Tag Archives: clang association

Wie bitte?

Es war einmal…es war Sonnabend vormittags. Ich war bei Dialog in Deutsch. Die gute Fee, eher bekannte als die Gruppenleiterin, sagte uns, dass unseres Thema zum nächstens mal „die UNESCO Weltkulturerbe“ werde. Aber ich dachte, dass diese Wort „Weltkulturerbsen“ war. Ein ganz interessantes Thema habe ich sagte mich (ich koche ja sehr gern), aber ein bisschen seltsam…Dann sah ich das Buchstabieren und kam zur Wirklichkeit zurück.

Wie die Märchenform? Das Präteritum zu üben, na klar. Außerdem, neulich hörte ich beim Deutsche Welle die Heinzelmännchen-Sage. Köln Magazin nannte diese Sage „Von heimlichen Helfern und einer Erbsen-Streuerin“. Deswegen war Erbsen noch in frischer Erinnerung.

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Tied by their sounds

I’m not sure how often I notice words that have similar sounds but quite different meanings in English, but this frequently is a source of amusement (and challenge) in German. Today’s example:

die Krawatte – “the tie” (as in “piece of clothing worn around the neck” –think “cravat,” die Krawattenschal, which a combination of die Krawatte and der Schal, “the scarf”)
die Krawalle – “rioting”

I now have an interesting picture in my head of tie-wearing rioters. Hopefully no tie wearers (or perhaps rioters?!) find themselves “miffed” by this image or sich auf den Schlips getreten fühlen (literally something like “to feel [as though] one’s tie has been tread upon”) and now want to put me in “a headlock” (a second meaning for die Krawatte)!

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Bob the Bilder?

As I walked past a toy shop today and noticed a sign for Bob der Baumeister, who is called Bob the Builder in English. Now the English word “builder” /ˈbɪldəʳ  US,ˈbɪldɚ UK/ and the German word die Bilder /ˈbɪldɐ/ (“the pictures”) are pronounced and spelled similarly. Therefore to my ears the phrase die Bilder des Baumeisters – “the pictures of the builder” – sounds humorous.

In English we can say that someone has “built up a picture” of someone or something to mean that they have developed an impression or idea about this person or thing. While I couldn’t find a definitive answer, I believe that one could use the verb aufbauen to express this same notion in German as PONS includes examples of using this word when describing building up a new relationship, a new life, one’s stamina or strength. What I can definitively say, however, is that learning German has helped me to build all four of these things.

 

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Meaningless Coincidence?

Sometimes I notice a relationship between two words that do not in fact share etymology or morphology. When I make such a connection, I worry about whether I should persist in using it to help me increase my vocabulary or avoid using it because it doesn’t reflect reality. Today’s example involves noticing that both verwirrt and geirrt have »irr« inside them. To me, the meanings of “confused” and “mistaken” seem quite similar and so it made sense for these words to have a common morpheme. That is not, however, the case. The »irr« in verwirrt comes from the stem wirr which also means “confused,” while the »irr« in geirrt comes from irre, which means “mad” (in the sense of “insane”), via the verb irren – “to err.” According to Duden online, the roots of these two words are also different.

So, what do I do with this discovery? It feels helpful to me to see them as related and yet I worry what confusion it might bring or what mistakes I might be led to make, given the relationship exists in my head and not in the structure or history of German. And mistakes are probably very likely as according to dict.cc, there are 371 words which have »irr« as a component and 61 of these contain »wirr.« Many of the words with »irr« are unrelated to the concepts of confusion and error, for example, das Geschirr – “dishes” – while others like der Irrgarten – “maze” – do share some components. And the same goes for »wirr.«  Das Geschwirr is a “buzz” or a “whirring” sound, while wirrköpfig means “muddleheaded.”

My sense is, therefore, that I should tread somewhat carefully when the commonalities I notice comprise only a few letters/sounds – as in the case of »irr« – while feeling on firmer ground with those such as (der) Zufall appearing in the adjective zufällig – in this latter case, it is no “accident” that “coincidence” and “random” share components.

