Sunday, 9 February 2014


The blog is not dead. Or if it was, it's resurrected now.

A colleague of mine was posting to Google+ about Verkehr, which is a German word that makes childish foreigners giggle in so many ways. It means "traffic", at least most of the time. But then there is a hilarious word Geschlechtsverkehr, literally "gender traffic", which means (sexual) intercourse. In some contexts, plain "Verkehr" has this meaning, too. You got to appreciate the potential for bad jokes here - it's much greater than in English.

So in this context, I want to relay two jokes from my husband from his early German learning days:

1) "Fernverkehr (long-distance traffic)? That's like cybering, right?"

2) "Ersatzverkehr (substitute traffic)? That's when your wife is not at home, right?"

The actual topic for today (this month? this year?) is linguistic confusion related to colors.

I wrote earlier that "black socked" in Finnish (mustasukkainen) and "black sick" in Swedish (svartsjuk) means jealous.

"Blue socked", sinisukka, is a historical, negative term for a well-educated woman who's into science or literature, both in Finnish and in English.

Blue eyed in Finnish (sinisilmäinen) means a person who is naive and believes what others say, even if it's untrue.

Blue-eyed in English means favourite.

"I'm blue" in English means "I'm feeling down / depressed".

The same in German, "Ich bin blau", means "I'm drunk".

Sidetrack: In most languages, "I'm full" means I've eaten enough. But in Swedish, "jag är full" means "I'm drunk", and "jag är mätt" means I've eaten enough. The adjective for this eaten-enough-state in Finnish is "kylläinen", and "kyllä" means "yes", so, no idea.

The sidetrack continues: Most languages have a word for the state when you've not hungry, but practically none have a word for the state when you're not thirsty. Germans have tried to fix this by inventing "sitt". ("Satt" is the word for the not-hungry state.)

"Green" in Finnish (vihreä), and in other languages, means inexperienced. "Yellow nose" in Finnish (keltanokka) means the same.

Being "green with envy" is quite universal, and so is "green thumb" (being good at gardening). And everybody knows "redneck".

"Brown nosing" in English is "brown tongue" (ruskea kieli) in Finnish. I guess our language is a bit more specific about what the act actually involves.

And to conclude the list: a recent addition, also used across language boundaries, is using "rainbow" as a qualifier, such as "rainbow family" ("Regenbogenfamilie" in German, "sateenkaariperhe" in Finnish).


  1. Both associations to blue eyed as naive as well as the green for inexperienced do as well exist in german, as "blauäugig" and "grün hinter den Ohren" (green behind his ears)

    1. In Finnish, if you're experienced, you're "wet behind the ears". Apparently in English too.