corpse. However, since the 2006 World Cup, the term is sometimes used in English by international associations and media meaning showing sports events on big screens).

My conclusion is, like Stefanowitsch’s, that this is a combination of an adjective and a noun that has various possible meanings, that viewing a body is only one of them (possibly the best-known usage in the USA) and that this new use, if it is new, is perfectly legitimate. (The German term Body Bag for a handbag that fits close to the body – rather than the US term of a bag used for transporting the body of a soldier back home – is less flexible).

What I wonder is how common public viewing of a body is in the USA. I started researching it. It is definitely on US sites that it refers to funeral parlours. I don’t know how often this term is used, though. A monarch or head of state would be referred to as ‘lying in state’. And a private person would presumably not have ‘public’ viewing – or would they?

Brief researches on UK funeral directors’ sites revealed ‘viewing the body’. I got distracted on the website of Eric F. Box Funeral Directors Ltd (nomen est omen?), ‘Celebrating lives with meaningful funerals’. There is a great deal of interesting information there:

Promession is an ecological burial, which is a new alternative to traditional burial or cremation. The process involves the body being frozen in liquid nitrogen, which is then turned into powder through the use of ultrasonic vibrations. The body is buried in a biodegradable box in a shallow grave to allow for a quicker decomposition than traditional burials.

‘Cremation products’ include cremation jewellery, firework displays, memorial space flights, ashes into vinyl, huggable urns and eternal reefs. But I digress.

This does prove that one of the things people get most angry about, at least on the internet, is language. And a common Google search seems to be “public viewing” Leichenschau – it gets 16,200 ghits. As has been pointed out to me – thanks, Willi! – Leichenschau is not the right term – it should be Aufbahrung.


Viewing: The action of beholding or observing; examination or inspection; spec. (a) (U.S.) The action of taking a last look at the body of a dead person before the funeral; a time during which visitors may so view a body; (b) the activity of watching television; an instance or period of this.

Sci-Fi lawyers/Rechtsanwälte in Science-Fiction

Alasdair Wilkins on Science Fiction’s Greatest Legal Minds – Revealed!

Judiciary Pag, Life, the Universe, and Everything by Douglas Adams

His High Judgmental Supremacy, Judiciary Pag, the Learned, Impartial, and Very Relaxed, might technically be more of a judge than a lawyer, but I’ll still include him for a couple of reasons. One, he probably started out as a lawyer, and two, he’s easily my favorite minor character in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy saga. Judiciary Pag was most famous for sentencing the people of Krikkit some ten billion years ago to imprisonment in a Slo-Time seal after they tried to kill everybody in the entire universe (which, he points out, he feels like doing the same thing some mornings).

He was hated by pretty much all of his colleagues for his unprofessional manner and supremely laid-back approach to the law. (For instance, he marked what he rightly recognized as the most important moment in legal history by sticking some gum under his chair.) He got away with all this because he was, in fact, the greatest legal mind the cosmos would ever know. Pag or, as he preferred to be known for reasons that made sense only to him, Zipo Bibrok 5 × 108, handed down his ruling on the Krikit matter to great acclaim and thunderous, which he would have been around to receive if he hadn’t already slipped away with one of the more attractive members of the jury to whom he had slipped a note about a half hour beforehand.

And several more.

(Via The Seamless Web)

German word wins spelling bee/Stromuhr

The winning word in the Scripps National Spelling Bee was stromuhr.

Anamika Veeramani of North Royalton won by spelling the word “stromuhr” correctly after the last of the other nine finalists had tripped up, Scripps Howard News Service reported. For those unfamiliar with the word, it is of German origin and means an instrument for the measurement of viscous substances.

I hope they pronounced it correctly.

Online spelling bee tutoring programme.

Spelling bee protesters (scroll down for photos of placards, e.g. ‘Enuf is enuf’, ‘All you need is luv’ and so on.

(Thanks to Karen)

Margaret Thatcher on interpreters/Frau Thatcher zu Dolmetscherin

BBC News reports that Amanda Galsworthy, who was the interpreter for three successive French presidents, has been talking at the Hay Festival.

President Mitterand once had Galsworthy say to Margaret Thatcher, ‘This interpreter was one of yours, but now she’s one of hours’. Allegedly Mrs. Thatcher was offended and some years later took her revenge on the interpreter:

“Years later after a lunch she called me over and said ‘I have some advice to ask of you’,” Mrs Galsworthy told the audience.

“Then, in her very loudest voice, so that everyone could hear she said ‘I’ve been meaning to ask you, a great friend of mine has a son who has failed all of his exams’.

“‘I suggested that he become an interpreter. What do you think?”‘

She added: “It was horrific because she was still prime minister so I could not say what I really felt.”

Of course, Mrs. Thatcher only nearly failed her university exams.

Mind you, I didn’t realize Margaret Thatcher had a quiet voice.

Margaret Thatcher doing the dead parrot sketch (via Boing Boing)

(Thanks to Ekkehard)

Munch and Krakatoa/Munch und Krakatoa

There are far too many legal translation topics available at the moment, but here is a break. Picture from Wikipedia (but not Wikimedia Commons):

Munch was surely expressing anxiety, but the colour of the sky was correct at the time, after the eruption of Krakatoa. From the Independent:

With its dramatic red sky, Edvard Munch’s The Scream is renowned as a depiction of despair. Less well known is the fact that the Norwegian artist was merely recreating what he saw in Oslo in 1883. Professor Olson’s team found that the eruption of Mount Krakatoa in Indonesia led to a series of sunsets in Norway which made the sky seem ablaze.