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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:

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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.


Cool German words - Frühlingsmüdigkeit

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Frühlingsmüdigkeit is spring tiredness. A chronic tiredness one experiences around March / April. There are two explanations

1. Vitamin D is depleted after the dark winter in March
2. Warm winds (Föhn) in April cause headaches, tiredness and lack of concentration

Here in Iceland there also is

3. A complete psychological inability of me to deal with snowstorms at a time of the year my inner clock tell me flowers should be blooming, leaves should be coming back and it should be warm enough to drink coffee outside in the sun.
Tomorrow is the official first day of summer and yesterday it was still snowing.

Fortunately, I had my first dose of vaccination last week and can hope to be travelling to Germany in the future. If I'm really lucky I make it there during strawberry season!


Cool German Words - Besserwisser

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Besserwisser (know - better) is one of those words the English language has adopted. If there was ever a need to have a word for people who think they know everything better, even than the experts and are not shy of loudly telling everyone, it is now. Iceland just shut down again. I do not have the energy to be a Besserwisser about it anymore, so I just go and edit my volcano pictures.


Cool German Words - Unwort

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In German it is possible to easily make up new words, thanks to our affinity for compound words. Every year new words are created this way, expressing the public consciousness. Since 1971 the Society of the German Language has chosen a word of the year, celebrating our linguistic creativity. But if you can create new words to express developments in society, you can also express it's ugly side. Entering the Unwort (anti-word or un-word). Since 1991 a committee of linguist chose the Unwort des Jahres. Going over the list of these words can make you lose faith in humanity. There is

  • Wohlstandsmüll (prosperity waste) - Deprecatory term coined by Helmut Maucher (then CEO of Nestlé) during an interview, referring to people who are either presumed unable or reluctant to find employment, who in his opinion exist because of the highly developed welfare and social support systems in Germany.

  • betriebsratsverseucht (contaminated by works councils) - This offensive neologism (reportedly used internally by the Bauhaus management) describes a business with a strong works council, which takes care of the interests of the employees and thus presses for concessions on the employer's side.

  • Döner-Morde (döner murders) - A term used by police investigators to describe a series of murders of mostly Turkish shop and restaurant owners between 2000 and 2006, originally attributed to presumed links of the victims to organized crime groups. In 2011, it was revealed that, in fact, all of these murders were racial hate crimes committed by members of a previously unknown terrorist group called National Socialist Underground, which resulted in widespread criticism of the police for their initial determination.

  • Opfer-Abo (victimization subscription) - The term was coined by Jörg Kachelmann in the wake of a trial against him on sexual assault charges, in order to promote his perception that women had the tendency to repeatedly make false claims of crimes such as rape, to further their interests.

  • Sozialtourismus (welfare tourism) - The accusation that asylum seekers shop around for the country with the beast social security system to leech off of. Used to defend the use of the Dublin regulations to send asylum seekers back to the country of entry into Europe.


  • Happy Monday!


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