Monthly Archives: March 2016

Ever wondered why it was called a swede?

On top of German, I am also working on reviving my Spanish. Yesterday I was working on a lesson about country names and nationalities and I came across the Spanish name for people from Sweden sueco/a. Not immediately recognizing this as the word for Swedish people, I looked it up with’s Spanish-German site. When I typed the word sueco, it offered nabo sueco – literally “Swedish root vegetable,” but what is more commonly known in much of the English-speaking world as “swede” (for readers in the US, this vegetable is the rutabega and I am still in the dark about the origins of this latter name). Curiously (well as a non-botanist it seems curious to me), nabo gallego – literally “Galician root vegetable” – is “rapeseed” or what is called “canola” in North America. According to “The name of the plant derived from the Latin rapum, which means ‘turnip,’ and it has been used since the 14th century. In the other sense of the word, ‘rape’ is derived from rapere, ‘to take by force,’ and it dates to 1481.”

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Why it helps to know the local language III

Two weekends ago I went on a ramble/tramp/hike. As it was led by a German and all of the other participants, as far as I am aware, were German, that was the language of choice. Early on, it was helpful to know German so that when I was struggling with getting my mittens on, my backpack adjusted and my water bottle in place, and I was asked by the woman next to me if she could hold something, I could respond with “yes, please” – „Ja, bitte“.  And  when she later asked if I could hold her things for a moment, I could reply, “with pleasure” – „Gerne“. The second request also made it clear that we were going to duzen (use the informal) rather than siezen, always a place where I like the native speaker to take the lead.

halten – “to hold something/something [for somebody]”

Würdest du bitte kurz meinen Schirm halten? “Could you hold my umbrella for a second, please?”

In researching this post, I learned that hold is also a word in German:

hold  (humorvoll, lieb) – dear, beloved, sweet
jdm/etw hold bleiben/sein – to be kind to somebody/something

I would have to say that everyone on this trip was indeed kind to me!

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