Once Works Well was pure technology. Now it seeks merely to divert.
Pansy subjects - Verse! Opera! Domestic trivia! - are now commonplace.
The 300-word limit for posts is retained. The ego is enlarged

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Ich kann nur ein wenig Deutsch sprechen

I wouldn’t want you all to get the wrong idea: very little BB cuisine comes out of packets, tins and indestructible plastic trays from Iceland. But this Maggi Sauerbraten mix was acquired on one of Mrs BB’s Christmas market trips in Germany and there’s a bit of brisket going begging.

My interest here is linguistic and I’m drawn to Frisch dazu: 500 g Rindfleisch since I’m utterly convinced that dazu translates as “thereto” however archaic the word is in English. No? Then let’s turn over the packet and find that I’m urged to Schlagen Sie eine weitere Seite aus dem Maggi Fix Kochbuch auf:

A perfect example of where a little (German) learning can lead to. I know schlagen is “to hit” so this clearly means “Hit yourself with a further page from the Maggi Fix cookbook.” Unfortunately auf (on) is added at the end, but it’s a short word and can’t mean much. Alas, alas. German is known for its LEGO BRICK TENDENCY which allows words to be infinitely connected as in Donaudampfersgesellschaftskapitänswitwe (Widow of a captain formerly with the Danube Steamship Company). But it is equally known for its DISINTEGRATION TENDENCY whereby bits of verbs are sawn off and put elsewhere.

Thus auf was, in a previous life, attached to another word. How about aufschlagen (consult – as in book). The lesson endeth here. And here’s the moral. Never interrupt a German until he (or she) reaches the full stop, satisfyingly rendered as Punkt. There may be a tail in the sting.


Plutarch said...

Like you my German is vestigal but I like to linger over certain words such as Abendsonnenschein, evening sunshine. And Schmetterling, butterfly.

Lucy said...


I love the Danube steamship captain's widow, how did you come up with that?! And how did you get italics in your post heading?

Barrett Bonden said...

Plutarch: In some respects I play around with German as if it were a toy - this post is typical. But then German bites back, makes itself felt, usually in conjunction with music, and - I must confess - it touches me in a way French cannot.

The final part of Das Lied von der Erde is called Der Abschied, usually translated as The Farewell. But the word can also be used to mean "resignation". I've been listening to DLVDE for fifty years and of course the word is now inextricably bound up with Mahler's beautiful music. But it still moves me when I see it alone and unaccompanied. An acquaintance of mine, imagining himself to have been diagnosed with a terminal illness, mentioned he'd turned specifically to Der Abschied for comfort. And from the way he spoke he didn't see the word as simply a label.

Lucy: I was in my late teens and a German lad, seeking to demonstrate the Lego Brick Tendency (not then identified as such), came out with that pantechnicon off the cuff. It went straight into my memory and I've never forgotten it.

Ital in headline. Simply use the coding which to avoid Blogger's techno-reaction I will have have to spell out: smaller-than sign, l/c em, larger-than sign, THE WORD ITSELF, smaller-than sign, forward slash, l/c em, larger-than sign.

Julia said...

Lego bricks - exactly what I've needed to explain German words to Caroline. Most of her words are single bricks still, but she's working on it!

Rouchswalwe said...

"Cooking" Deutsch is like Japanese - no subject. And you already have to understand the meaning before you read the shorthand. In the case of the directive Frisch dazu:, the verb add is also missing, i.e., understood. And dazu simply means to. Which still leaves the reader unsatisfied grammatically. The older I get, the happier I am that I learned German as my native language and then English rather than the other way around. Funny that two Germanic languages should be so close and yet so far.

Hattie said...

I am personally fond of saying, pass auf! Which means, of course, pass out! Or is it up?
I do read German and am now enjoying a novella about a man who apparently was in love with a cat. It's called Venus im Pelz (Venus in Furs) and was taken quite seriously by hosts of Germans, although it is quite silly.

Barrett Bonden said...

Julia: How many languages is C. currently learning? It won't be long before she's giving lessons. Does being schooled in Czech affect her English?

RW (zS): Ah, but "thereto" would have completed the sentence. Bring back "thereto", I say, along with Prithee. By the way what is the particular milestone by which one can say one has learned a language?

Hattie: As far as I can see felinophilia is much more widespread than many are prepared to admit. One of the irritating things about felinophiles is that they always parrot the same stuff about their love object: superior intelligence to humans, cats "just don't care", cat's torturing tendencies are utterly forgivable, etc, etc.

Some German words are essential and are not available in English: so (taken from also) - with equivalents in French (alors) and Italian (allora) all indicate that the brain is ticking over. Vital for people who lack a brain to tick over.