Saturday, January 8, 2011

German Wimps

One thing in particular that I envy the Germans for is, instead of sitting round wondering if the collective noun for baboons is a troop or a flange, they collect and invent words for a less-than-manly man. Many of these are very, very wonderful.

The most familiar sentiments you'll see with things like
  • Turnbeutelvergesser - gym-kit-forgetter
  • Stofftiersüßfinder - cuddly-toy-cute-finder
  • Fohnbenutzer - hairdryer user
Digs at sensitive men, boys who aren't good at sports and metrosexuals. Never gets old, no matter how many of your school years you prayed it would. But look how neat the German tendency to for big long words is when it comes to making up insults.

Then there's a few more ones, ones where you start to think German conceptions of masculinity might be a little stricter than ours.
  • Handschuhschneeballwerfer - gloved snowball-thrower
  • Handbuchleser - manual reader
  • Horror-Szenen-Wegschauer - horror-scene-looker-awayer
  • Schattenparker - shade parker
  • Blasenteetrinker - blowing tea-drinker
These all seemed a bit odd to me - as they were things I thought most people did. Even a rugged slice of man-hunk like me blows on his tea if he's in a hurry or something. But the weirdest ones were
  • Warmduscher - warm-showerer
  • Süßfrühstücker - sweet-breakfast-eater
  • Sitzpinkler - sit-down-pee-er

'Sitzpinkler' especially confused me, as I'd heard just as often that it's considered massively anti-social for a man to urinate standing except at a urinal. Asking Germans what they had for breakfast (which I did quite a lot, for serious teaching-related reasons), half the time the blokes would say something involving Nutella. This made no sense to me, knowing as I did the wimpishness associated. And then one student joked, as if the idea of anyone else doing it was utterly ludicrous, about a "dirty man" peeing standing up.

Suddenly the irony clicked. Whereas with a joke like this, I would expect most Anglophones to play it fairly straight, and just make fun of the girly things that puny, sissyish men do, the Germans go one better. They add a layer of hypocrisy. They mock you for your wimpishness by accusing you of something you can safely assume they do themselves. This is by no means though, the silliest it gets:
  • Unterhosenwechsler - underpants-changer
  • Mitdemwindpisser - with-the-wind pisser
  • Partnerbefriediger - partner-pleasurer
  • Rechtsfahrer - right-hand-side-of-the-road driver (they're meant to do that there)
plus best of all
  • Fallschirmbenutzer - parachute user
For comic effect, German men project themselves as unrealistically, surreally manly while mocking each other for perceived effeminacy. The act of belittling someone's masculinity is used to reaffirm your own - Germans have become sardonically aware of this to the point where mocking it has become a popular pastime and an established part of the language. What this weird but hilarious aspect of the German language seems to say about German men's relationship to their own masculinity is that they have a strong idea of what they need to do, they will actually do a lot of it, but they also find the whole episode ever so slightly daft. For all the sarcasm English prides itself on and the stereotypes of German humour, they've definitely got us beat with this one.

1 comment:

  1. I'd like to make an official complaint. Love reading, but must it be dark green on black? Can't make a friggin' word out without highlighting it all. Hrmph.

    My favorite is the Swabian "Hecklesbeerebronzer", he who pees on berries on bushes. Very satisfyingly nasty put-down.

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