ratcreature: RatCreature is thinking: hmm...? (hmm...?)
I'm wondering what the English equivalent for the German "Aktionismus" is.

In German this is a usually pejorative term to describe activities somebody (often people in a position of power but accountable to the public, more rarely subordinates under pressure from above) undertakes to be visibly seen as "doing something" to address a problem, but the actions are not well thought out, unlikely to really solve or improve the situation, but are (at least from the perspective of the speaker making the charge of something being "Aktionismus") done wholly or partly to provide cover against the accusation of inactivity or indifference.

Like when you hastily implement "security theater" measures against a real security threat, because you can't think of any actual solution to improve security for real, but not doing anything and admitting to having no solution would be politically very costly. Opponents then might accuse you of "Aktionismus".

So "Aktionismus" is a general term for hasty, thoughtless responses of this type, used by opponents of the actions. It is often coupled with "blind" as in "blinder Aktionismus" to emphasize the lack of plan or vision to arrive at a real solution.

It is similar to the accusation that something is merely a "symbolic action" but that implies more a deliberate gesture lacking concrete results, whereas "Aktionismus" is more of a harmful flailing around.

"Aktionismus" has also some sort of specialized meaning for some performance art movement from Vienna, and apparently the word "actionism" exists in English in the translation for that Austrian art, but it doesn't seem to be used in the colloquial sense. But clearly this is a common phenomenon (and accusation) in politics, so there ought to be an English term.
ratcreature: RatCreature blathers. (talk)
[personal profile] lilacsigil prompted: "Fandom and language for you: what fandoms did you experience dubbed into German, are you in any German-language fandoms, how does English-speaking fandom feel to you, things like that."

Well, as far as dubbed tv shows go, pretty much all my fandoms before I had fast internet I first watched in German. So all the series I felt fannish about before finding online fandom, and the things I watched in the late 90s when I first found online fandom too. Some of those I have never actually bothered to rewatch in the original (I don't rewatch things very often in general), like most of original Star Trek episodes I only watched on tv here, same for TNG. But for example the X-Files I first watched haphazardly in German, but later on I got the episodes in the original and rewatched.

With Buffy the video tapes came out with not too much delay (about a season iirc), so that was the same as watching them here, so I bought those from the UK soon. With The Sentinel I first watched dubbed German episodes, but after I found the fandom I managed to get tape copies from another fan, and the later third and fourth season I only watched in the original.

The dubbing for Sentinel made some odd choices, in particular that Jim and Blair stuck with "Sie", presumably because they called each other Ellison and Sandburg in the original, but who would address a close work colleague who is also a roommate with the formal you? But it is a tricky issue, because obviously if they spoke German, they would start out with "Sie" and then at some point a "Du" would need to be offered, which is a significant marker for a relationship. And obviously that doesn't happen on screen, so they would have had to switch suddenly and that would also be odd.

With Due South I watched the RayV seasons in German first, but managed to get the RayK seasons through tape trade.

Tolkien I first read translated, but then later reread in English. Actually, iirc, LOTR was the first English book I read in English outside of English class assignments (which at that point were still mostly short stories). It was a tad ambitious as a choice for someone who at the time was not fluent. I think I was fourteen or fifteen or so, so I had only four or five years of English classes, because when I went to school they didn't yet start foreign languages in elementary school, but only in fifth grade. So that was quite slow going, even as I knew what was happening. Eventually I had the German edition open concurrently as I worked my way through LOTR in English the first time.

It turned out though that deciphering Tolkien was still a better choice for first reading material than reading French comics in the original, which I couldn't really manage after four years of French later on (even before I forgot most of it again). Being able to read French comics was my major aspirational motivation to drop Latin eventually (which my parents had wanted me to take as second language) and pick up French instead, because so many great comics aren't translated. But with so little text as context for guessing words you don't know, and the text not explaining the images but conveying separate things, and being spoken language with jokes and slang, comics are quite far from easy literature.

Speaking of comics, with Carl Barks' Donald Duck comics the classic German translation by Erika Fuchs is really good and sometimes funnier than the original. I have an English language edition of Carl Barks' complete works, but I really like the German translation as much, and many German fans prefer it. Because Erika Fuchs translated so many Disney comics with inventive language she had quite an impact on contemporary German language use, btw.

Actually Donaldism is the closest I come to having a German-language fandom, with German fanzines I have and such. And general comic fandom too to some extent, though that is more a multi-lingual thing. And mostly offline fandom engagement.

