Changeling/Wechselbalg

Trevor at kaleboel reports on a Guardian article by Steven Wells on why the USA owes its existence to cricket.

bq. FLASHBACK: Frederick, Prince of Wales, eldest son of George II, was, by all accounts, a bit of an arse. His mum called him a beast and a monster. And his dad seriously reckoned he was “wechselbalg” – a werewolf. And then, in 1749, Frederick got smacked in the head by a cricket ball. Two years later he died of an infected cyst in his head, leaving the way clear for Fred’s slightly mad son to become George III.

But a Wechselbalg is not a werewolf – that’s a Werwolf (as in the famous Morgenstern poem where the Werwolf wants to be declined – wer, wen, wes, wem – or as the Germans say, confounding my language-learning attempts, wer, wes, wem, wen). Wechselbalg is changeling. According to Hermann Paul’s Deutsches Wörterbuch – a dictionary well worth having: it doesn’t deal with the whole of the German vocabulary, but what it does deal with, it does thoroughly and in detail, with etymology and history – amazon.de link: Deutsches Wörterbuch
‘nach dem Volksglauben ein von Hexen stammendes untergeschobenes Kind, daher als Schimpfwort für ein mißratenes Kind gebraucht. Andere Bezeichnung Kielkropf’. (This is not the only German reference in the Guardian article).

6 thoughts on “Changeling/Wechselbalg

  1. Very interesting – ah, some erudition – one can’t have too much of that, as they say. I see they say ‘foundling’ in Wikipedia, and that this term was directed to Fred (kronprinsfred?) when he turned up at a relatively advanced age, unfamiliar to his parents.

  2. Why shouldn’t we call him our crown prince as well? The term helps cover up that awkward period between when someone becomes heir to the throne and when s/he is made Prince of Wales.

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