Humor of Weak Words in German

Humor of Weak Words in German by Mark Twain is adapted from his book A Tramp Abroad [1880]:

I think that a description of any loud, stirring, tumultuous episode must be tamer in German than in English.

Our descriptive words of this character have such a deep, strong, resonant sound,

while their German equivalents do seem so thin and mild and energyless.

Boom, burst, crash, roar, storm, bellow, blow, thunder, explosion; howl, cry, shout, yell, groan; battle, hell. These are magnificent words; they have a force and magnitude of sound befitting the things which they describe.

But their German equivalents would be ever so nice to sing the children to sleep with, or else my awe-inspiring ears were made for display and not for superior usefulness in analyzing sounds.

Would any man want to die in a battle which was called by so tame a term as a SCHLACHT?

Or would not a comsumptive feel too much bundled up, who was about to go out, in a shirt-collar, into a storm which the bird-song word GEWITTER was employed to describe?

And observe the strongest of the several German equivalents for explosion—AUSBRUCH.

Our word Toothbrush is more powerful than that.

It seems to me that the Germans could do worse than import it (Toothbrush) into their language to describe particularly tremendous explosions with.

The German word for hell—Hoelle—sounds more like HELLY than anything else; therefore, how necessarily chipper, frivolous, and unimpressive it is.

If a man were told in German to go there, could he really rise to the dignity of feeling insulted?

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Humor of Long Words in German


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