I don't watch a lot of German tv. These days I mostly watch tv shows on the computer, and I'm not in any online German fandom. Generally my online fandom engagement happens in English.

I find it even somewhat awkward to talk about fanfic fandom in German, because so many of the terms are English, so that when you talk with another German fan about something, you end up talking Denglisch with every second word (at best, sometimes seven out of ten) or so being a direct loan. Which okay, on the one hand, I won't start saying Schmerz/Trösten or whatever it would be instead of h/c, but otoh at some point it just gets ridiculous.

If you take a fairly normal fannish sentence you might to say to someone while talking about fanfic, like "XY wrote a great gen h/c ficlet for a Mundane AU prompt on the kink meme." you end up with very few German words, and maybe one of them a noun. I mean, even those that have translations are difficult, like say "prompt": Would I pick "Stichwort" or "Aufforderung" for "prompt" in a kink meme? Both sound odd. Maybe just stick with prompt, even though only the adjective meaning is the same in German (I don't think prompt as noun got loaned yet). And sure, you can translate "mundane" as "alltäglich" but "Mundane AUs" are a thing, saying "alltägliche alternative Universen" might as well mean "common AUs". Similarly you could say Geschichtenschnipsel for ficlet, or half-translate it as Fic-Schnipsel (though honestly, saying "fic" in German is, well, it sounds like you say fuck only in German that word is more obscene, because normal German swearwords all are more fecal-based than sexual, as I explained at length in my intro to that topic), but you'd probably end up saying sentences like "XY hat ein tolles gen ficlet für einen Mundane AU prompt im kink meme geschrieben." Awkward.

On the flip side, when fandom first shifted to the blogging/journaling format from mailing list, I hestitated starting one, because doing anything journal like in a foreign language felt weird to me, because I had kept paper diaries before, and those had obviously always been in German. And while thinking about fandom stuff in English was quite natural by then (after years of practicing with maililng list posts), for most other things it was not. The very first post in my blog in 2002 (reposted on DW here) which I started before getting an LJ was about that issue, and the odd feeling. Obviously more generalized nattering in English has started to feel more natural with years of practice.

Though in a way it is still weird, because I've gotten out of the habit of keeping a paper diary, and I post more often about non-fandom stuff, but still in English, so by now it feels more natural to narrate my own life in a foreign language. But that is not really fandom-related.

Otherwise English-speaking fandom doesn't feel like anything particular to me, that I could trace to the language. Sure, you can ponder the pervasiveness of English on the internet and the relative dominance of English language pop culture, and what it means for language diversity and power in international fandom, but in the end having a lingua franca is a practical thing, even if it is not a neutral thing. I like German, and I don't think English sounds cooler or some nonsense, but I'm pragmatic about reaching fannish audiences, English is more common than German, and I speak it well enough to make communicating in it not a hardship. So English it is.
ratcreature: RatCreature is thinking: hmm...? (hmm...?)
With the basic stitches, what is "rechts verschränkt" called in English? I know that "rechts" is "knit" and "links" is "purl" in knitting terminology, but how do you name that other difference, i.e. whether you sort of twist the stitch -- a "rechts verschränkt" stitch is one where (assuming right handed knitting) you have the yarn behind the needles and insert the right needle from the right into the stitch when you knit the next, whereas a plain "rechts" is when you insert the needle from the left. "Links verschränkt" meanwhile means that the yarn is in front of the needles and you insert the right needle from the right and behind the loop of yarn on the left needle, whereas plain "links" has you insert the needle from the right too but just through the loop (without that twist). I tried looking up the symbol in English language knitting charts, but it seems the knitting symbols aren't normed internationally. In German patterns usually "rechts" is a black square whereas "rechts verschränkt" is a black diamond shape.
ratcreature: RatCreature blathers. (talk)
Since a few people seemed interested, and I already wrote some of it in previous comments to other entries, I thought I'd post a guide to swearing and insults in German after all. However, please keep in mind that for fiction this can't replace language betas, and personally I think that in many cases actually the better choice is not to litter your story with foreign language fragments to begin with. It also ended up being somewhat rambly.

Still you might want to swear in German for one reason or another... )
ratcreature: headdesk (headdesk)
I've already ranted several times here how computer translation is not your friend if you want to litter your English story with German words (even disregarding the characterization issues or the likelihood of random language switches occurring in the first place). That includes swear words, because believe it or not, swearing works differently in different languages. For example you can't just translate "fuck" and use it like in English for a swear word. Argh.

Well, the story wasn't very good otherwise either, so I don't regret the back button use, but seriously. And now I have the urge to write an introduction to swearing in German to explain, but that probably would only encourage people to avoid using betas, and make things even worse.
ratcreature: RL? What RL? RatCreature is a net addict.  (what rl?)
Verschlimmbesserung, i.e. a portmanteau of Verbesserung (improvement) and Verschlimmerung (deterioration/worsening), to describe intended improvements or upgrades that end up making everything worse. Also used as a verb ("verschlimmbessern"), cousin to the equally useful "kaputtreparieren" (repair/tinker with a thing to the point that it becomes broken). Not entirely unrelated to this language observation, I'm still trying to decide whether I should opt to display everything on LJ in my style (which I find confusing, because I'm used to comms and journals all having their layout), or deal with the new comment pages on comms that have not disabled them, which unfortunately includes a number of fest comms I'd been browsing.
ratcreature: RatCreature is thinking: hmm...? (hmm...?)
I'm looking for the English word for "Kaffeeklappe", i.e. an establishment where workers can buy cheap meals (and as the name implies coffee) but which is not serving alcohol like pubs are. Traditionally they were located in or near the industrial areas, like in the harbor. These first opened in the 19th century as part of the anti-alcoholism movement. The official German term was "Volkskaffeehalle" (public coffee hall?) but the informal term is much more common. It comes from the food being served from the kitchen into the dining area through a serving hatch. They are not very common anymore, having been replaced by various fast food options, I guess. Is there an English equivalent? I thought maybe "greasy spoon" might fit, except that the dictionary tells me that term dates only to the 1920s, and I'm looking for the 19th century thing.
ratcreature: RatCreature is nitpicking. (nitpicking)
I don't understand how people who try to insert German endearments into their Charles/Erik fanfic end up with female endings. I get that English is deficient when it comes to the concept of grammatical gender, but the auto-translate bots tend to default to male (e.g. if you enter "my Beloved" into Google translate it gives you "mein Geliebter" as first choice not "meine Geliebte" though it gives you neuter if you don't capitalize, presumably because it assumes some noun ought to follow and is indecisive or something), and plenty of endearments authors could pick are the same for both genders anyway (e.g. "mein Schatz"). So how do authors arrive at the female endings? An additional question is of course whether Erik would choose German of all things as his love language to begin with.
ratcreature: Eeew! (eeew)
Okay, sometimes words are incredibly gross. You know how in English when talking about penises there's the terms "grower" vs. "shower" to describe flaccid and erect penis sizes and their relation, yes? And not generally discussing penises, their sizes and behavior much outside of fandom I didn't know whether there were German terms to describe that difference, so I googled.

And apparently the words (or at least one option) are "Blutpenis" (i.e. literally "bloodpenis") for "grower" and "Fleischpenis" (literally "flesh-/meatpenis") for "shower" both of which I find really kind of gross. I mean seriously--eeew. In general I don't have problems with most of the German terms for genitalia. But this? Yikes.

And obviously I had to share my moment of "Eeew! WTF?!"... ;)
ratcreature: RatCreature is dead by anvil. (dead)
You see, I was in the process to write someone an e-mail about a (non-fannish) website update, only to stumble when I had barely written the subject line. The sentence in my subject line was innocent enough, i.e. "I've now updated the website." only I was writing in German.

German has actually incorporated the English word "to update", especially in computer an technical contexts, and personally I tend to use "updaten" over "aktualisieren" in particular in spoken or informal language. Now comes the somewhat tricky part in my explanation (at least if you don't speak German): In German prefixes are separated from the root under certain circumstances when you conjugate a verb, and also the prefix that's part of the regular past participle, i.e. "ge-", goes between the original prefix and the root.

Obviously you have to conjugate foreign words as well if you want to use them in German. And when words have prefixes that adds complications, you can either treat the foreign word as one unit, as if there was no prefix, or you treat the foreign prefix like you would a German prefix, and actually both strategies exist, sometimes for the same word, though usually after a while usage settles. Obviously I just use what sound right to me -- unless I'm angsting about language in my blog, that is. Strange as it is, when I talk I tend to treat English prefixes as separable in the perfect, but don't separate the them in other tenses that would demand an inverse position of root and prefix. A typical example for a German word with such a prefix would be "aufschreiben" (to write down), which demands an inverse position in the present tense, i.e. "ich schreibe auf" (I write down") and where the perfect would be "ich habe aufgeschrieben" (I have written down). So when I use update as a German word I say "ich habe upgedatet" not "ich habe geupdatet" (treating "up-" like "auf-") but "ich update" and not "ich date up", and it works like that for me with a number of English words with prefixes that are used in German. Not being a purist worried about imported words, it sounds perfectly acceptable to me.

Thus when talking I'd usually say for the sentence above "Ich habe jetzt die Webseite upgedatet." however written it looks really weird, probably because I'm so used to reading English where naturally "to update" isn't mangled this way. Written "ich habe geupdatet" looks slightly better to me, probably because it preserves the integrity of the English word, however it's not what I talk like, hence the brain-breakage. In the end I've decided to write like spoken, even if it looks peculiar.

BTW, I've googled both alternatives, and it seems I'm not alone in my preferences, there are 116.000 hits for "upgedatet" versus 71.000 for "geupdatet", not decisive but the former seems definitely favored in usage.
ratcreature: ROTFL (rotfl)
So I'm reading Daredevil #66, and rather contrary to the mood of the issue I find myself giggling constantly. You see, it has flashback sequences to the 1940s, and there's some villains talking "German", unfortunately too frequently for me to just overlook the dialog, i.e. it's not just one isolated speech balloon, but goes on for a few pages. And it's just... I don't have words. *still in giggles*

I mean, in some cases I can figure out what the speech balloon was supposed to say by translating it word for word back into English, and it becomes clear which words were meant, even if the German translation of the English term that was chosen doesn't have the meaning of the English word that was meant in the context as all, as of course both German and English words all have multiple meanings and not all of them match 1:1. And it's not just with figurative vocabulary either, though those examples are the funniest (like in German you just don't call a crazy person "Fruchtkuchen" no matter that it's a correct translation for the English "fruitcake"). Not to mention that the sentence structure is frequently wrong. And yet in some cases I can't figure out at all what the speech balloon was supposed to say. As a whole it's just totally hilarious, and not at all conducive to a gritty crime sequence feeling.
ratcreature: argh (argh)
You know, writing/reading in English so much has some odd (and rather embarrassing) side-effects. Like in English in German there are some fixed expressions, some quite similar to their English counterparts, but not exactly. And I have developed the odd tendency to take the English phrasing, with German words, instead of the German one. For example, today I caught myself with the phrasing "das Ding ist, dass..." (the English "the thing is, that...") instead of using "die Sache ist die, dass..." as I should have. I also catch myself rather frequently with using "hast du eine Idee, was..." (the English "do you have any idea what...") instead of using "hast du eine Ahnung, was..." and I'm sure there are more examples.

It gets really annoying when even after thinking for a moment I'm not sure whether you can use some phrasing in German. I mean, these transformations are always more or less grammatically correct, they could exist, they are just not the right phrasing, and it's really disconcerting to have lost hat feeling of certainty in some instances. Of course I'm not alone in doing this, and in some cases the process is so far along that the "English" wording is replacing the one previously used or becoming an alternative like it has happened with "das macht keinen Sinn" (the English "makes no sense") and the German "ergibt keinen Sinn", I googled both combinations, and "macht keinen Sinn" is now about six times as common as the other one. And it's not like I'm some kind of language purist and think that the process in itself is awful, but it still is sort of embarrassing if you are doing it with phrases for which it is not common yet.

I think that the embarrassment of this is only surpassed by using common fixed expressions that don't exist at all in German, but are useful in English, so I use them in German as well (notorious is "I get the idea" though I really watch myself with that one by now). Just they don't exist (yet), and of course people look at me funny. Or I barely stop myself in time, and then have to scramble to think of how to phrase in German. I'm really starting to see why bilingual people, when they talk with other bilingual people (that is when they share the same two languages) seem to switch between languages in mid-sentence fairly regularly for some words or expressions without missing a beat. It sounds sort of odd at first, but I see why that is fairly common.
ratcreature: RatCreature's toon avatar (Default)
As I was browsing a linguistic site I found an interesting article about how pejorative nouns in German are derived (the link is to the English abstract), and I had never really consciously noticed this mechanism, i. e. that you can make nouns out of verbs either regularly or pejoratively. Basically in German if you have a verb (it works for most, though not for all), like "tanzen" (to dance), there's a number of nouns connected to it, like "Tanz" (dance), and "Tanzen" (dancing), but also "Tanzerei" and "Getanze" and the latter two are pejoratives. The article looks at the slight usage differences between the two kinds of pejoratives (the one with Ge- and the one with -ei) and all sorts of specialized stuff, but what struck me is that I never really paid attention to this nifty feature, though it's rather common, especially in spoken language. And thinking about this I also noticed that English doesn't really offer a comparable mechanism for an ad hoc pejorative, or does it?

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