I’ve been away for a week and not posted for a month, so while I gear myself up for more, here are a few things:

1. Der Berg kreißt und gebiert eine Maus: a translator had to render this in English and of course the equivalent The mountain has laboured and brought forth a mouse (from Horace: Parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus) is even less used in English than the former in German. It depends on the context whether you might use it.
One suggestion was to look at this discussion at English Language & Usage Stack Exchange (‘a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts’). The discussion is interesting. The questioner thinks the expression is Japanese. ‘Without much to show for it’ might work; I have my doubts about ‘I tried to shit but only farted’.

2. It’s probably just as well that I haven’t got time to read this: Pseudo-English: Studies on False Anglicisms in Europe, edited by Cristiano Furiassi, edited by Henrik Gottlieb

3. It was the Naked Bike Ride on Saturday, though I didn’t make it with my camers. On this occasion a tweet by Matthew Scott:

Naked tourists pissing on sacred site, causing earthquake: 3 days jail.

Harmless eccentric breaching ASBO: 30 mths jail.


Scott wrote an article in the Telegraph: Naked rambler: why have we spent £300,000 imprisoning this harmless eccentric?

An Asbo was deliberately imposed so that if Gough breached it, he could be imprisoned:

It can be an offence to cause a public nuisance and to “harm the morals of the public or their comfort, or obstruct the public in the enjoyment of their rights”. But as an earlier and more successful nudist, Vincent Bethell, showed in 2001, juries are reluctant to find that merely being naked in the street does anything of the sort.

Mr Gough could have been charged with the same offence but, as Hampshire prosecutors no doubt realised, that would have required them to persuade a jury that his nakedness had “harmed the morals of the public.” Since there was no evidence that it had done so – although some people objected to the sight of him wandering around the streets of Eastleigh – a jury would have been likely to acquit. They could have achieved and did secure a few convictions in the Magistrates’ Courts for minor public order offences, but these were too trivial in themselves to put him behind bars.

4. Gamsbart

This was a word that Obama’s interpreter had to contend with off the cuff last week.

Wikipedia says:

The Gamsbart (German pronunciation [‘gamsbɑːʁt], literally chamois beard, plural Gamsbärte) is a tuft of hair traditionally worn as a decoration on trachten-hats in the alpine regions of Austria and Bavaria.

Originally worn as a hunting trophy and made exclusively from hair from the chamois’ lower neck, Gamsbärte are today manufactured on a large scale from various animals’ hair and are commonly sold by specialized dealers and also at souvenir shops.

The Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported on 7 June (article no longer online):

Die wirkliche Herausforderung steht der deutschen Übersetzerin, die Obama begleitet, aber noch bevor. Merkel führt ihn zu einigen Männern, auf deren Hüten eine Art Staubwedel in die Luft steht. Es gibt kein englisches Wort für Gamsbart, aber die Übersetzerin findet offenkundig eine brauchbare Umschreibung und deutet dazu auf ihren Rücken, was an der Stelle sein dürfte, wo sie erklärt, dass die Haare für den Bart vom Rücken der Gams stammen. Obama guckt interessiert und schließlich zufrieden, auch wenn man nicht sicher sein kann, wie er Michelle in Washington erklären wird, dass es in Deutschland Tiere gibt, denen ein Bart auf dem Rücken wächst.

Well, all she had to know was what it is, and she must have realized she was going to be faced with a raft of Bavariana.

(Thanks to Übersetzer-Blog)

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