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

Parking lots were nearly full in White Rock Sunday (April 18) afternoon. (Aaron Hinks photo)
White Rock driver cited for vehicle noise akin to that made by a plane

West Beach resident calls for increased enforcement as summer traffic ramps up

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson outlines the province’s three-year budget in Victoria, April 20, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C. deficit to grow by $19 billion for COVID-19 recovery spending

Pandemic-year deficit $5 billion lower than forecast

Chief Constable Norm Lipinski, Surrey Police Service. (Submitted photo)
Surrey Police Service to begin public consultation late June, early July

Community input, chief constable says, ‘will occur’

SAIL students Patrick Cioata and Nathan Yeung are among five Surrey students from the BC/Yukon Virtual Science Fair who were selected as finalists for the 2021 Canada-Wide Science Fair. (Photo: Surrey Schools)
Surrey, White Rock students win awards at virtual science fair

Nearly half of the winners were from SAIL

Surrey RCMP reunited three stolen puppies with their mom. (RCMP handout)
Puppies stolen from South Surrey home located, reunited with mom

Surrey RCMP said they found the stolen puppies on April 16

FILE – NDP Leader John Horgan, right, and local candidate Mike Farnworth greet one another with an elbow bump during a campaign stop in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday, September 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. won’t be using random individual road stops to enforce travel rules: Safety Minister

Minister Mike Farnworth says travel checks only being considered at major highway junctions, ferry ports

A man pauses at a coffin after carrying it during a memorial march to remember victims of overdose deaths in Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. announces historic half-billion-dollar funding for overdose crisis, mental health

Of it, $152 million will be used to address the opioid crisis and see the creation of 195 new substance use treatment beds

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

Children’s backpacks and shoes are seen at a CEFA (Core Education and Fine Arts) Early Learning daycare franchise, in Langley, B.C., on Tuesday May 29, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. budget to expand $10-a-day child care, but misses the mark on ‘truly universal’ system

$111 million will be used to fund 3,750 new $10-a-day spaces though 75 additional ChildCareBC universal prototype sites over the next three years.

John Wekking, Merritt Road Report - Facebook
 Coquihalla Road Report
Wildfire sparks off Coquihalla in Merritt

The wildfire is located near the Dollarama off of Highway 5

Ambulance paramedic in full protective gear works outside Lion’s Gate Hospital, March 23, 2020. Hospitals are seeing record numbers of COVID-19 patients more than a year into the pandemic. (The Canadian Press)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate declines, 849 cases Tuesday

Up to 456 people now in hospital, 148 in intensive care

Christy Clark, who was premier from 2011 to 2017, is the first of several present and past politicians to appear this month before the Cullen Commission, which is investigating the causes and impact of B.C.’s money-laundering problem over the past decade. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)
Christy Clark says she first learned of money-laundering spike in 2015

The former B.C. premier testified Tuesday she was concerned the problem was ‘apparently at an all-time high’

Most Read