Translation musings: how are you today?

Feb 27, 2015 | Uncategorized

pillsSo, how many of your staff are off sick today? Or should be off sick but are snuffling in a corner? It seems everyone I know (including me!) has had a horrible cold this winter. However, you will be glad to know that there are some illnesses we will never get. Unless you are German. Because there are, according to Arika Okrent at, some illnesses that only exist in German. So, here’s a selection of illnesses you never have to worry about, unless you are German.

This first one is brilliant. Kevinismus. I know. Kevinismus is, to be honest, not an illness at all but actually a craze for giving German children English (or American, if we’re being picky) names such as, yes, you guessed it, Kevin… There are, unfortunately, some negative connotations around these names, which is why, I suppose, it has been classed as an illness! I wonder if there are any German Perrys as well?

The next German illness sounds dreadful! What do you think Kreislaufzusammenbruch is all about? When translated in its purist form, it means circulatory collapse, which sounds pretty serious. What it kind of actually has come to mean, however, is feeling a little bit woozy – as in “I need to lie down, so I can’t come into work today…”

If, however, you are feeling that the world is against you and will never offer you what you need, perhaps you have a nasty case of Weltschmerz , or world pain. It is not angst, nor is it ennui, it is its own pain. Read this great article in The Guardian for more information!

Lastly an illness I will NEVER get, even if I move to Germany – Putzfimmel,  which literally means an obsession with cleaning. Yeah… never going to happen. But what a great word!


image credit: dimshik @