The German wimp: A broad definition Posted by Constanze on Jul 13, 2014 in Language
Guten Tag, and wilkommen to another post on untranslatable German words.
This week I want to talk about a word that I didn’t know until last week, when a customer at work told me about “this German word that means you park in the shade”. He thought it was hilarious, but he couldn’t remember exactly what it was called, so I took the liberty to find out.
So this week’s untranslatable word, courtesy of Lewis, is Der Schattenparker.
What is the meaning of Schattenparker?
A Schattenparker is somebody who parks his car in the shade, for fear of it getting too hot in the sun. But unlike some German words which are quite literal in meaning, this word is a metaphor for a person who is basically a bit of a wimp.
What does Schattenparker literally translate as?
Its literal translation is “shade parker”.
How would you use it in a sentence?
“Er macht es nicht, weil er seine Hände nicht schmutzig machen will – Er ist so ein Schattenparker!“ He won’t do it, because doesn’t want to get his hands dirty – he’s such a Schattenparker!“
What is the nearest English equivalent?
Although there are words like wimp, wuss, baby, and expressions like “Are you a man or a mouse?” there is no word (that I can think of, anyway) that uses the metaphor of someone parking in the shade as an insult.
But Der Schattenparker is not a unique word. There are, in fact, are loads of words similar to Schattenparker. Allow me to introduce you to some similar German insults, together with their literal English translations:
Der Sockenschläfer – “The sock sleeper”
Der Damenradfahrer – “The women’s bike rider”
Der Jeansbügler – „The jeans-ironer“
Der Chefwitzlacher – “The boss’-joke-laugher”
Der Socken-in-Sandalen-Träger – “The socks-in-sandals wearer“
Der Zebrastreifenbenutzer – „The Zebra-crossing user“
Der Warmduscher – „The warm-showerer“
Der Gurtanschnaller – “The belt-buckler”
Der Beckenrandschwimmer – „The edge-of-pool-swimmer“
Der Frauenversteher – “The woman-understander”
Der Frühbucher – “The early-booker”
Der Handschuhschneeballwerfer – “The glove-snowball-thrower” (In other words: Someone who needs to wear gloves when throwing snowballs, because the snow is too cold for their hands. This one is my personal favourite!)
… I could go on, but I think you get the idea!
I find it hilarious that these words exist in German. From a literal perspective, the pattern with them is that they all insinuate that actions perceived as cautious (using a Zebra crossing, swimming close to the edge of the swimming pool), tidy (ironing jeans), or for somewhat sensitive people (taking a warm, rather than hot, shower) are reserved for wimpy men. Therefore, any time a man does something considered ‘un-manly’, they are at risk of having any one of these insults thrown at them. They could also be used for women, I suppose – though words like “Der Damenradfahrer” are quite obviously aimed at men. The great thing is that you can use any of these words to take the mick out of someone who is acting, in your opinion, a little “soft”!
Judging by how many of these words exist, I can only conclude that there is no room in Germany for behaving like a wimp – and the German definition of ‘wimp’ is pretty broad, as you can see!
In case you were wondering, there is no singular translation of the word ‘wimp’ in German (when asked, you’d most likely get told the words Der Weichei – ‘the soft ball/soft egg’ – or Der Schwächling – ‘the weakling’, as well as a few other variations). But the Germans have more than made up for that with their inventive insults listed above.
If you want to make up your own German insult, here’s how:
1. Take a noun. For instance, Milch (milk).
2. Take a verb that has something to do with that noun. For instance, trinken (to drink).
3. Remove the -en of the verb and replace it with -er. For instance, out of ‘trinken’ you’d make ‘trinker’. In doing this you are now describing a ‘drinker’ (someone who is drinking) rather than the verb ‘to drink’ (note: this rule isn’t exclusive to all verbs but, as you can see from above, it does the trick for many of them)
4. Put the noun and the verb together to create your new German insult: Milchtrinker. This translates to “Milk drinker”.
5. Say it in a sentence: “Er ist so ein Milchtrinker!” – “He is such a milk drinker!”
Please feel free to add more existing insults, or have a go at making up your own in German. And let me know if there are any similar words in English or your language! I would love to hear them!