Wordsmith.org: the magic of words


About | Media | Search | Contact  


Today's Word

Yesterday's Word



AWADmail Issue 778

A Weekly Compendium of Feedback on the Words in A.Word.A.Day and Tidbits about Words and Language

Sponsor’s Message: Does the dad in your life dislike just about everything? Well, we’ve got new for you -- he’ll love our “I Hate Fake” Collection. He won’t admit it, of course. Nope -- so we’d like to invite this week’s Email of the Week winner, Dave Hatfield (see below), as well as all AWADers to Shop For Pop Now and save 10% with coupon ‘dadsrule’.

From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Interesting stories from the Net

Half of World’s Languages Could Be Extinct by 2100
US News & World Report

Trump Wasn’t Always so Linguistically Challenged. What Could Explain the Change?
Stat News

From: Amy Bruno-Lindner (amy.bruno-lindner univie.ac.at)
Subject: gemütlich

I have lived in Vienna, Austria, for 35 years and am fluent in German. The word gemütlich appears without fail in all tourist guides about Vienna in an attempt to convey the essence of what the Viennese value in life. I had always known the word and used the adjective form to describe a cosy corner in a café or the soft pillow my cat had chosen to lie on.

But it wasn’t until one day a few years ago that I truly understood the essence of the word for the Viennese: At the end of an evening with close friends, after we had enjoyed good food and wine and conversation that flowed effortlessly, with one funny story leading to another, I said goodbye to my friends with the words that just popped out of my mouth: “Es war sehr gemütlich mit euch!” (“It was very gemütlich with you!”) I knew then that I had finally understood the word.

Mag. Amy Bruno-Lindner, Senior Lecturer, University of Vienna, Department of English and American Studies, Vienna, Austria

Email of the Week: Brought to you by Father Knows Best -- Shop for Pop Now >

From: Dave Hatfield (ddhatfi verizon.net)
Subject: gemutlich

Gemuetlichkeit was also a very kind and memorable word in a famous German toast in most Oktoberfest tents:

“Ein Prosit”
“Ein Prosit, ein Prosit
Der Gemütlichkeit
Ein Prosit, ein Prosit
Der Gemütlichkeit.

(meaning & recording)

Upon which everyone toasts everyone else at their large table and takes a drink from the normally large liter mugs of bier, although it’s quite proper now for many to drink wine at the tables today. While it really doesn’t translate directly into English, it’s meant to convey a sense of community and coziness with your fellow tablemates, most of whom you’ve never met, and those around you.

We actually made many friends at every fest we went to and always carried calling cards with us and paper to collect names, numbers, and email addresses. We had many dinners with new friends made at fests.

Dave Hatfield, Severn, Maryland

From: Kathryn Buck (blsspks aol.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--gemutlich

gemütlich, Götterdämmerung

Please. Bitte.

Kathryn Buck, New York, New York

Well, when a word travels over to another language, often it loses its appendages in the journey. In English, these words are mostly used without accent marks. Similarly, German spells nouns with an uppercase initial and we follow that convention for a while when the word is new. Once a word has been acclimatized it loses the uppercase.

That said, there was a typo in the etymology of the word gemutlich: The German spelling should have been listed as gemütlich, not gemüetlich. Interestingly, the former spelling of the word did include both ü and e: gemüetlîch.

Also, many readers wrote about the earliest documented use of the word. Please note that we list the earliest document date of the word’s use in English.
-Anu Garg

From: Linda Owens (lindafowens netzero.net)
Subject: gemuetlich

My favorite German word, thanks. Also, Twain once said he’d rather decline two drinks than one German adjective. When living in Frankfurt am Main between 1967 and 1969, when my husband was in the US Army, I learned to mumble the endings. Now I wish I’d learned them. But I was busy with two babies and one on the way.

Linda Owens, Exeter, Rhode Island

From: Frances Witt (fwitt shaw.ca)
Subject: gemutlich

Another lovely way to express the very trendy Danish and Norwegian word hygge. Easy to find a million google hits on this now popular word, but too new for my autospell to recognize it.

Frances Witt, Victoria, Canada

From: Eleanor Holwerda (eholwerda shaw.ca)
Subject: gemutlich

The Dutch have a similar word, gezellig.

