Thursday, 13 November 2014


I'd like to tell you about a funny language situation that happened in a suburban train this week. I boarded the train after a middle-age-plus woman. She walked along the aisle, looking for a seat. There was an empty one, she didn't take it, so I took it. Then she changed her mind, turned back, saw that I had taken the seat, and mumbled: "... Wurst..." (sausage). I was so proud that I understood why she would mumble that! ("Wurst" = "egal" = "the same" = something you don't care about. "Es ist mir Wurst" = "It's sausage to me" = "I don't care about it".) I'm sure that would've utterly confused me 3 years ago. Why would the lady mumble "sausage"?

Next topic: random things people tell me because I have a language blog.

1) Apropos mnemonics

There's a German memonic: MesseR - Rechts (knife - right) + GabeL - Links (fork - left), so, when setting a table, the knife goes to the right and the fork to the left.

And a Finnish joke about a mnemonic: Why do women like to drive a Volvo? Because it has such a handy mnemonic on the steering wheel: VolvO, V like "vasemmalle" (to the left) and O like "oikealle" (to the right). Notable was that this joke was told by a German, and I had never heard of it before.

2) Apropos comma and its usefulness in marriages

By the way, an offensive Finnish expression for somebody who pays too much attention to detail is literally "comma fucker" (pilkunnussija). An almost equivalent German term is "Korinthenkacker" (raisin pooper).

There are plenty of creative ways to insult people in German. For example, you can say that someone is a "Schattenparker" (somebody who parks his car in the shade), "Warmduscher" (somebody who takes warm showers), Frauenversteher (somebody who understands women), Jeans-Bügler (somebody who irons his jeans) or Handschuhschneeballwerfer (somebody who throws snowballs with his gloves on).


  1. The Danish version of Korinthenkacker would be "flueknepper" (fly fucker).

    I admit to 4 of the 5 insults. I don't iron my jeans, though, only parts of my button-down shirts and fabric that I'm sewing on. 4 1/2 then?

    1. That is fascinating, I wonder if fucking small things is considered an insult in other languages too.

  2. Interesting, I can't think of a suitably crude English equivalent to Korinthenkacker. "Nitpicker" is the closest, and it's hardly rude at all. (And to provide a handy example, Korinthen are more precisely currants, rather than raisins.)

    1. Translation failed me, and your example is awesome.

      Do you mean currants as in blackcurrants and such?

      In Finnish "korintti" is something different than German Korinthe so that might have confused me further.