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

Eckville Town Office. (File Photo)
Town of Eckville planning pathway around Manor and Villa

Plans for the pathway has changed slightly following feedback from the community

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, April 6, 2020. Top Tory leaders of past and present will speak with supporters today about what a conservative economic recovery from COVID-19 could look like. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
O’Toole to vote against Conservative MP’s private bill on ‘sex-selective abortion’

Erin O’Toole said he supports a woman’s right to choose and will personally vote against the private member’s bill

A empty classroom is pictured at Eric Hamber Secondary school in Vancouver, B.C. Monday, March 23, 2020. The Alberta government says schools in Calgary will move to at-home learning starting Monday for students in grades 7 to 12.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Calgary schools to shift to at-home learning for grades 7 to 12 due to COVID-19

The change, due to COVID-19, is to last for two weeks

A man wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as he walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
COVID-19 spike in B.C. could overwhelm B.C. hospitals: modelling group

There are 397 people are in hospital due to the virus, surpassing a previous high of 374 seen in December

Ron Rauch and his wife Audrey are photographed at their home in Victoria, Friday, March 5, 2021. Their daughter Lisa Rauch died on Christmas Day 2019 when a tactical officer with the Victoria Police Department shot her in the back of the head with plastic bullets after barricading herself in a room that was on fire. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. families push for changes as special committee examines provincial Police Act

Solicitor General Mike Farnworth acknowledged the need to update the legislation last year

Major-General Dany Fortin, left, looks on as Minister of Public Services and Procurement Anita Anand provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020. The Public Health Agency of Canada has set aside up to $5 billion to pay for COVID-19 vaccines. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada negotiating contracts to secure COVID-19 booster shots for next year: Anand

Most of Canada’s current vaccine suppliers are already testing new versions against variants

(Government of Canada)
Liberal MP caught stark naked during House of Commons video conference

William Amos, in Quebec, appeared on the screens of his fellow members of Parliament completely naked

Health Canada headquarters in Ottawa. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)
Health Canada releases guidelines for reducing COVID-19 transmission at home

Improve indoor air quality by opening up your windows and doors, among other encouraged ventilation measures

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney updates media on measures taken to help with COVID-19, in Edmonton on Friday, March 20, 2020. Alberta is set to join three other provinces in exploring the feasibility of small modular reactors as a clean energy option. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Four provinces to sign memorandum of understanding to explore small nuclear reactors

Alberta government said in August that it would enter into the agreement to help diversify its energy sector

Sharis Carr, a nurse at the Aaron E. Henry Community Health Service Center in Clarksdale, Miss., holds a box containing doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine Wednesday, April 7, 2021. The U.S. is recommending a “pause” in using the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to investigate reports of potentially dangerous blood clots. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
EXPLAINER: What’s known about COVID vaccines and rare clots

These are not typical blood clots – they’re weird in two ways

Most Read