Mangling German (was: Cats)

Britta Koch bkoch at rz.uni-osnabrueck.de
Thu Jul 20 15:21:50 EDT 2000


Someone else said that in English you can "verb nouns" or otherwise
change the language. Well, in German you aren't as free, only with the
creation of composite nouns (or the use of English words - I still
wonder how to write that past of "recyclen").

Oh, and as someone who has mangled English (like "tick me off on a
tangent" - it may have come from anticken = nudge), I apologize for
flaming you, Paul... it's just I see bad German on the web quite a lot,
and it's getting to me ;)

> I do sympathise.  But the name Blitzen (as has been pointed out) is an American
> one, admittedly from the German phrase "Donner und Blitzen", which was used,
> probably by Robert May, to give names to two of Santa's reindeer [*].
> 

Why "Donner und Blitzen"? "Donner und Blitz", or "Donnern und Blitzen",
to use the verb forms...

> But more to the point, why shouldn't a person or animal have a plural name?
> I've met plenty of (literary) horses called "Socks", for example.  And
> stereotyped crooks called Fingers.  Not to mention Blyton's "Big Ears"...

But Blitzen *isn't* the plural of Blitz! *Blitze* is!

> 
> I agree about the umlaut, though.  If like me you don't trust it to get through
> e-mail gateways, though, surely you'd expand it to "Ue"?
> 
> Philip.
> 
> PS I won't try and write any German to you - I'd be sure to leave out at least
> one comma...

That's OK - in informal conversation, I can let it pass ;)
> 
> PPS [*] Santa Claus has always struck me as a mixed-language name.  Does anyone
> know if there is any language in which both halves of the name are natural forms
> of the words ("Saint" and "Nicholas" in case you hadn't twigged)?

Well, the German version of Nicholas is Nikolaus - so Sankt Nikolaus
(or even Niklaus) could have become Santa Claus...

Britta, who will really let this drop now...
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