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

Tala MacDonald, a 17-year-old student at Mount Sentinel Secondary who is also a volunteer firefighter, has won the $100,000 Loran Scholarship. Photo: Submitted
West Kootenay student wins $100K scholarship

Tala MacDonald is one of 30 Canadians to receive the Loran Scholarship

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
110 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Provincial health officers announced 1,005 new cases throughout B.C.

Kristian Camero and Jessica Wood, seen here, co-own The Black Cauldron with Stephen Barton. The new Nelson restaurant opened earlier this month while indoor dining is restricted by the province. Photo: Tyler Harper
A restaurant opens in Nelson, and no one is allowed inside

The Black Cauldron opened while indoor dining is restricted in B.C.

These two city-owned houses on Railway Avenue in the Railtown district will be sold. Photo: Bill Metcalfe
City of Nelson will sell two derelict houses in Railtown

Purchasers will be responsible for demolition and slope stability issues

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

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

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday December 8, 2020 in Ottawa. The stage is set for arguably the most important federal budget in recent memory, as the Liberal government prepares to unveil its plan for Canada’s post-pandemic recovery even as a third wave of COVID-19 rages across the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Election reticence expected to temper political battle over federal budget

Opposition parties have laid out their own demands in the weeks leading up to the budget

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to open up COVID vaccine registration to all B.C. residents 18+ in April

Registration does not equate to being able to book an appointment

(Black Press file photo).
UPDATED: Multiple stabbings at Vancouver Island bush party

Three youths hospitalized after an assault in Comox

Selina Robinson is shown in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday November 17, 2017. British Columbia’s finance minister says her professional training as a family therapist helped her develop the New Democrat government’s first budget during the COVID-19 pandemic, which she will table Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. finance minister to table historic pandemic-challenged deficit budget

Budget aims to take care of people during pandemic while preparing for post-COVID-19 recovery, Robinson said

Each spring, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale is held in Penticton. This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival will not be held. However, beer is still available. How much do you know about this beverage? (pxfuel.com)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about beer?

Put your knowledge to the test with this short quiz

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. (Malin Jordan)
Power struggle: New governance model proposed for B.C. high school sports

Most commissions are against the new model, but B.C. School Sports (BCSS) and its board is in favour

Most Read