German Chancellor Angela Merkel has in the past warned of Öffnungsdiskusionorgien (translated as an orgy of discussions about openings), one of one of the 1,200 words added to the German lexicon as reported by the Leibniz Institute for the German Language. (Michael Kappeler/Pool via AP)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has in the past warned of Öffnungsdiskusionorgien (translated as an orgy of discussions about openings), one of one of the 1,200 words added to the German lexicon as reported by the Leibniz Institute for the German Language. (Michael Kappeler/Pool via AP)

Pandemic changed your life in some way? The Germans have a word for it

German lexicon grew by 1,200 words in 2020, many inspired by COVID-19 pandemic

Homer Simpson’s insight that “those Germans have a word for everything” might never have been more appropriate than during these pandemic days.

According to the Leibniz Institute for the German Language, the German lexicon added 1,200 words during the last year, well above the annual rate of some 200 new words, with many of the new additions inspired by COVID-19 in capturing the zeitgeist.

The list has appeared as many coronamüde (tired of Covid-19) and overzommed (no translation needed) Germans struggle to understand why authorities have so badly bungled the country’s vaccination program in suffering a collective case of impfneid (envy of those who have been vaccinated), despite the fact that a Germany company is responsible for one of the first two vaccines to become available.

That country’s second wave once again forced millions of children into distanzunterricht (distance learning) over the late fall and winter months while closing large parts of the economy, including retail shops, restaurants and hair salons, leaving many with a coronafrisur (coronacoiffure).

RELATED: COVID-19: Is B.C. reopening too soon? Lessons from Germany, Korea

Contrary to its popular image as a centralized-run state, Germany is a complex amalgam of federal, state and municipal administrative authorities, who often fail to communicate and coordinate with each other, their political masters, both large and small, prone to parochial and provincial interests that clash and conflict with the bigger picture.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has chided this tendency in the past, when she accused state leaders weary of restrictions of engaging in what she called a Öffnungsdiskusionorgie, here best translated as an orgy of discussions about openings.

The mood on the streets has not been better. Maskenmuffel (mask grouches) often stand accused of being a maskenarschloch (maskasshole), while querdenker (lateral thinkers) concerned about restrictions have stormed the steps of the Reichstag while spreading conspiracy theories about Bill Gates.

It used to be so much better. The selfish, panic-induced hamsterkauf (hoarding buy) of the first wave soon gave away to collective solidarity as balkonsänger (balcony singers) serenaded essential workers as Germany’s response to the pandemic drew praise as the government pumped billions into the economy. Notably, the German finance minister used the English word bazooka (rather than panzerfaust) to describe this approach, an understandable choice in light of recent German history.

But any smug feelings of schadenfreude (long in lexicon) about the failing of others, especially those in the United States, have disappeared a long time ago, as has gemütlichkeit (warm of sense of comfort), another German word not easily translated but very precise in its meaning for German-speakers.

The distanzbier (distance beer) with selected friends has become the new social norm. What was once a friendly kiss on the cheek has turned into a todesküsschen (kiss of death) and fans of German football must contend themselves with watching geisterspiele (literally ghost games, but figuratively games without fans) on television.

The sheer volume of new words is also reminder of a saying from another great humorist, Mark Twain, who said only the dead have time to study German.


Do you have a story tip? Email: vnc.editorial@blackpress.ca.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A woman crosses 176th Street in Cloverdale April 12, 2021. 176th will not host Cloverdale Market Days this year as the popular street fest is just the latest casualty in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo: Malin Jordan)
Cloverdale Market Days cancelled again

Organizer says popular street fest will return in 2022

Lord Tweedsmuir’s Tremmel States-Jones jumps a player and the goal line to score a touchdown against the Kelowna Owls in 2019. The face of high school football, along with a majority of other high school sports, could significantly change if a new governance proposal is passed at the B.C. School Sports AGM May 1. (Photo: Malin Jordan)
Power struggle: New governance model proposed for B.C. high school sports

Most commissions against new model; BCSS and its board in favour

Vintage scrapbooks gave way to Instagram and Facebook. (Photo: Ursula Maxwell-Lewis)
COLUMN: Prince Philip just got on with it—to our surprise

Ursula Maxwell-Lewis reflects on the passing Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

The Delta Police Department’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Unit: (from left) Const. Joel Thirsk, analyst Jody Johnson and Staff Sgt. Sukh Sidhu. (Delta Police Department photo)
Delta police respond to rising number of hate crimes

Police have received 15 reports so far in 2021, compared to 12 in all of 2020

Researchers say residents should leave sleeping bats alone while they exit hibernation. (Cathy Koot photo)
Spring ‘signal’ brings White Rock, Surrey bats out of hibernation

Community Bat Programs of BC says it’s best to leave sleeping bats alone

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as she walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Top doctor warns B.C.’s daily cases could reach 3,000 as COVID hospitalizations surge

There are more than 400 people in hospital, with 125 of them in ICU

The father of Aaliyah Rosa planted a tree and laid a plaque in her memory in 2018. (Langley Advance Times files)
Final witness will extend Langley child murder trial into May or June

Lengthy trial began last autumn with COVID and other factors forcing it to take longer than expected

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The corner of 96th Avenue and Glover Road in Fort Langley now has traffic signals, and new “touchless” signal activation buttons. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)
Busy Fort Langley intersection gets ‘touchless’ crosswalk signals

The new traffic light started operation in April

A crossing guard stops traffic as students wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 arrive at Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary School, in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. A number of schools in the Fraser Health region, including Woodward Hill, have reported cases of the B.1.7.7 COVID-19 variant first detected in the U.K. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID-infected students in Lower Mainland schools transmitting to 1 to 2 others: data

Eight to 13 per cent of COVID cases among students in the Lower Mainland were acquired in schools, B.C. says

Dr. Bonnie Henry – in a B.C. health order that went into effect April 12 – granted WorkSafe inspectors the power to enforce workplace closures with COVID-19 spread. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
24 workplace closures being enforced in Fraser Health under new COVID-19 order

WorkSafe inspectors the power to enforce closures if COVID-19 has spread to 3 or more employees

Maple Ridge Fire and Rescue were conducting training operations at Gold Creek Falls when a firefighter broke their leg. (Eileen Robinson photo - Special to The News)
Firefighter suffers broken leg during swift water rescue practice in Golden Ears park

A training exercise at Maple Ridge waterfall on Wedesday results in mishap

Norm Scott, president of Royal Canadian Legion Branch # 91, is disappointed the Legion does not qualify for COVID financial assistance from the provincial government. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C.’s pandemic aid package passing Legion branches by

Federal non-profit status stymies provincial assistance eligibility

Most Read