Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Nun fließt dein rotes Blut

I got my hands on a German piano practice book for kids (Das Erste Klavierbuch, The first piano book).

It contains the following merry song:

"Ein Jäger, ein Jäger, der ging wohl in den Wald, und fröhlich, und fröhlich gar bald sein Jagdhorn schallt. 

Da kam ein junger Has' daher, der Jäger traf ihn gut. Ach Häslein, ach Häslein, nun fließt dein rotes Blut."

Freely translated to English:

"A hunter, a hunter, was walking in the woods. And merrily, and merrily, his hunting horn did toot.

A young rabbit came from the woods, was right away shot. Oh bunny, oh bunny, now flows your red blood."

(Competing translations are encouraged!)

Conclusion: Germany has its own idea about age-appropriate content.

Friday, 25 January 2013

verbify(body part) =

In many languages, the word "kiss" has nothing to do with the word "mouth". In Finnish it of course has.

We have a grammatical construct for verbifying body parts and other nouns. This is how it works:

verbify(mouth) = kiss (suu - suudella)
verbify(hand) = shake hands (käsi - kätellä)
verbify(eye) = look at something carelessly (silmä - silmäillä)
verbify(head) = deduce (pää - päätellä)
verbify(foot) = take a small walk, get some fresh air (jalka - jaloitella)
verbify(finger) = touch lightly (sormi - sormeilla)

Logical, right? How about these:

verbify(thumb) = tamper with (peukalo - peukaloida)
verbify(nerve) = fret (hermo - hermoilla)
verbify(knee) = zigzag (polvi - polveilla)
verbify(wing) = freeride (siipi - siipeillä)
verbify(jaw) = make bad puns (leuka - leukailla)
verbify(cunt) = piss off verbally (vittu - vittuilla)
verbify(ass) = be annoying / screw up (perse - perseillä)

And a very recent addition to the Finnish language:
verbify(boob) = breastfeed (tissi - tissitellä)

Verbified body parts also exist in English:
to hand: "can you hand me that paper"
to mouth: "he mouthed two words"
to eye: "X said she eyed Y for the role"
to stomach: "that's quite hard to stomach"
to cock: "he cocked his head to the side"

Before you rush to comment "But that's not a verbified body part!!1!", I know! This tongue-in-cheek addition was necessary to maintain the pseudoscientific touch of the blog.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Iron teeth

During a random kitchen discussion with a guest (German), we discovered that both in German and in Finnish, the first set of teeth is called "milk teeth" (Milchzähne, maitohampaat). 

But the second set has a way cooler name in Finnish: they're called "iron teeth" (rautahampaat). In German they are boringly "bleibende Zähne", and in English, correspondingly, permanent teeth.

Eisenzähne, anybody?


The English Wikipedia calls the first set of teeth "primary teeth", but "milk teeth" gives some Google hits, too. Some dictionaries claim it is a metaphor for "period of infancy". Maybe the native English speaker blog readers can tune in and tell what "milk teeth" usually means, if anything.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Cake in the oven

Kitchen linguistics, noun: Amateurish and/or scientifically incompetent half-humorous linguistic and etymological discussions over breakfast or a cup of tea. Origin: in Finnish, "kitchen psychology" is a negative term used for non-scientific psychological discussions / advice, for example, self help books.

Kitchen linguistics has been a long-term hobby of my better half and me. We live in Germany, are studying German, speak English at work and with our friends, and try to keep up with the latest Finnish street-cred-increasing phrases. This creates a lovely linguistic confusion which provides food for thought, and material for this blog.

Today's topic: Placenta. Surprisingly, the word for placenta has something to do with cake in many languages.

It started when a Romanian friend of ours informed us that in Romanian, there is a cake called Plăcintă. And indeed, the origin of the English word placenta is a Latin word meaning cake.

I explained this to a German friend, and he pointed out that in German, the word for placenta is Mutterkuchen (mother-cake).

The third instance of this discussion occurred at a dinner table at work (attendees: a German, a Hungarian, a Finn, a Czech, and a Romanian), where we concluded that the saying "a bun in the oven" should be updated to be "a cake in the oven", to be more accurate.