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July 27, 2006

Majikthise quoted in Der Spiegel

This is a nice surprise: My comments about Bush groping Chancellor Merkel got quoted in the German magazine Der Spiegel.

I don't know what they said, but they spelled my name right!


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It’s about time the Germans paid attention to you. Now if you could only get the White House to do the same. Maybe a Feingold White House will.

The original is here, with an English version here. And it goes a little something like this:

"Unser Präsident, der Drive-by-Belästiger", empört sich Bloggerin Lindsay Beyerstein. "Wie jeder geübte Grabscher" habe Bush einfach weggesehen, als die Kanzlerin vor seiner Berührung zurückgeschreckt sei. Er habe sie einfach sitzen lassen, "als sei das alles ihr Problem". Blogger Greg Tinti fasst die Episode schlicht unter der Überschrift "Grabsch-Gate" zusammen.

"Our president, the drive-by-harasser," wrote outraged blogger Lindsay Beyerstein. "Like any practiced groper, Bush stares right past Merkel as she recoils from his touch," Beyerstein wrote in her blog. She also complained that by walking on after Merkel raised her arms, he was acting is if the episode had been "her problem." Blogger Greg Tinti summarized the event in an entry under the header "Gropergate."

Is your right sidebar supposed to be on top of the blog itself, btw? It makes for somewhat confusing reading.

And that confusion resulted in uess beating me to the punch, sorry about that little missive from the Department of Redundancy Department.

"Bloggerin." Bloggerista? Blogher? Don't you love gendered language? Though I have to admit, as someone who's called herself an editrix for a decade or so, I like the sound of "Bloggerin." (Accent on the long-ee "i" in the last syllable, I assume.)

Ron: I think it's a short "i", like the English word "in".

Nope, the "-in" in Bloggerin is pronounced as it's pronounced in English "gin".

Oh, and yo, George, learn the phrase “pardon me please”: “Entschuldigen sie mir bitte”. Also, though you may think it’s funny when dogs do it, others won’t necessarily think it’s funny when you try to dry hump the girls.

Gendered language - very interesting. I wasn't aware of the fact that it's not common practice in the U.S. to use female terms. "Kanzler" (chancelor) is for a man, "Kanzlerin" for a woman.

I liked "blitzmassage" better than "surprise neck grab." Much more colorful.

Well, "Majikthise" is from the German, after all.

... And Axel - it used to be common practice in the States to use gendered language - Actress, Waitress, etc. - but has become less so as political correctness has encouraged people to use the masculine or neutered/ambiguous term. I am of mixed mind about this. On the one hand it represents a loss of information and for lack of a better word, "quaintness", on the other it is fairer and less potentially prejudicial.


I prefer actor/waiter regardless of gender. It's more professional.

I didn't mind the sexual connotation in language so much, however the female sex was feeling under represented in the 3rd person most of the time in such cases as the Bible. Can't say I blame them.

@Bruce: Thanks for your comment. It was just a sudden inspiration - why isn't there something like "chancellor-in" or "president-in"? In Europe, we always hear bizarre stories about PC in the States like denoting a christmas tree "holiday tree" (even in the former communist East Germany a christmas tree was officially called a christmas tree -> "Weihnachtsbaum"). But when it comes to ordinary new occupational titles for women there seems to be no great demand for a gendered language.

To be brutally honest: I think nothing of PC. Maybe there is a simple pragmatic reason for this. In English you have only "the" as definite article but in German you're always forced to choose between "der", "die" or "das". So "...the chancellor, she" or "...the chancellor, he" works fine but "der Kanzler, sie" isn't grammatically correct. Only "...der Kanzler, er" makes sense and talking about "der weibliche Kanzler" (the female chancellor) sounds very strange.

Axel, it would be really be hard to make German non-gendered since you would have to change practically the whole language,
since many of the endings and the way differnt articles are formed derive completly from the gender of the word. Could just using the neuter das for everything work? Not that I'm really interested in changing the German language right now.

Well the whole inspiration for the holiday tree, is well, because we are multi culutral and try to support it. It may not make sense, but it's like giving a Christian prayer to a bunch of Hindi's. Does it even represent anything to them? Not really. The problem with our country is we aren't very supportive of other religions other than Christianity, and when we do try it's something rediculous like renaming a Christmas tree a holiday tree. Germany is mostly a catholic/protestant country, so it's foundation in Christianity and using a Christmas tree is pretty set.

Yes, it is more professional, and it so it should be. Political correctness has only a little to do with it.

However, to describe someone as an actress has a better "ring" to it than "actor" - if the person being described is female, of course. Same with Waiter/waitress. Call me old-fashioned...

No, new titles are all neutral - also as it should be.

If you were the quibbling type, you'd might claim that Weihnachtsbaum arguably isn't any more specific than holiday tree, as

Weihnacht, from vb. weihen and subst. Nacht = hallowed night = holy night
holiday, from o.E. haligdæg = holy day

It may be bullshit, but it's arguable bullshit.

> Like any practiced groper,

That seems to imply that there is a direct translation of "groper" from English to German. Would that be "Grabscher", and does it have the same connotation in German as in US English? Must be a cross-cultural problem...


Count, there's also just a hint of acknowledging that "Christmas" trees are of "pagan" origin, along with the general spirit of inclusiveness around that "holiday" tree. (All those bunny ears are intentional.) I just call it a Yule Tree and have done with the mess. Ours is a live redwood in a pot; it lives in the backyard the rest of the year. I think that does a nice biological-region number on the European custom, and besides the needles aren't as poky as a pine's. "PC" isn't just about being overly polite; sometimes we who practice it are having a minor joke at somevaguebody's expense.

When I hear German "-in" femmy suffixes, they sound more long-e than short-i to me. Not quite as in Hallowe'en but not quite as in sit-in either. Maybe I'm listening to the wrong people. As for the logic of it all, ISTR Mark Twain wrote something funny about gendered German but I can't recall what or where. He got 'round the problem of rendering it in English by using a folksy construction: "the bell, he*..." or "the air*, she..." (*don't remember their actual gender, sorry) Wound it up with a bit about "das Mådchen" of course.

I suppose "actress" and "waitress" are going the way of "poetess" and maybe even "Jewess" and "Negress." (You want a snarl of connotations, those last are perfect.) I still like the sound of "Bloggerin." The sound.

>"der weibliche Kanzler"

Es klingt wie ein Bertolt Brecht-oper. :)

Ron, I guess it's "The Awful German Language". Brilliant!

Ron, when I took German last semester, the lecturer would always pronounce the -in suffix with a short i: a female teacher is /%le:r@"rIn/.

When I took German it sounded like a -Reen, with a gutteral slur in the back of your throat trying to say a long i. That's the closest I can come to describing the sound. It's definetly a German thing.

"The Awful German Language" is in the appendix to Twain's "A Tramp Abroad" You don't see the book often as it isn't Huckleberry Finn level literature. Twain wrote the book more to pay the bills than to round out his oeuvre with another monumental classic. Still, it’s way fun reading, the whole thing is Twain just riffing. E. g. “To carve fowls in the German fashion: Use a club, and avoid the joints”.
It’s also a picture of Germany just before the 20th Century shit hit the fan, which is interesting and sad.

For a correct pronunciation just listen to

-> die Freundin [the (female) friend]

But listen also to the German pronunciation of "Berlin"! Maybe this is the source of confusion.

-> "Willkommen in Berlin." at the end.

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