Friday, December 9, 2011

Grief Bacon

I first saw this a few months ago, and it's definitely worth it: 15 words we should have. But yeah. Kummerspeck, or grief bacon. It's brilliant. It's just an inherently hilarious term. Thing is, that's not quite how it translates in German, even literally. Firstly, 'Kummer' isn't exactly 'grief' - more sort of troubles, or cares, or chronic woes. It's pretty sad, but it's not quite grief - definitely the verb 'k├╝mmern' is far more like 'care' or 'take care of' than it is to 'grieve'. Secondly 'Speck', although it's literally bacon, there is a figurative use of it to mean fat, or flab, or something superfluous, and this figurative use is just as common. The titter you get from 'bacon' doesn't quite work for German. Germans see their overhanging belly and think 'bacon' as a matter of habit. And 'Kummer' doesn't have such melodramatic overtones that sound funny next to 'bacon'.

A more accurate literal translation would be trouble-flab, but obviously that's not funny. There's no real way to get this right. So here it's important to remember why we're reading about bacon in the first place. It's funny. It also fits in both the word and it's root. Which is an advantage too, because it's funnier than explaining it. What the writer has probably done is gone on LEO and picked out the funniest translation. "Grief Bacon" has become something of a meme, but not because it's a clever bit of observational humour in German, mainly because it's a really funny translation and one really apt for its function.