Vieraugenprinzip

Vieraugenprinzip

“Two heads are better than one,” we say. What we do NOT say is that “four eyes are better than two”! The German Vieraugenprinzip expresses the requirement that two people sign off on a particular action or decision, not one person alone. It is often mistranslated literally as “four eyes principle”—even by professionals such as … Continue reading Vieraugenprinzip

Schadenfreude

Schadenfreude

Schadenfreude is regularly trotted out as a classic example of an “untranslatable” German word, but is it? I don’t believe schadenfreude is uniquely German and can think of many ways to express it in English without borrowing the German word: I might gloat over a bullying co-worker’s dismissal, for example, or behave less than charitably … Continue reading Schadenfreude

eingefleischter Vegetarier

eingefleischter Vegetarier

When I was discussing “untranslatable” German words and phrases with my students at MIIS Monterey, one of them suggested eingefleischter Vegetarier. That is indeed a tough one to reproduce! My best attempt is rabid vegetarian, since “rabid” alludes to the animalistic in the same way that “eingefleischt” does and introduces a similar (humorous) dissonance. Can … Continue reading eingefleischter Vegetarier