Wednesday, September 03, 2014

2303 Ausgezeichnet

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Even though the sound of it is something quite atrocious, I've always wondered what it might mean.

It certainly sounds like the most superlative of superlatives. A word like the German "ausgezeichnet." Which means wonderful. Or out of human imagination or comprehension. Or out of this world.  Conveniently, for translation purposes, ausgezeichnet actually sounds like out of sight. 

German's like that, a practical language that often easily disassembles into its component syllables. Like their word for telephone. In its Latin syllable components tele-phone means distant sounds. In German the word for telephone is fernsprechapparat. Which literally translates this way: "fern" means "far," "sprech" means "speaking," and "apparat" means "machine" or "apparatus." Fernsprechapparat: Far-speaking-machine. 

Likewise German is pretty straightforward about the whole seeing and hearing thing. Like when someone texts you and then says as he or she is closing, "good to hear from you," when in fact no sound was ever exchanged. Or like when right before you hang up the phone and are saying goodbye you say, "See you later."

See you later in German is auf wiedersehen. "Auf" meaning "on" "wieder" "again" and "sehen" "see." "On" in this case can loosely be translated as "on the occasion of" or "when" or "until." So Auf Wiedersehen is “'Til I see you again."

But when German folks hang up the phone the say Auf Wiederhören. Hören has an umlaut over the "o" and means hear. If we in English were to do that, instead of saying "see you later" when we say goodbye on the phone we would say "hear you later."

Actually it sounds pretty cool. So if you're reading this essay, see you later. And if you're listening to it on the radio or a podcast, hear you later.  

America, ya gotta love it. 

No comments: