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Pandemiebedingte Neologismen

We humans are linguistically inventive creatures. Whenever new circumstances arise, we create new phrases and expressions that describe and refer to the new reality around us. These newly coined words are called neologisms 1, they are inherit to every language, and one language in particular has been extremely productive lately.

According to the Leibniz-Institut für deutsche Sprache (IDS), Germans have come up with more than a thousand neologisms since the pandemic started. I find German compounds fascinating, so today I’m bringing you my favorite five pandemiebedingte Neologismen! 2

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What happens to your social life when bars, clubs and restaurants have been closed for ages? You can meet a friend for an Abstandsbier and enjoy each other’s company from a safe distance. Too bad it’s too cold to actually enjoy being outside!

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The Corona-Frisur is the stork nest that builds up on your head after months of not being able visit a hair professional. Your corona hairdo is an uncanny forest of tangled knots, split ends and uneven sides due to DIY-haircuts. You may even find some tumbleweed and mice up there.

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We all know the type: blatantly refuses to wear a mask or wears it below the nose 3, relentlessly complains about the corona measures and basically is in dire need of revisiting 5th grade biology. If you bump into this guy, Maskentrottel is your word to go!

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A Geisterspiel is a match in which the players perform the game without an audience in the stadium, and the game is broadcast for viewers at home. I’m not a fan of football, but imagining ghosts chasing a ball certainly makes me chuckle.

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Hamsters are known for collecting and storing food in their large cheek pouches. This habit might be adorable in animals, but not so appreciated in humans. Hamsteritis (Hamster + itis 4) refers to the unhealthy tendency to panic-buy and stockpile unnecessary amounts of food and supplies in your household. A good example of Hamsteritis is the worldwide toilet paper shortage of March 2020.

Das war’s! Do you have a favorite neologism? If you liked this article, let me know and I might draw a second batch of pandemiebedingte Neologismen.

Stay safe, folks!

The Brain on Multilingualism

This is the brain on multilingualism. We try to keep all our languages going, and the more we practice, the more they wrestle for space. The eternal question: how can we keep our languages in good shape while welcoming new ones? Should we just sit back and enjoy the learning process, while being cognizant of our neuroplasticity?

This lovely illustration is available as print, sticker and further stationery on the Expat Gone Foreign Store! ✨

Untranslatable Universals (I)

Have you ever had a feeling that you just couldn’t put to words? It’s hard to describe something when you can’t even name it, isn’t it? Well, chances are that somewhere, some language has the exact word you need. In the series Untranslatable Universals we delve into words from many a different language that don’t exist in others, yet convey universal human emotions. Let’s begin!

 

Expat Gone Foreign, language comics, linguistics, untranslatable words for universal emotions, Tagalog

kilig (n.) Tagalog – Rush of exhilaration caused by a romantic happenstance, such as making eye contact or talking to one’s crush.

 

Expat Gone Foreign, language comics, linguistics, untranslatable words for universal emotions, German

Schwellenangst (n.) German – Fear of embarking something new or crossing a threshold.

 

Expat Gone Foreign, language comics, linguistics, untranslatable words for universal emotions, Greek

ελευθερομανία [eleutheromania] (n.) Greek – Intense desire for or obsession with freedom.

 

Expat Gone Foreign, language comics, linguistics, untranslatable words for universal emotions, Japanese

物の哀れ [mono no aware] (n.) Japanese – Bittersweet feeling for appreciation towards beautiful things pared with a deep wistfulness for their ephemeral nature. ‘Mono no aware’ literally means ‘pathos of things’, a sensitivity and sorrow towards the ephemeral.

 

Expat Gone Foreign, language comics, linguistics, untranslatable words for universal emotions, Italian

abbiocco (n.) Italian – Drowsy sensation following a large or hearty meal that often leads to falling asleep.

 

That’s it for now. Do you know more untranslatable universals? Let me know in the comments!

Spanish Animal Idioms

Let’s delve into the fascinating realm of idiomatic expressions once again with a collection of Spanish animal idioms. ¡Vamos allá!

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If someone behaves in a peculiar or crazy manner, it’s safe to say that he or she “está como una cabra”. This idiom literally means “to be like a goat” and originated among farmers. If you have ever observed goats derping around, it’s easy to see how aloof they are.

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The expression “estar como pez en el agua” literally means “to be like fish in the water” and is used to indicate that people are in their element. Think about it: fish feel best in their natural watery habitats.

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“Estar como un pulpo en un garaje”, literally “to be like an octopus in a garage”, means being lost or feeling out of place. It’s the counterpart of “estar como pez en el agua”. Think about it, an octopus in a garage: must be pretty confusing to be surrounded by all kinds of weirdly shaped tools and discarded junk.

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The idiom “tener pájaros en la cabeza”, literally “to have birds in your head”, doesn’t mean that these flying creatures built a nest inside your skull. It refers to someone who is a bit naive and has rather unrealistic ideas, expectations or goals. Although this expression has mildly negative connotations, daydreamers are happy to embrace their birds in the head, and coined the saying “Prefiero tener pájaros en la cabeza que vivir en las jaulas de vuestra mente” 5.

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“Ser un pez gordo”, literally “to be one fat fish”, means being the boss or the person in charge who makes the decisions and holds the power. Other interlinguistic equivalents of “the fat fish” are “das hohe Tier” (the big animal) in German or “Важная птица” (the important bird) in Russian. You don’t want to mess around with the idiomatic fauna!

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The idiom “trabajar como un burro”, literally “to work like a donkey”, means to work extremely hard. The hardworking relative in English would be the horse or the dog.

Eso es todo, amigos. If you enjoyed this post, check out these funny Spanish food idioms.