Wednesday, April 8, 2015

translating words of abuse

The language with which we abuse people is harsh and unfair, but sometimes colourful as well.
Just now I'm looking at the German word Einfaltspinsel. Einfalt means naivete or simplicity. Push it a little and it means stupid. To break that down even more, a Falt is a fold or pleat, so Einfalt is a single fold or pleat.
A Pinsel is a brush. That makes an Einfaltspinsel a single-fold brush. Except brushes don't have folds, they have hairs, so an Einfaltspinsel is a single-hair brush.
Neat, eh? Who came up with that one? A master painter shouting at a hopeless apprentice? Though maybe the apprentice only had a different way of seeing and applying paint. The word first appeared in print in 1732.
In the dictionary, Einfaltspinsel translates as nitwit.

If you are planning a trip to a German-speaking country and packing a few words of abuse to toss around, I don't know how current Einfaltspinsel is. It can be found online if that's an indication.

The frog comes from my old copy of Grimms which I'm using for something else I'm writing. He's a happy frog, isn't he? Ready for spring as we all are in the unending cold that winter has been.

Back to work...

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