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Say a little prayer for the language learner

I recently noticed the similarity between the German words beten – “to pray” –  and bitten – “to ask or beg someone [for something]” – a similarity that was highlighted when one looks at their past participle forms, the regular gebetet and the irregular gebeten. As I have learned however, these resemblances, however helpful they may feel to me as a learner, may not always signal a relationship between the two words. On checking the etymology via Duden online, I discovered that the two verbs do not appear to share an origin. Beten is said to arise from betōn in Old High German, while bitten appears to have been a Old High German word in its own right. Duden goes on to suggest that bitten originally had connections to “the promise” and “the contract.” Interestingly, the noun die Bitte –”the request” or “the plea” – is listed along with beten rather than with bitten. This brought to mind the English expressions “pray, continue” and “pray tell!” which are not entreaties to a higher power, but rather a friendly or ironic request for the speaker to say more.

 

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Bog standard?

I can tell that something has changed in how German is represented in my head as when I looked at the e-zine from the Chief Learning Officer – aka the CLO – all I could think of was the German word das Klo, “the toilet,” which, while spelled differently, has what I expect would be same the pronunciation as this acronym! And their website – www.clomedia.com – brings to mind not the fascinating videos, etc. that they share, but rather bad joke books, newspapers, The Farmer’s Almanac and other reading material that you’d check out while on the loo…

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Messer, Gabel, Schere, Licht sind für deutsche Anfänger nicht!*

Heute morgen habe ich diesen Satz gelesen: »Aber warum weiter Versteck zu spielen?« Aber ich dachte, dass ich »Aber warum weiter Besteck zu spielen?« gelesen hat. Ja, die Umgebung dieser Geschichte ist ein Cafe und ich wusste noch nicht, die Redewendung »Versteck spielen,« aber trotzdem ist das komisch. Seltsam, weil »Be« und »Ver« nicht so ähnlich sind, und spaßhaft, weil spielen mit Besteck ein sonderbar Bild im Kopf bringt!

Nach Duden online »Versteck spielen« hat zwei Bedeutungen. Die erste ist ein Spiel für Kinder – hide and seek. Die zweite ist »Versteck [mit, vor jemandem] spielen (seine wahren Gedanken, Gefühle, Absichten [vor jemandem] verbergen)« –  to hide or disguise one’s true thoughts, feelings or intentions. Vielleicht, wenn man mit Besteck spielen, verbergt man seine wahren Appetite und Geschmäcke?!

 


*Der Löffel ist nicht dabei, aber er kann auch tödlich sein wie »den Löffel abgeben« – to kick the bucket.

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Brush up on your Dickens?

It made me laugh today when I was doing some sweeping because the word fegen – “to sweep [with a broom]” – is pronounced very much like the name of the Dickens’ character “Fagin” from the novel Oliver Twist. And why is this funny?! Because dict.cc includes the entry die Straße fegen for which it gives the translation “to scavenge the street.” Perhaps this derives from the less common meaning of fegen –”to move fast” or schnell fahren – as in this sentence from Pons.eu Er kam um die Ecke gefegt – “He came tearing around the corner.” While I did make short work of the sweeping, I wouldn’t describe it as “tearing through” this task and I also failed to scavenge anything in my “Fagin.”

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Success by Going With the Flow?

die Leistung – “performance, achievement, accomplishment”
die Leitung – “conduct, administration, line” (as in conduit or pipe) compare Leitung einer Firma, “direction of a company” and Leitung einer Flüssigkeit, “conduction of a liquid”

I’d used the second word to be very North American and order tap water in a restaurant – Leitungswasser – and upon learning its near sound alike, die Leistung, I immediately wondered what you would get if you ordered “performance water?”

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Sehen Sie Meer und See Mehr

Noch eine Werbung mit einem Homofon

Fliegen Sie Meer

Fliegen Sie Meer

Man kann der Ton /e:/ mit »eh« oder »ee« buchstabieren. Auf Englisch sagen wir vielleicht See more of the world.

 

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