Hair-raising

This post was prompted by getting my haircut yesterday (and, no my German is not up to this task, I was lucky enough to find a stylist who spoke wonderful English to give me a trim). The name of the salon I went to is FON which is both an abbreviation and a bit of word play: the word for “to blow dry” is fönen and this small chain calls itself Friseur Ohne Name. They have a very good value option where a wash and cut are included and then you do the fönen yourself with their dryer and brush. This isn’t something I’ve seen in the US, although perhaps I’d simply not been looking for it!

A haircut also turns out to be a good change to practice what for English speakers is a fairly subtle vowel difference between the German u and eu/ö because die Frisur is “hairstyle” and der Friseur / Frisör is “hairdresser.” Yes, you can probably be a tiny bit lax because the grammatical genders are different, but where’s the fun in learning German if you aren’t challenging yourself to get your tongue around some new vowels?!

I also discovered that the idiom “Tell it to the Marines!” has as its German counterpart “Das kannst du deinem Friseur erzählen!” I’m not sure what it says about the view of either hairdressers or the Marines that when you want to suggest you don’t believe what someone is saying, you tell them to share it with either of these groups, perhaps the idea is that they’ve heard it all?! Interestingly, there were quite a number of phrases that at least one website categorized as having related meanings in German.

One final interesting aspect of talking about haircare in German is that you  use a reflexive verb and don’t refer to “your hair.” So you “to brush your hair” you say something like “oneself the hairs brush” – sich die Haare bürsten. Different yet again is when you want to say “to comb your hair,” here you say – sich kämmen, something like “to comb oneself” where the hair isn’t even mentioned.

I wish I’d found some way to fit “hair-splitting” into this post, but I’ll have to settle for remarking on how “hair-raising” – haarsträubend  being a compound of das Haar – hair – and sträubend -“bristling” – makes me think first of a porcupine or a wild boar and then the metaphorical meaning takes over and places them on a giant roller coaster…

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