Word Nerd

Word Nerd Wednesday

I love words. I guess you could say I’m a logophile. I’ll be listing some of my favorites on this page and talking about why I love them…pretty nerdy stuff. I love languages and the sounds and feels of different ones; each has its own fascinating flavors and colors to savor. One of my ‘should haves’ is that I should have studied languages because I love them and know I have a knack for them, but I think the ‘use it or lose it’ rule kept me from pursuing them as a focus in any serious way. I know a little French, a little Spanish, and a little Hawai’ian. I loved ‘Latin for Vocabulary’ in middle school and think it ended up being the most useful class I had. I like hearing other languages in movies or in public and guessing what they might be. One of my goals for this year is to take a step toward learning German, so I downloaded the Rosetta Stone app. I went through the free half-hour’s worth of lessons and loved it, so it passed the joy check. Why German? I think it boils down to my genetic heritage–my maiden name is Mann–and the fact that speaking German sounds a bit mean and speaking it for me could mean that people might take this somewhat soft-spoken introvert a little more seriously.

Then I saw a friend-of-a-friend do a talk in Philly–lexicographer Kory Stamper, author of Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries. Loved it, she is brilliant! She answered a few audience questions after, and someone asked if there were any words in other languages whose translations didn’t have exact equivalents in English, or something to that effect. One of her answers included a German word, the closest thing to our phrase ‘tramp stamp.’ Arschgeweih = ‘ass antlers.’ I knew then and there that I had to learn German. I needed to know all of the other crazy compound words that were out there and would be fun to work into everyday sentences, like so many angry, rough consonants actually meaning hilarious and interesting things. So my first Word Nerd entry is…

Arschgeweih

Click through for Wiktionary’s definition, etymology, and pronunciation. Then try to throw it into conversation this weekend.

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