Projekt 365 „A German Word“ #7: Zeitlupe

ZEITLUPE: slow-motion, commonly abbreviated as Slowmo. An effect in film-making whereby time appears to be slowed down. You’ve seen that many times. The SciFi „The Matrix“ for example was a milestone in the use of slow-motion with the visual effect known as „bullet time“, which allows the viewer to explore a moment progressing in extreme slow-motion as the camera appears to orbit around the scene at normal speed.
In slow-motion you’re able to examine things closely. Amazing discoveries are to be made. Things that are too fast for our eyes become noticeable. Slow-motion excites your curiosity and your spirit of research.

The English term is more precise but the German word ZEITLUPE is somewhat … err, let me put it like this: lovelier. And it implies so much more. „Zeit“ and „Lupe“ — „time“ and „magnifier“.

The deceleration of time, a slow movement. An attempt to stop the march of time. It’s as if your able to rule this unalterable physical quantity. Slow movement should be the order of the day. Take a deep breath, think for a minute or two and savour the moment. And eyeball something you did not notice before.


Projekt 365 „A German Word“ #6: vielleicht

Vielleicht: maybe, perhaps, possibly, probably, presumedly. Or, to say it the old-fashioned, archaic way: mayhap, belike. Other German words like „mutmaßlich“ are quite similar to „vielleicht“ but potentially a little less tentative.

Vielleicht“ is definitely maybe the most interesting among them. Cut it in half, and you’ll discover „viel“ and „leicht“. „Much, very“ and „easy“. This literal sense underlines the open possibility of an easy change of mind or heart.

Projekt 365 „A German Word“ #5: blümerant

Blümerant: queasy, dizzy, giddy.
A Germanized loanword borowed from French „bleumourant“ (fading blue, in the sense of „dying blue“ due to „mourant“). Once your head is swimming, your skin turns pale and slightly blue because of the cyanosis.

Blümerant — dying blue — is endangered. I see a high risk of its extinction. Ferocious! Apparently not cool enough for the world out there. Despite this, blümerant is such a gem. Saying „Mir wird blümerant“ is the announcement of an indisposition without losing the countenance.

Projekt 365 „A German Word“ #4: Quatsch

QUATSCH: nuts, fiddlesticks, pulp, nonsense, jabberwocky, balderdash, flapdoodle. However you like it. The English language offers a lot of synonyms. Besides: The German language as well. („Mumpitz“ and „Schmonzes“ for example.)

But QUATSCH is very special and unique ‚cause it’s utterly onomatopoetic. It reminds me of stepping on an unlocked mustard tube … the yellow stuff oozing out … making this sound: QUATSCH.

Projekt 365 „A German Word“ #3: Pappschächtelchen

Pappschächtelchen. A little cardboard box. To be found everywhere containing — whatever. Little secrets, a life’s achievements, collections of buttons or screws, drugs, love letters … if you know what I mean.

A friend of mine, a spanish physician, once told me a little story. The physician’s uncle, a madrilenian doctor, was on standby when he received an emergency call from the Queen’s palace. Nothing serious, just stomach trouble. After having examined closely, he suggested a therapy. The Queen asked him to wait, left the room and returned with … a cardboard box full of medicines.(An astonishing fact, isn’t it?)

Let’s conclude: You’ll even find carboard boxes where you do not expect it. Sometimes you’ll find surprising things in cardboard boxes. As Forrest Gump said: „Life is like a box of chocolates – you never know what you’re gonna get.“ 

Everbody owns little, tiny cardboard boxes but the English language doesn’t know the German -chen. The diminutive -chen makes things smaller. And cozy, somehow. Almost evanescent.

I love this word: Pappschächtelchen. It’s like an unfilfilled  pledge in a cubbyhole.

Projekt 365 „A German Word“: Wächterlymphknotenlokalisationsdiagnostik

Wächterlymphknotenlokalisationsdiagnostik: diagnostic investigation in order to localize the sentinel lymph node. I reckon that German is the only language which produces such word monstrosities*. 41 characters in just one word. Wow!

Sentinel lymph nodes are the first first nodes reached by metastasizing cancer cells from a primary tumor. The lymphatic fluid is an easy and convenient way for metastases to spread to other regions. If the very first regional lymph node, the sentinel, is free of cancer cells,  then it is highly improbable that the cancer has spread to any other area of the body.

A low-activity radioactive substance (Technetium-99m) is injected near the tumor, then a lymphoscintigraphy is performed.

[Source of the word: Strahlenschutzanweisung eines Klinikums]


* The only language except for Welsh. Need a proof?


This is the incredibly unpronounceable name of a village on the island of Anglesey in Wales.

The name means: [St] Mary’s Church (Llanfair) [in] the hollow (pwll) of the white hazel (gwyngyll) near (goger) the rapid whirlpool (y chwyrndrobwll) [and] the church of [St] Tysilio(llantysilio) with a red cave ([a]g ogo goch). [Source]

Projekt 365 „A German Word“ #1: Fernweh

Well, try to look it up in a dictionary: FERNWEH. You’ll find no close match. Not in English, not in Italian, neither in Spanish nor in any other language.

Fernweh is as german as it gets. It contains „distance“ and „woe, ache“. „Yen to see distant places“ would be an appropriate translation. Sometimes you’ll meet the word „wanderlust“. „Wanderlust“ — a german word to explain a german word. (?!?) It seems as if the wish to travel is essentially German.

Whenever you have itchy feet, you might want to use the word „Fernweh“ instead. ‚Cause it implicatest an emotion between pain and hope wedded to the desire to be someplace else.

Besides: A happy New Year!

Ankündigung: Projekt 365 „A German Word“

Ein deutsches Wort. Ein Lieblingswort, ein Wortungetüm, ein Fundstück. Ein Unwort, ein Fachwort. Was auch immer.
Dazu eine kurze englische Erklärung. Nix Aufwendiges. Kurz und knapp. Eben KISS — keep it short and simple. Um zu zeigen, was die deutsche Sprache so einzigartig und komplex macht. Und so schön, denn manche behaupten, im Deutschen gäbe es Ausdrücke, die es treffender sagen könnten, als es jede andere Sprache vermag.
Mein Vorsatz für 2012.