Eleanor Holwerda, Victoria, Canada

From: Ellie Weld (ellieweld gn.apc.org)
Subject: gesellschaft

In my twenties I was an editorial assistant at the Yale University Press. In warm weather we would take our sandwiches and several bottles of Liebfraumilch to the nearest patch of grass for a jolly lunch. We called ourselves the Liebfraumilchgesellschaft; so for me the word evokes youth, sunshine, and German white wine.

Ellie Weld, London, UK

From: Michael Lutzeier (ganzleichtzumerken yahoo.com)
Subject: Gesellschaft vs Gemeinschaft

In Germany every “Gesellschaft” calls itself publicly “Gemeinschaft” from the get-go, as to disguise the impersonal obligations towards the society as personal ones, and thus make their members more biddable and obedient.

For example, the European Community is called Europäische Gemeinschaft, formerly Europäische Wirtschaftsgemeinschaft. So it’s clearly based on economics. Shouldn’t it then be called Gesellschaft?

Michael Lutzeier, Dießen, Germany

From: Hannah Kruse (c-kruse t-online.de)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--gesamtkunstwerk

The term “Gesamtkunstwerk” has got an additional meaning in German in the last years. If someone looks visibly different, breaking rules of “common fashion”, they may be referred to as “Gesamtkunstwerk” behind their back -- and it usually is not meant in a flattering way. This is rather sad as such “paradise birds” and other “misfits” enrich our society and should not be scolded, not even in veiled terms.

Hannah Kruse, Gera, Germany

From: Ken Behrmann (behrmann jccc.edu)
Subject: krummholz

Krummholz is familiar to mountain hikers and is a fairly common term in descriptions of trails that pass above the treeline, e.g “The trail turns right on steep switchbacks ... Tall spruce give way to krummholz, willow, forbs, and sedges ...” (source)

Ken Behrmann, Lenexa, Kansas

From: Richard W. Burris (r_w_burris comcast.net)
Subject: Krumm

Early music enthusiasts certainly know the German word for “bent” because a renaissance instrument, the Krummhorn (often Anglicized to Crumhorn) has been revived and is played today. The “bent horn” is a capped reed instrument. In other words, the double reed is inside a cap and the lips do not touch the reeds, which makes exact intonation very difficult. The sound has a buzzing component to it and they are often referred to as “buzzies” in the English-speaking world. (video, 1 min.)

Richard W. Burris, Alexandria, Virginia

From: Carolyn C Martin (carokei msn.com)
Subject: German

I will always be grateful for having taken German. It so clarified the distinction between the direct and indirect object as well as how important word order in a sentence is in English. On the other hand, that a pencil is masculine (der bleistift), a pen feminine (die feder), and a piece of paper neutral (das papier) has not made much of a difference in my life.

Carolyn C Martin, Litchfield, Connecticut

From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Gesamtkunstwerk

Inspired by the somewhat hyperbolic, yet droll cited Mark Twain quotation regarding the extreme length of many German words (“Those things are not words, they are alphabetical processions.”), I came up with this Bavarian alpine scenario, where the sneezing alphorn player’s resounding “ACHOO!” and Twain’s polite “Gesundheit!” reply continue to echo through the rarefied air. Perhaps adding credence to Twain’s earlier quoted lexicographic observation. Ha!

Reflecting on Anu’s “NOTES” and Ms. Marjana Gaponenko’s cited USAGE quotation for the word “Gesamtkunstwerk”, I’ve envisioned Herr Richard Wagner conjuring up a kind of crazed mishmash of performing arts; his trying to intellectually synthesize his thoughts for future writings regarding the commonality within all these seemingly disparate artistic disciplines.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Anagrams of this week’s words

The text in each box is an anagram of the text in other boxes.

