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Cool German Words - Korinthenkacker

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I love going through the posts in the German Reddit group. There is always one post with an example of extreme Germaness, usually some petty fight between neighbours about the correct way to recycle, slightly crooked doormats or "unkempt" looking gardens. There is a reason we do not only have the word Spießer, but also define several subspecies. There is a level of severity to consider. Spießer can be as neutral or sever as the speaker chooses. A Erbsenzähler is more of a nuisance than actively antagonistic, they just really like going over every little detail. But if someone is pedantic about the smallest rules and regulation out of sheer pettiness and in an active attempt to make you miserable a stronger word is needed. This is where the Korinthenkacker comes in. It translates to "someone who shits small raisins". The word itself is pedantic, it is not just someone who shits raisins, it is someone who shits "Korinthen" a particular kind of small raisins. The Wikipedia article lists several local variations, because of course we have those, too. Our dutch neighbours also use the word (Krentenkakker), but there it is a stingy person, like Erbsenzähler used to be in German. It is one of the many examples where Dutch people use words wrong, which at some point should be it's own series of blog posts.

Cool German Words - Erbsenzähler

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I'm probably thinking of the word because I made lentils the other day. A Erbsenzähler (pea counter) is an overly pedantic person. It is a subspecies of the Spießer. In the good old days it was also used for a stingy person, but these days it refers to people who end up working for government institutions, so that they can deny your applications because of the smallest technicalities.

Cool German words - Spießer

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For the next few fun words, I first have to explain the word Spießer(n). It is a word maybe the rest of the world can do without, but no other is so entwined with the German condition. Ein Spießer is a narrow minded, petty person, obsessed with rules and "good social standing". In English it gets tranlated as bourgois and square, but this does not come close to the meaning. Just like every human being has a little Schweinehund inside, in every German lives a little Spießer. When Germany decided to take in more refugees in 2015 a lot of people worried if they will manage to recycle correctly. Peak Spießer.

Cool German Words - Kraftakt

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Kraftakt is a feat or something that required great effort to do. Literally it translates as an act of strength. My Kraftakt last year was getting our branch of the IWW back on track. In the next post I will describe everything we did last year, which included direct action, becoming a youtube star creating super pretty pamphlets and many many meetings and spreadsheets.

Cool German words - Zugzwang

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Zugzwang (move compulsion) is a chess term. It is the tactic of taking advantage of the fact that you cannot skip your turn in chess, you are forced to move into a bad position, leading to your defeat. It usually occurs in endgames, which I'm terrible in. Here is the most famous example:

Black is forced to move from the promotion square, to the white square on 7th row, allowing the white king to move to 7th row and protect to the promotion square and then go on to promote the pawn and win.

It was promoted from a technical chess term to a term used in the real world. Zugzwang might mean if you force someone to act, when it is in their best interest not to act.

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