Friday, 2 May 2008

It's German Rhyming Slang!

No not really. I don't think German has rhyming slang, but I could be wrong. Many liminal groups have a secret language to identify themselves to each other and to reinforce their seperateness from the mainstream: from Elizabethan thieves' cant, through the secret language of Chinese women (Nüshu), to polari (British gay slang), and of course London Cockney rhyming slang. So why not sub-groups in Germany?

Apart from pinching words from other liminal groups (for example, a lot of cant, polari, and Cockney words are from Romani), rhyming phrases where the second rhyming component is hidden are common. Quite a few Cockney rhyming slang phrases were actually first coined
by the Navvies - the Navigators; a band of itinerent heavy-construction workers, many foreign (especially Irish), brought together and moved across the country to build first the canals and then the rail networks. One example of many is Billy O'Gorman = foreman.

Anyway, I'd be interested if anyone can give examples of German rhyming slang.
LEO reports that Birne (pear) is slang
for the noggin
i.e head and I wonder if that is because Birne rhymes with Gehirne, brains?

But, just for fun, here are some suggestions for a German rhyming slang:

Under (my totally made up) German rhyming slang, piglets are Angela Merkel (=Ferkel).
e.g. “Es gab viele kleine Angela Merkel in der Hof.” - there were loads of little Angela Merkels in the farmyard.
(I think this has caught on already, given the number of
google hits 'Angela Ferkel' gets!)

And you don't pull on a pair of trousers, you pull on your Karls (Karl der Große (Charlemagne) = Hose).
e.g. “Ich kaufte mir todschicke Karls.” - I bought myself some groovy Karls.

Strangely, in this new Slang, to give somebody a dog and bone is to give them a punching (der Hund und Knochen = das Lochen), not a phonecall.
e.g.
Mensch 1: "Ich gebe dir einen Hund später!" - I'm giving you a dog later!
Mensch 2 (Missverständnis): "Also, gut! Meine Telefonnummer ist 030 45 6 - OUCH!"

If you insult someone as a dope-head, you could call them a Claudia (Claudia Schiffer = Kiffer; pot-head).
e.g. "Du Vollclaudia!" - you total Claudia!

When you raise a glass, using German rhyming slang you should say 'Helmut!' (Helmut Kohl = Wohl = zum Wohl!)

And Cockney 'apples and pears' have a very different meaning in Neue deutsche gereimte Slang; Äpfel und Birnen = Dirnen (prostitute).
e.g. “Sie sieht aus wie ein Haufen von Äpfeln.” - she looked like a pile of apples.

Internet Denglish can also be adopted; if somebody bangs on at length about a pet peeve in a forum, they could be said to be having a Willy (Willy Brandt = Rant). If the Willy gets out of hand, you might adminish other posters to "Fütter nicht die Sophie!" (Sophie Scholl = Troll; but that's rather a slur on the name of a very brave woman).

Further suggestions welcome, but for now I'm off down the rub-a-dub-dub
for a kitchen sink and a packet of salted Nissan huts.

Helmut!

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