Those Wacky Germans

John
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One of my favorite leisure activities is watching the Scripps National Spelling Bee, which admittedly aired like two weeks ago but in my defense I've been getting married and moving and weeping vociferously re. the United States national soccer team's loss to the Czeck Republic.

At any rate, any serious speller (and I myself was third runner up in the Audubon Park Elementary School spelling bee as a fourth grader) knows that the German is the Everest of languages. This year, for instance, both the winning word (ursprache) and the word misspelled by the adorably Canadian Finola Hackett (weltschmerz) were German. In a related story, they are fantastic words. Those wacky Germans have a word for everything.
Ursprache, for instance, means "the lost language of Paradise."

Weltschmerz, which is in the running to be my all-time favorite word ever, means "depression caused by comparison of the actual state of the world with an ideal state."

Other personal favorites from the world of German include "sitzpinkler," a word that plays a sizable role in my new novel and literally means "a man who sits to pee." How we have survived so long in the English speaking world without the word sitzpinkler is one of the great human mysteries; hopefully together we can bring it into the common lexicon so that one day young spellers in Washington, D.C. will stumble all over it.

For a great collection of German words in English, visit here--but keep your pop-up blocker on.

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June 12, 2006 - 9:36am
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