Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Most pregnant

Since I've successfully finished being pregnant some time ago, here it comes: the pregnancy kitchen linguistics post!

In addition to having a bun in the oven, the word "pregnant" means "Having numerous possibilities or implications; full of promise; abounding in ability, resources", and the most common non-pregnancy-related usage is of course "a pregnant pause".

(Curiously, there are also comparative and superlative forms for "pregnant" - and at some point "most pregnant" was indeed very descriptive.)

However, the English word doesn't give justice to the 24/7/40 feeling of "kill me, kill me now" the same way the corresponding Finnish word does. "Raskaus" (pregnancy) means literally "heaviness", but in addition to "heavy", "raskas" can mean "tedious", "difficult", "painful", or "sad". The origin is maybe (this is kitchen linguistics so we don't really care) the Latin-based "gravidity" (note: gravity).

Side track: Germans, so politically correct. Before moving to Germany, when my husband was browsing jobs online, he saw job titles like "Software Engineer (m / w)" and asked me what "m / w" meant. I said "well, it could mean männlich / weiblich (male / female), but that would be a bit silly, I don't know...". Turns out it really means that. Names of occupations such as "Engineer" have a much stronger association to the male gender than in English, and if you use "Engineer" as is, it'll mean "male engineer". There are several linguistic and typographical hacks and forms of varying awkwardness to make words include both genders.

Another instance of German online political correctness can be found on university websites: Wintersemester is abbreviated "WS", but Sommersemester is abbreviated "SoSe". After a second, it's obvious why.

However, Germans have no problems with abbreviating Schwangerschaft (pregnancy) "SS" in the colloquial Internet. Once I felt slightly weird clicking a discussion thread link "Lachsschinken in der SS" (after googling whether it's allowed to eat this type of ham). For a moment I feared that the discussion might after all be about the culinary preferences of the said organization...

By the way, Germans also colloquially abbreviate Muttermund (cervix, literally "mother mouth") "MuMu", which is cutely creepy or creepily cute depending on which way you look at it.


  1. In Danish, "gravid" does indeed mean pregnant. Though I have never heard "gravidere" or "gravidest", there is "højgravid".

  2. In Danish, "gravid" does indeed mean pregnant. Though I have never heard "gravidere" or "gravidest", there is "højgravid".