The Beauty of German

June 11, 2014 § Leave a comment


You’ll know if you’ve read here a little while that I adore etymology. Knowing the story behind a word, the road it’s travelled through all its iterations…it’s magical to me.

In particular, German literal translations are great. I’ve never known such observation and down-to-earth reasoning behind the birth of a word (except in American place names – boy those pilgrims had to name a lot of settlements!).

Here are my favourite animal names:

Schildkröte (tortoise) or ‘shield toad’

Fledermaus (bat) or ‘flutter mouse’

Stinktier (skunk) or ‘stink animal’

Nacktschnecke (slug) or ‘naked snail’

Seeigel (sea urchin) or ‘lake hedgehog’

…and a fruit for good measure: Glühbirne (light bulb) or ‘glow pear’

Of course, if you go far enough back into our etymology you will find some very base reasoning behind lots of the roots of English words, but I love that these have stuck around in German. It’s like they were just so sensible that they never needed changing.

That would just be inefficient.

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