Archive for the 'German' Category

12
Feb
08

Things you don’t learn in German class

I was just going through some old papers of mine and I found a little scrap of paper in amongst all the other papers with 4 German words written on it. I’m not quite sure what I had in mind when I wrote them down, but they are a few of my favorite German words, so I thought I would write about them here. I first heard them while I lived in Germany and I came to like them and be very amused by them. I think when you learn words like this in a non-native tongue, you start to see the personality of the language and really enjoy speaking it. Anyway, without further ado:

  1. Zack!” (Interjection) This was used often by my coworkers as a sort of onomatopoeia when something happened quickly or unexpectedly, not unlike “Boom!” My German dictionary translates it as “just like that” or “before you knew it”, but “Zack!” is much succinct and expressive, so I like it much better.
  2. Ratzfatz” (Adverb) This word is used to denote that something is or should be done quickly. I like the fact that its two syllables rhyme.
  3. Schwuppdiwupp!” (also just “Schwupp”) (interjection) This is similar to “Zack!”, although it carries with it more of sense of the unexpected or out of control. So, while I could say “… and then I punched him in the face. Zack!”, “Schwuppdiwupp” would not be appropriate here. Instead, it could be used like this: “I stepped out the door and schwuppdiwupp, I was on the ground thanks to the ice on the step.”
  4. Dingsbums” (noun) This roughly means “thingamajiggy” or “doodad”. It’s a word you use when you can’t think of the correct name for something. This word is becoming less popular in polite society because of the “bums” part, which is reminiscent of the verb “bumsen” which literally means “to bump”, but which has become a vulgar slang word for sex. In order to get past this problem, people often use “Dingsda” instead.

Fellow German speakers, what are you favorite German words?

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17
Sep
07

Photoblog

After a lot of messing around, a week or more of inaction, and a little more messing around, I finally got my photoblog up and running.  The bottom line seems to be that WordPress and the photoblogging plug-in don’t play nicely with 10MP images.  I had been hoping that I would be able to use the plug-in to automatically upload, resize, and thumbnail all the images I wanted to post on the photoblog, and while that may still be possible, I have given up trying to make it work.  For now, I will resize the images manually and then use the WordPress administrative interface to upload things.  This also will give me the opportunity to think about whether I want to crop the pictures at all in order to make sure the picture is composed exactly as I want it.

Anyway, my photoblog is now available at the unsurprising URL: http://imladris.mit.edu/photoblog/  (Update: this site is now down – see its replacement at http://instantforever.org)

I wrestled with the title for quite awhile, rather than choosing something lame like “insert title here”.  My initial choice was “14 Shots of the Dome”, which was meant to say something about how this site featured photography (“shots”) and about how I am a student of MIT, the most easily recognizable architectural feature of which is its dome.  I thought this title was a clever double meaning to both “shots” and “dome”, playing off L.L. Cool J’s album “14 Shots to the Dome”.  However, after some consideration, I decided not to use a name that evoked thoughts of someone getting shot in the head.

Going back to the drawing board, I began to think a lot about the nature of photography, which, I would say, is the way in which it takes a fleeting moment and records it, preserving it for eternity.  I’ve been thinking more about speaking German lately, so I thought I might want to choose a title in German.  Furthermore, the people who made both the WordPress photoblog plug-in as well as the WordPress theme I’m using are German speakers, so this seemed doubly appropriate.  In the end, I settled on “Der Ewige Augenblick”, which roughly translates to “The Eternal Instant” or “The Everlasting Moment”.  I also considered “Der Ewiggewordene Augenblick”, which would more precisely capture the idea of an instant becoming eternal, but that seems like a mouthful for English speakers.

I posted a picture last night and another one tonight.  I hope that you’ll take a look and let me know what you think.

21
Jan
07

A Wii post everyone can enjoy

This video comes courtesy of Ben Kuchera at Arstechnica.com, which is a website I frequent with, well, great frequency. It’s basically a poorly shot video of someone getting a hole-in-one while playing golf in the German version of Wii Sports. The German expression for “hole in one” is “das Einlochen mit dem ersten Schlag” (courtesy of dict.leo.org), which doesn’t exactly have a great ring to it (even for German speakers). So, the game developers used a different term to note the achivement, which you’ll see at the end of the video.

And now, to the video.

Finally, after watching the video, to ease your bewilderment, a translation.

12
Jan
07

The computers of Middle-Earth

This post will pretty much out me as a huge nerd, though I’m guessing that all my previous posts have probably taken care of that already.

Yesterday, I registered my fourth static IP address and hostname with MIT. I needed a fourth because I now have 3 computers and a Wii at home, all of which access the network using static IP addresses. Yesterday’s new hostname also marked the third The Lord of the Rings-related hostname I’ve registered. The hostnames I’ve chosen are as follows (in chronological order):

  1. rechner“: I chose this in the fall of 2003 when Heather and I got our then-new home desktop machine. It has nothing to do with Tolkien because I wasn’t into The Lord of the Rings at that point. Anyway, it simply means “computer” in German, which I think is pretty appropriate for a machine we use for general computing.
  2. imladris“: This is the machine that hosts this blog. Imladris is the Elvish (Sindarin) name for a refuge and home for the Elves in Middle-Earth, more commonly known as Rivendell. I chose this name because this machine would be my online home, hosting my family’s photo galleries and my blog. Also, I chose Imladris instead of Rivendell, because Rivendell was already taken… (Update: Imladris no longer hosts this blog. In fact, Imladris has been retired.)
  3. ainulindale“: I honestly have no idea how to pronounce this. This is the Elvish (Quenya) word for the song sung by Iluvatar and the Ainur that created the world, which is discussed in The Silmarillion, rather than any of the Lord of the Rings books. I chose this for my Apple AirPort Express, which I bought to stream iTunes music from my computer to my stereo. I have since retired my AirPort Express due to the unreliable nature of our building’s wireless network and its inability to stream audio sources other than iTunes. It has since been replaced by a Griffin RocketFM. When I got my Wii, I used this hostname for it, which is still somewhat appropriate given the ethereal music that plays on the Wii menu.
  4. orthanc“: This is the Elvish (Sindarin) word for the tower at Isengard, where Saruman lived. I chose this name because the corresponding computer is a black tower, just like Orthanc. I also considered the name “palantir” or “palantiri”, which are the so-called “seeing stones” in The Lord of the Rings, since it will be used for recording television, which itself means “far sight”. However, I haven’t fully decided if the long-term purpose of this machine will be for running Linux and MythTV or whether I will convert it to a Windows Home Server machine when that comes out. So, I thought it would be better to name it according to its appearance rather than its function.

Owning a copy of Robert Foster’s The Complete Guide to Middle-Earth helped immensely with the choosing of these names. Not only that, if you’re interested in reading any work by Tolkien, I would recommend having a copy of this book next to you at all times, so you can look up unfamiliar terms as you read. It will help you get a lot more out of his books than you would get without it.

Finally, lest you think I’m really strange, I would like to point out that lots of people choose names from literature (or other realms of knowledge) to name their computers. For example, my advisor has a policy of naming all the computers in his research group after characters from Dickens novels.




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