Untranslatable German Words: der Schickimicki Posted by Sten on May 3, 2018 in Culture, Language
A friend of mine told me this week: “Schickimicki is one of my favorite German words!” It made me realize, it is quite a cute word! It also made me wonder: How would you accurately translate it to English? It is harder than you might think. Let’s go!
What does Schickimicki mean?
As you can tell from the capitalized S, Schickimicki is a noun. However, it is perhaps even more as an adverb. As a noun, it is male: der Schickimicki. It is somebody that values trends and fashion and other trendy items, so it is a “trendy person”. But it is often used somewhat abwertend (derogatory), seen as somebody doing schick over the top. Sie halten sich für sehr wichtig (They think they are very important). So a certain Arroganz (arrogance) is associated with it too.
If something is Schickimicki, like a Schickimicki-Auto, it is a fancy car, but one that has a lot of Schnickschnack. While Schickimicki is not a bad word, it is generally not something people aspire to be!
What would be a literal translation of Schickimicki?
Actually, Schickimicki does not even mean anything in German. It comes from the word schick, which means “fashionable”, “posh”, “smart”. Nothing bad! If somebody finds something schick, or says that you look schick, that is a great thing! No derogatory meaning there! But once you make it a Reduplikation (reduplication), where you repeat (a part of) the word, it is bound to change the intention behind the word. So really, you cannot translate the word directly. We can try though, English also knows Reduplikation (think of “knick-knack” from last week). Let’s give it a shot: What about “trendy-fendy”? You tell me. If you have a suggestion, let me know in the comments below!
How would you use Schickimicki in a sentence?
Either you use it to refer to a person:
Er hat sich gestern eine neue Hose gekauft, weil die gerade im Trend sind. Dabei hat er letzte Woche auch schon neue gekauft. Solch ein Schickimicki!
(Yesterday, he bought himself some new jeans, because they are fashionable right now. Even though he bought new ones just last week. Such a Schickimicki!)
Ein Jaguar ist ja eine tolle Sache, aber ich fahre lieber Volkswagen. So ein Schickimicki-Auto fahre ich nicht!
(Sure, a Jaguar is a nice-to-have, but I prefer a Volkswagen. I don’t drive such a Schickimicki car!)
What is the nearest English equivalent to Schickimicki?
For the person, perhaps just a “trendy person”, though that does not have the derogatory ring to it. And it does not have the same nice flow.
For the adverb, we can be more creative. English has “fancy-schmancy” on offer, for example! That has a similar derogatory meaning, so it would appears to be quite a good translation for Schickimicki. In my experience, however, you will hear Schickimicki a lot more in German than you hear “fancy-schmancy” in English.
What do you think of the word Schickimicki? Does your language have a more accurate translation? Let me know in the comments below!