Progressive politics, ideas & culture


Culture Wars I

This Magazine Staff

I heard a weird little piece on the CBC tonight. It seems that the Germans, to counteract widespread conviction that they have an unpleasant-sounding tongue, had a contest to determine the nicest-sounding word in the German language.
The winners, as best I was able to determine (corrections welcome).
third place: Lieben (love)
second place: Geborgeheit (a word meaning “security”, of the sort you get from a mother holding a baby)
first place: Habseiligheiden (a word meaning “having few possessions or belongins”, but in a good way, like you’ve downshifted, not in a bad way, like you’re just poor).

What to say? You have to love a country so insecure about its language that they have a contest to determine its greatest word. But isn’t it ridiculous? Germany having a contest to determine its greatest word is like Canada having a contest to determine the greatest Canadian.
UPDATE: My friend Peter Dietsch, who speaks three languages better than I speak one, has informed me that these are the correct spellings of the words I heard on the radio:
1) Habseligkeiten
2) Geborgenheit
3) Liebe

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