High German

Tuesday, May 24th, 2016 12:40 pm
lethargic_man: (beardy)
The dialects which together are grouped as German divide into Low German and High German; those in the latter group have undergone what's called the High German Consonant Shift, exemplified by High German words such as Wasser, Pflanze, Straße versus Low German Water, Plante, Straat.

For decades I thought this "low" versus "high" was a value judgement, like in "High Elvish" or "the High King of Ireland". Then I read that it corresponded to the elevation of where these dialects were spoken: High German in the uplands of southern Germany, Low German in the coastal plains.

Today I realised what it actually refers to: Obviously for a period of at least a generation the High Germans must have been too stoned to pronounce their plosives properly. ;^)

British plug design

Saturday, April 2nd, 2016 11:26 pm
lethargic_man: (Default)
German plugs have 180° rotational symmetry; it does not matter which way up you insert them into their sockets. British plugs do: you can only put them in one way around, and there's separate names for the live and neutral pins, and different colours for the wires going to them: brown and blue. It wasn't until recently that it occurred to me to wonder: why? These things run alternating current: the electricity runs one way through the wires, then the other way, fifty times a second. There's really no difference between live and neutral. So why do we distinguish between them, and make plugs that have to be put in the right way up (which is not always possible with the design of some plugs or the sockets' location)?
lethargic_man: The awful German language (Mark Twain's words, not mine) (Die schreckliche deutsche Sprache)

The German people, I read online, have traditionally prided themselves on the fact they have always spoken German, as opposed to their neighbours the French, who abandoned their original language (Gaulish) and took up Latin.

Well, let's have a look at the opening paragraphs of today's headline article in Der Spiegel and see how German it is:

"Islamischer Staat": Amerikas Schattenkrieger jagen IS-Anführer

Hubschrauber, Elite-Soldaten, Spionageflugzeuge: US-Präsident Barack Obama will die Terrorfürsten des IS von einer Spezialeinheit ausschalten lassen. Doch die Strategie gerät in die Kritik.

Die amerikanische Hauptstadt Washington wird am Donnerstag praktisch abgeriegelt. US-Präsident Barack Obama versammelt Staats- und Regierungschefs aus 51 Ländern zum "Nuclear Security Summit".

Offiziell geht es um die Frage, wie die Verbreitung von Atomwaffen in der Welt verhindert werden kann. Doch bei der Konferenz dürfte gleichzeitig vor allem über ein Thema geredet werden: den Kampf gegen den "Islamischen Staat" (IS).

Red denotes words borrowed from Latin; blue from French (possibly via English, and of Latin or Greek ultimate origin), green from Italian, magenta from Greek and cyan from Arabic. Plus of course, the very name Der Spiegel comes of course from Latin speculum, "mirror".

Unfair of me? Possibly, but I was having fun.


lethargic_man: (Default)
Lethargic Man (anag.)

June 2016



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