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I wanted to elaborate a bit about the topic "mutterseelenallein".

The linked article says that the word 'mutterseelenallein' origins from French and that it's not a literally translation, but just German words that kind of sound like the French saying 'moi tout seul'. We even have a word for this cases: die Verballhornung (a parody/modification to a saying so that it sounds alike, but literally means another thing).

For example German has a lot of proverbs or sayings that, literally translated, make no sense. But they origin from yiddish and are just German words that sound like the original saying. Some examples:

"Hals- und Beinbruch!" (broken neck and (broken) leg): Despite sounding like you wish harm on someone, it actually means 'good luck'.
"Guten Rutsch" (good slip): It's something we say to wish someone a happy new year. If I recall correctly the original yiddish saying means literally that.
"Es zieht wie Hechtsuppe." (It pulls like pike soup.): This means that it's too windy in a room because there are too many windows open. You can also just say 'Es zieht.' to complain about this circumstance. The fish soup is what originally meant 'like a storm', which kind of makes more sense.
"Pleitegeier" (broke vulture): is someone who has no money or owes money.
"Schmiere stehen" (to stand greese/goo): In a group of criminals there is often at least one person that doesn't directly take part in the criminal action, but which looks out for police/security. This activity is often called "Schmiere stehen".

What I think is funny about all that is that those sayings are not too weird compaired to some other German proverbs. This is partly because proverbs are always a bit weird and because Germans seem to have fun about describing things in a weird way. We like dry humor and parodizing sayings seems like a good way to do that.

Some examples of often parodized proverbs:
"Wer im Glashaus sitzt, sollte nicht mit Steinen werfen." (Someone that sits in a green house shouldn't throw stones.) - Means that a person calls people out for something that he or she also does. Because doing so would break the glass walls - it would backfire.
It's sometimes parodized alone like in "Wer im Glashaus sitzt, sollte im Keller scheißen." (Someone that sits in a green house should go to the toilet in the basement.). Or it sometimes is combined with other proverbs like "Wer anderen eine Grube gräbt fällt selbst hinein" (Someone that shovels a traphole for others falls himself in the trap) - yielding "Wer im Glashaus sitzt fällt selbst hinein" or "Wer anderen eine Grube gräbt sollte nicht mit Steinen werfen."

There is also this universal saying "Das kommt mir Spanisch vor." (It looks like spanish to me.) which exists in almost all languages - always with a different target language. I often observe people getting creative with choosing a different language than Spanish or combining it with either "Das ist ein böhmisches Dorf für mich." (That's a bohemian village to me.) or "Ich verstehe nur Bahnhof" (All I understand is train station.) - which mean roughly the same.

Oh, and there is the saying "Ich glaub mein Schwein pfeifft." (I believe my pig is whistling) which means to express that you're surprised and outraged. It works as a construct of 'I believe' followed with something that would be impossible or weird, like a whistling pig - or a moose kissing you ('... mich knutscht ein Elch.). I observed people getting creative with other animals. :)

A kind of new saying is "hätte, hätte, Fahrradkette" (would, could, bicycle chain). From what I know it origins from a German series called "Stromberg" and got popular because some German politicians used it. It means that you don't want to talk about things you could have done better because you're either fed up with the topic or because it would be tiresome.
If you want an explanation: Those discussions would often involve formulations like "Hättest du nicht XYZ machen können? Das hätte viel besser funktioniert." (Couldn't you have done XYZ? That would have worked much better.) - which is parroted with the "hätte, hätte". And the bicycle chain just rhymes with it. ¯\(ツ)

And also a lot of sayings are regional. Where I grew up I learned the sayings "die Laterne halten" (to hold the lantern, which means the same as "Schmiere stehen") and "Ich krieg' die Tür nicht zu." (I'm unable to close the door, meaning that I'm fed up with something because I either don't understand it or because I'm unable to finish the task because of little hindering things). But somehow no one understands them where I live now.

I personally like to parodize the saying "besser ein Spatz in der Hand als eine Taube auf dem Dach" (a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush), which takes weird forms like "eine Ziege auf dem Dach macht noch lange keinen Arzt". :x
Somehow the people still get what I'm trying to say there.

Well. I kind of got off the topic. I hope someone finds it interesting. If not, then sorry to waste your time. ^^"

June 13, 2018



ich finde das lustig...es gibt viele Dinge die man eben nicht wortwörtlich übersetzen kann, wobei es das wohl in jeder Sprache gibt.Und wenn es jemandem "auf den Sender geht" braucht er es ja nicht zu lesen :-D


I enjoyed your post very much. I wish Duolingo would add a few more sayings such as these.


Hello med rotorrobot ! Thanks for these choice of words and sentences- i was very inspired to continue and finding out other ones... It was interesting to read , what you have found out - your own explanations and translations including...! It was pretty interesting to read this between studying the skills of Duos new trees and collecting golden crowns, filling my hours with learning my languages, repeating and repeating more and more- I was looking for a rest , just finding your comment in this channel, three days ago- sorry, I am late.... Well, I also like playing with words and funny texts, when "it is raining cats and dogs!" Whow, what imagination on my mind! parodizing proverbs and sentences like: " the toilet in the basement!" Ha ha... I like collecting such proverbs and words and I'll keep on looking for something new - many thanks and keep on looking too!

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