Monthly Archives: August 2016

What’s so “Bad” about that idea?

Today I had to laugh as I saw a truck with the image of a family in bathtub at sea. The tub had a motor attached at the back and the mother, father and two kids seemed to be enjoying their journey. The image was an advertisement for a company that offers products from a firm called BadIdeen — “bath ideas” — but between the image of the bath at sea and the fact that the English word “bad” should be translated as schlecht rather than das Bad, I couldn’t help thinking that this was a company selling “bad ideas” rather than, as described below, tolle Ideen für das Badezimmer

Screen Shot 2016-08-22 at 4.38.30 AM

 

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‘Til death do us partitive

I took French in high school. I refreshed this high school French in 2011-2012 and yet I can’t remember ever hearing of the need to use a partitive article (or for that matter that there is something called a partitive article or Teilungartikel of Deutsch). However in lesson four of Französisch in 30 Tagen, there it is with the following examples.

• In speaking about a menu:

Ils ont de la salade, des sandwichs, de l’omelette, des croques-monsieur, des croissants…
“They have salad, sandwiches, an omelette, croque-monsieur, croissants…”

• In describing the croque-monsieur:

C’est un sandwich avec des toasts, du jambon et du fromage.
“It is a sandwich with toast, ham and cheese.”

The Grammarist explains it thus:

When referring to a noun whose quantity or amount is not specified, French speakers use the partitive article de, which conveys essentially the same meaning as some or any in English.

For example, rather than saying the equivalent of I bought cheese, French speakers always say, I bought some cheese. Rather than saying, Do you have pets? they always say, Do you have some pets? This rule cannot be ignored. If you ask for the cheese or just cheese without the partitive article, French speakers may think you’re talking about a specific amount of cheese or all the cheese in the world—either of which would cause confusion.

Okay, I’m off to make une omelette avec des pommes de terre, du bacon et de l’oignon (ein Bauernomelett).

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Extra, extra, read all about it

Walking by a local branch of Heymann, I noticed this book about Adele:

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While I am an Adele fan, it was the subtitle that caught my eye — Eine außergewöhnliche Karriere — for the word außergewöhnlich, which I would translate as “extraordinary” in this context (although dict.cc offers “strange” as the top translation by a substantial margin). “Extraordinary” as in “out of the ordinary” just as an “extraterrestrial” — Außerirdischer is “out of this world.” As a prefix “extra-” comes from the Latin extra meaning “outside” and has taken on the additional meaning of “beyond” over time.

The pronunciation of “extraordinary” is in itself somewhat remarkable. Pons.eu gives these two options: /ɪkˈstrɔ:dənəri, Am -ˈstrɔ:rdəneri/. What you should note is that, in contrast with extraterrestrial /ekstrətəˈrestriəl/, there is glottal stop or pause before the /s/ sound, separating the prefix into two parts.

“Extra” and extra can also be stand-alone words. According to Google, there are 10 meanings for the noun form, 2 for the adjective form and 2 for the adverb form of the word “extra” in English. According to Pons.eu, in German extra has 5 meanings as an adverb and 1 as a noun. The way I first learned one of the German meanings for this word was from Extr@ the soap opera “especially for” (extra) language learners that tells the story of Sascha and Anna, their neighbor Nic and Sascha’s pen pal from the US, Sam. The other word from this series that stuck with me is der Tierpräparator — “the taxidermist” — a job that is rather out of the ordinary and thus a word that is relatively useless in everyday conversation, except perhaps to show off that you have been watching Extr@.

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