The intellectual equivalent of a ham sandwich.

Posts tagged ‘language’

German Language Committee Meeting

Person 1: Hello, welcome, we will now begin the German Language Committee Meeting.

Person 2: Suggest removal of the chairperson, who wasted time stating the obvious.

Rest of Committee, in unison: Agreed.

Person 1: Respectfully, I agree. I will run this meeting and henceforth not show up. Today’s first word is bagel, which is currently ‘bagel’ in the German language. We want to make this ‘more German.’ Please write down your ideas.

(Committee members write furiously.)

Person 1: Please announce your ideas.

Rest of Committee, in unison: Brotmitlochinmitte! (Which translates literally to, ‘bread with hole in middle.’)

Person 1: Adopted. The next word is cat, which is currently ‘katze’ in German. This has been deemed ‘too weak.’ Please write down your ideas.

(Committee members write furiously.)

Person 1: Please announce your ideas.

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Committee Member A: My word is kleinerschwacherhund. (Which translates literally to, ‘small weak dog.’)

Committee Member B: My word is einsamepersonhaustier. (Which translates literally to, ‘lonely person pet.’)

Committee Member C: My word is andereshaushaustier. (Which translates literally to, ‘other house pet.’)

Person 1: I propose hundaberohnearbeitoderzuneigung. (Which translates literally to, ‘dog but without the work or affection.)

Person 2: This will be tabled as there is not currently a logical solution.

Person 1: The final word for today’s meeting is one that we have been asked to make less German. The word is ‘Rechtsschutzversicherungsgesellschaften’ and it means insurance companies providing legal protection. Please write down your ideas.

(Committee members write furiously.)

Rest of Committee, in unison: Bedeckedeinenarsch! (Which translates literally to, ‘cover your ass.’)

Person 1: The meeting has concluded.

Source … sorta …

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Die Hand

Germany … you’re an odd place. And here’s why I say that.

The German word for neck is hals. The word for back is zurück. And ear is ohr. Eye is auge.

Distinct, unique. Clearly words the Germans had thought, ‘we should make words for these things.’

But here’s where they lose me.

The German word for hand … is hand.

The German word for arm … is arm.

The German word for finger … is finger.

It’s like they just completely forgot about those body parts until one day some Germans were hanging out with some English and the Germans realized, ‘oh crap … we don’t have names for any of the stuff connect to our brust (which means chest) … we should come up with names.’

Englishman: ‘and what do you guys call hands?’

German: ‘die hand.’

Englishman: ‘…no, like, in your language.’

German: ‘yah, hand … is hand.’

I would’ve been a pretty skeptical Englishman if I had heard, in sequence, that the German’s words for arm, hand and finger were … arm, hand and finger. And it’s not like the Germans forgot about appendages altogether. Leg is bein, foot is Fuß, and toe is zehe.

Germans, eh, they’re an odd bunch.

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Czech, a Cryptographer’s Language

Recently my wife and I had the pleasure of visiting Prague, Czech Republic. It is a beautiful city that seems to have a mystical and unsettling charm that is amazing.

It also features a language that, I think, was created by an English speaking cryptographer.

 

Pants

Spanish – pantalones

German – hose

Czech – kalhoty

Hello

Spanish – hola

German – hallo

Czech – ahoj

Friend

Spanish – amigo

German – freund

Czech – přítel

Ok. Well.

I thought I would find a bunch of words that would illustrate that Czech was incredibly confusing to me and somehow more foreign than most languages. With Spanish, French, German and Italian I’ve seen or heard enough words/phrases that it doesn’t boggle the mind. With languages that use different letters … of course it’s confusing. But Czech was letters I know in orderings that I’d never encountered before. There was no ‘wo ist die bahnhof’ (where is the train station), there was ‘kde je vlakové nádraží’ … go ahead, try and guess how to say that.

I’ll end with the most beautiful phrase in German I know, “Ich fürchte, es gibt einen Spinnenaffe in meinem Salat, bringen Sie mir bitte ein Paar chirurgische Handschuhe und einen Zylinder. Sofort. Oh und auch ein Monokel.”

Nerd Observation: The Word Parity

First of all, did you know you can use Google to very easily define words? You can try “define <word>” and wha-la, without a mouse click you’ve got a definition of the word right there!

Anywho, the other day I looked up the word parity (I am a nerd) and it has two pretty unique definitions.

  1. The state or condition of being equal, esp. regarding status or pay.
  2. The fact or condition of having borne children.

What! How can one word mean these two things! Maybe I’m weird, but I find that kind of funny and interesting.

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