1. gemutlich
2. anschauung
3. gesellschaft
4. gesamtkunstwerk
5. krummholz
= 1. mum’s snuggle
2. gaze
3. human knack
4. music sketch
5. trees halt full growth
= 1. snug; calm; mmm, hugs
2. hunch
3. klutzes’ league
4. Wagner’s folk & art
5. thickets
    -Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com)   -Robert Jordan, Lampang, Thailand (alfiesdad ymail.com)

From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Limericks

The garden was truly gemutlich
till Eve, not a very astute chick,
made a mistake
by heeding a snake
and committing her infamous fruit pick.
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

Doesn’t Speaker Ryan look cute lick-
ing the Presidential boot? Ick!
Whereas once he said “Nein!,”
now he wallows with swine
and in muck and corruption’s gemutlich.
-Glenn R. Diamond, Highland Park, New Jersey (slartibartfastx yahoo.com)

It’s gemutlich to sit by a fire,
Imploring the flames to leap higher.
A gluhwein or three,
A Mozart LP,
Good friends, that’s my heart’s desire.
-Kathy Deutsch, Melbourne, Australia (kathy deutsch.net.au)

Said Trump, “Mike, you look so cherubic,
My lies from your mouth sound gemutlich.”
“My job,” answered Pence,
“Is to make you less tense.
Now relax while I kneel and your boot lick.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Our elders were sure they knew best.
Their anschauung they shared with zest.
I swore I would never!
But now that I’m clever,
The world needs my wisdom expressed.
-Anna C Johnston, Coarsegold, California (ajohnston13 gmail.com)

The psychiatrist could not hold his tongue
When it came to emoting anschauung.
His astute intuition
Earned him a tony position
As a disciple of Dr. Carl Jung.
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

A complacent and calm anschauung
Will give us disease of the lung.
We must show hysterics
At coal mines and derricks
Lest Trump turn our air into dung.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

My grocery store is well-staffed.
The clerks and I have Gesellschaft.
When we meet
On the street,
We greet like old friends -- then feel daft.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Now Trump has two ways that he staffed,
It’s gemeinschaft or gesellschaft.
Those who are related,
The former is stated.
Ivanka and Jared just laughed.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

At the office today my whole team laughed
At my jokes as though spellbound by witchcraft.
But home with my honey
It seems I’m not funny.
Are friendships at work all gesellschaft?
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Be he African, Asian, or Turk,
the bard deems man “a piece of work”
and science confirms
he’s more complex than the worms;
in fact, he’s a gesamtkunstwerk!
-Brenda J. Gannam, Brooklyn, New York (gannamconsulting earthlink.net)

With performances held in the gorse,
It was billed as MacLeod’s Tour de Force.
With Bagpipes and Twerk”
Has, thankfully, now run its course.
-Phil Graham, Tulsa, Oklahoma (pgraham1946 cox.net)

At the movies I love a gesamtkunstwerk
That stars the adorable James T. Kirk.
There’s music and makeup
And spaceships they fake up
And stories where dastardly villains lurk.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

When he speaks everyone from the room bolts.
His locution -- twisted as a krummholz,
purveys gloom and doom.
It makes language nerds fume,
but it did get him all the “new broom” votes.
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

They climbed heights on a mountain trail,
Which their ponies had learned to scale,
And near the krummholz
They rested the colts,
Who were spryer than a Clydesdale.
-Chris Papa, Colts Neck, New Jersey (doxite32 gmail.com)

Now abroad is our President Krummholz.
Let’s hurry and set all the deadbolts.
The sheiks, then the Pope,
Now PMs have lost hope
For he’s acting like Stalag 13’s Schultz.

-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

From: Phil Graham (pgraham1946 cox.net)
Subject: These words made me say, “Götterdämmerung!”

By losing in the practice trial, the law student suffered gemutlich.

Up anschauung I feel (and smell) better.

To avoid being caught by cheetahs, gesellschaft to run fast.

When the kaucho mounts, his Kuatemalan krummholz the reins.

Phil Graham, Tulsa, Oklahoma

From: Deet Lewis (deetlew60 gmail.com)
Subject: How much I enjoy this website!

I have learned SO much over the years I’ve received Word.A.Day and have told many people about it. I’m an English-speaker living in a Spanish-speaking country (for 24 years) and am glad to be reminded how rich my native language is. And because my parents were European, I enjoy when you explain foreign words that English has absorbed. THANK YOU & GRACIAS.

Deet Lewis, Antigua, Guatemala

The moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life -- the sick, the needy and the handicapped. -Hubert Horatio Humphrey, US Vice President (1911-1978)

We need your help

Help us continue to spread the magic of words to readers everywhere


Subscriber Services
Awards | Stats | Links | Privacy Policy
Contribute | Advertise

© 1994-2024 Wordsmith