Dead satisfied

Yesterday I visited Ohlsdorfer Friedhof. If you weren’t looking carefully, you might miss that this is a cemetery. It is laid out much more like a park or arboretum and is so large that there are bus lines that run through it to take you between different chapels and different sections. It lives up the Frieden part of its name in that it is a place of “peace” and “tranquility” (note that Fried, a delightful false friend if there ever was one, is not word in German as far as I can tell; but when I type the letters F-R-I-E-D, I frequently add an N, which makes sense for English but not for German).  I doubt, however, that anyone ever imagined a “yard” or “courtyard” – two of the meanings for der Hof – anything like this size (it is apparently the largest parkland cemetery in the world).

And then, suddenly, into my head came one of the possible translations of “happy” – zufrieden – that I shared in the post Happy-go-lucky. I had learned this as meaning something closer to “satisfied” or “content” than “happy” and the der Frieden connection suggest another possible rendering: “at peace.” Then, I got to wondering about that zu. I started scanning the zu section of the dictionary and before I tired of it discovered only a few adjectives with what looked like the zu– prefix (z.B., zudringlich – “pushy” (dringend – “urgent(ly)” or “strong(l)y” or “absolutely”)and rather a lot of verbs including zufriedenlassen – “to leave someone in peace” or “to stop bothering someone” and zufriedenstellen – “to satisfy, content or sate someone.”

Therefore, I got to wondering if perhaps there was a verb frieden that might have been the source for zufrieden. While I could not find a frieden (apologies to James Taylor for the very bad partial, cross language pun), canoo did offer some interesting insights on word formation via conversion! They explain two sorts of ways in which you can make an adjective from a verb.  The first is by suffixation (die Suffigierung). There are five types of suffixation options, I’ll only the simplest option for this post: drop the -en ending and add either -bar, –(e)rig, –haft, –ig, –isch, –lich and –sam. For example, ärgerlich – “annoyed” or “cross” from ärgern – “to annoy.” The second method is even more direct, conversion (die Konversion): you use the present or the past participle. For example, ein überwältigendes ‘Nein”  – “a resounding ‘No’ ” – or gefüllte Oliven – “stuffed olives.”

I hope that this leaves you both satisfied (or satt) and hungry for more Earthquake Words.

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One thought on “Dead satisfied

  1. kwhirsh says:

    There is a section within the cemetery called Der Garten der Frauen – the Garden of the Women – and there happens to be a woman named Marie Hirsch, who was also a writer, buried there: http://www.garten-der-frauen.de/

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