German is known to be a very precise language – great for philosophy and technology – but don’t be fooled. it can also be colorfully idiomatic. As we’ve seen in other German videos, Germans love their sausage and many of their meat specialties are made from pork.
The spread of pigs in German culture and industry cannot be emphasized enough, and nowhere is it more visible than in their language. Take the floor sow. It literally means female pig, but it’s used in so many other ways that it’s good to learn it early to avoid misunderstandings. You will want to know whether or not someone calls you a pig in a good way!
The spread of pigs in German culture and industry cannot be emphasized enough, and nowhere is it more visible than in their language.
Sau: The prefix
sow is a very versatile prefix that you can add before an adjective or noun to emphasize its meaning. As the word super was only used sow can also be appended to all sorts of other words to emphasize how extreme something is. As I said Super or path, or total in American English, the British equivalent would be bloody or Damn it.
Saulecker – Incredibly delicious
very expensive – Really expensive
When to use sow
Remember, this is very informal language and you should try these phrases out with friends before talking to your boss in this way. I’ve heard older people (I know age is just a number!) – even over 50 – use this slang, but I wouldn’t do it if I spoke to them granny (Grandma) or someone I don’t know yet.
The first time I heard the word sow was probably in high school during the exchange in Berlin. My host father also loved his sausage and would exclaim, Delicious! Super tasty to mean at lunchtime, when he dug into his heaped plate of sausage and boiled potatoes.
You can combine some basic vocabulary and words you’ve learned to create native sounding variations:
cheap – Incredibly cheap
Saugut – Unbelievable good
But more often sow is used to emphasize a negative experience, such as extremely heavy – – very difficult, or Cold as hell – –very cold,or the dumbest dumbest thing / person ever: stupid.
Not a pig
No pig means nobody and can be used to emphasize in a general statement such as No pig can read that! – Nobody can read this!
According to legend, the origins of this proverb go back to the late Middle Ages. Of the few educated people of the time, some made their living as scribes and readers. A family near the northern city of Schleswig called Swien had these reading and writing skills and carried out reading services for the people in the region. If a Swien was presented with an illegible document, the customer had to leave – because not even a Swien could read it.
The other version of the story says that the term refers to Peter Swyn (1480-1537), an educated man from Lunden / Dithmarschen who often acted as legal advisor and scribe. Hence the similar sentence: “Even Peter Swyn cannot read this = no pig can read it.” Regardless of the etymology, the expression is common and has parallels such as “No pig calls me!”. That means: “Nobody ever calls me!”
The other day someone actually called me out of the blue – everything is prepackaged at Zoom these days, right? – the surprise in my voice was unmistakable. To explain I said: No pig calls me! It is meant something self-pitying. I channeled the first line of the song of the same name, written and performed by the famous German singer Max Raabe. It is one of his best-known titles in the style of the 1920s and 1930s, the lyrics and arrangements of which are reminiscent of jazz and swing songs by male harmony groups in the interwar years in Berlin.
The chorus of the song is:
|No pig calls me.||Nobody [no pig] call me|
|No sow belongs to me.||Nobody [no pig] is interested in me|
|And I ask myself,||And I ask myself|
|have to think||Has anyone ever|
|someone to me?||Remember me?|
Oink – More Pig Languages
But the word for pig the pig (Pig) or the pig (female pig, specifically a sow), is also used in many other German idioms. For example, if you just had a stroke of luck, you might say: Hit pig. You “had” a pig. If it takes a while you are a Lucky pig. A “happy” pig. If your luck is bad you would be one poor pig. A sad or poor pig.
In my first year in Germany, I was confused when I saw little marzipan pigs everywhere during the holiday season, some of them wearing green or holding a four-leaf clover. Then I got one for free on New Year’s Eve! It turns out that this is another German tradition that gives someone a lucky pig made from the famous almond confectionery to wish them good luck for the new year.
But it doesn’t stop there. If you’re the one who’s not going fast enough on the freeway, a driver behind you can call you Stupid pig. If you tend to be messy, you might be referred to as a pigletthat’s a pig. So do your best to stay neat– neat, and you will be happy, even a real lucky pig!
There are some less fortunate uses for the word too sowHopefully you don’t need to hear often:
That was really bad – – Very shitvery bad or crappy [literally: that was really under all pigs]
This is also a somewhat vulgar slang, so use it with caution.
That doesn’t mean a pig!– Nobody cares or is interested [literally: Not even a pig is interested]
Cool and sexy
Let’s say you meet young people and want to make friends quickly. It is a good idea to understand what is being said. Finding some of these keywords that we covered can help you figure out what general direction the conversation is headed in. You can even bring in your own cool phrases to sound like a native speaker, and that last slang word in use is so important – super important!
This common slang word is hot, which means great or cool. It also literally means sexy and / or horny and can be used to express that. So you should be extra careful in what context you throw this phrase out there. It is most often used by young people to mean cool, but is understood by German speakers of all ages. Now it can also be used in combination with sow! Yeah, then it says you guessed it, super cool.
Suction cord – Insanely cool, super cool, totally cool
One last pig
Well, you probably won’t find these sentences in any text by the German philosophers Nietzsche, Hegel or Heidegger or the engineers Porsche, Benz or Diesel (yes, all of these words started as the last name of the Germans!), But if you ‘I want to be fluent with some become Colloquial language – Colloquial languages in German, then try a hot or even a Suction cord! Go straight ahead, let the pig out!
Let the pig out – This German expression literally means “let the sow (female pig) out” and, depending on who you are, can be translated as “blow up”, “let your hair down” or “let everyone hang around” – basically, to party hard.
At the party today they really let the pig out. – They’re getting really crazy at the party today.
Be aware that this phrase has the connotation of molesting yourself in public … much like a pig would do on the loose.
The Berlin rap / hip-hop group KIZ has a song called “Lass die Sau raus”, the lyrics of which describe the meaning of the phrase in different ways. You can look it up yourself 😉
So you are now well equipped to have a conversation in German littered with pig metaphors, peppered with piggy vocabulary, and you will speak German more confidently every day. First, write down your audience in order to choose the right level of formality. Otherwise, don’t worry about making mistakes practicing your language skills –it doesn’t belong to a pig!