As many of you know, I am learning German. In the last lesson I was learning the different names for different countries. For the most part–German works like other languages. England sounds like England, France is “Frankreich” and French “Französisch.” Things look like their english cognate. However, Germany is NOT translated “germane” or something similar. So this week’s word is:
meaning “German.” Deutschland being the official name of the country.
It was interesting to learn that the world for Germany has an interesting history. My BYU online professor mentioned it comes from the Old German word diut-isk, roughly “folk-ish. Another etymology website showed the connection with the word “Dutch” and this statement: Old High German duit-isc, corresponding to Old English þeodisc “belonging to the people (website here ) It’s interesting to hear German call themselves “one of us” or just differentiate between us and them. As simple as that. Either you’re part of the people here or part of the people elsewhere. Not kidding. Per my lesson plan/professor: The opposite term was an ancestor of welsch, meaning specifically the Celtic peoples, but generally anyone who was foreign, or “not one of us.”
Last week my husband made a good point about language learning and the lack of true language taught in school. We were both able to name several people who took years of classes or even majored in a language yet when they arrived in the country of that language, they understood almost nothing. Doesn’t matter if its a country drastically different from English-speaking countries or not– they still feel like they wasted their time studying a language formally.
So out of this conversation, we came across the word “kewl” in the English language. A slang word used to represent something extremely interesting, popular or just, well, plain “KEWL.” It was formed out of the texting generation that adopted more of a phonetic and short-handed speech so that one could understand emotions without having to pick up the phone. In fact, I used it for several months–i am still ashamed
What interested me that the German word for the weather being cool (a.k.a. sweater weather) is spelled as such:
And has almost the same pronunciation as the English slang word used above for a completely different meaning. I have found no research to support this hypothesis, but I wonder if slang comes from a combination of a new need in a language (a.k.a shorthanded comments or insults meant to effectively and verbal stab a person) as well as modifications from another language. For example, the word “spanglish” is a slang term meant to refer to Spanish with heavier English tons or words that are most english with a spanish accent or pronunciation.
well, that’s all my friends for this week’s Word Woche. COMING SOON!: more greek, cause I’ll be starting Greek on October 1st 🙂
You all know that feeling. That tickle in your nose. It makes you wiggle it and squirm until all of a sudden
and this week’s word comes next:
Another one of those words we all know (sort of) how to say and probably have no idea what it means. Gesundheit comes from the original idea that when someone sneezed, their soul left their body and in order to prevent the loss of your soul someone would yell “Bless you!” Well, in several other countries, blessings come in other phrases. Some say “salud.” In German, the term means “health” and when German Jews moved to America, the term caught more attention. And it was safe to use because you’re not using God’s name in vain. 🙂
After the first month of “Word of the Week” posts, I realized my category needed a little more fun. So I renamed it “Word Woche” in honor of the fact I am taking German and “word for “week” is “woche.” Also, in continuing with German–I will start with some German words. Finally, tomorrow is Labor Day, so this week’s word is :
Arbeit or “Work, Labor, Job”
The etymology of this word is pretty simple. It has, even from Yiddish roots, had an association with work. In fact, Japanese and Korean use the German word as a base for meaning something similar to work.
However, the meaning of the word is not the reason I chose it for this week’s blog. It is because of its significance in history. Maybe a another visual of this word will help
In several concentration camps within Germany and other regions of the German Third Reich, these words “Arbeit macht Frei” or “Work Makes Freedom.” It symbolized the cover-up the Reich portrayed the Jewish people and prisoners that hard work in their camp would bring about the freedom they desired. What prisoners didn’t expect is the cost of freedom–the level of work that would kill millions if their stamina made it past the gruesome traveling conditions and selection process before entering the camps. Many prisoner knew that “Arbeit Macht Frei” was a lie.
Today, I personally have seen the gate above and the gates below are from Auschwitz, one of the largest camps in Poland, are left up as a historical reminder to the tragedy the Holocaust. In fact, I just read that in 2009 the sign at Auschwitz was stolen & broken in three places. It was recovered, taken to the museum in the main camp, and a replacement was created where the gate stood.
Here in America, we celebrate Labor Day. A holiday celebrating the goodness of work. Let’s remember the good work that stands and that work is not always good.