Friday, December 30, 2016

How do you say “Happy New Year” in German?

Germans like to be “froh” or “fröhlich,” as testified by the Christmas greetings “Frohe Weihnachten!” and “Fröhliche Weihnachten!” (see How do you say Merry Christmas in German?). In Germany, folks wish each other “a happy new year”—“ein frohes neues Jahr!”, typically using the indefinite article at the phrase beginning. 

Ein fröhliches neues Jahr!” is grammatically correct, but considered too long and rarely used. Also common are “ein gutes neues Jahr!” and “ein schönes neues Jahr!” meaning “a good new year!” and “a pleasant new year!”, respectively.

Of course, you can get creative by using other adjectives. For example, “ein gesundes neues Jahr!” for “a healthy new year!”; “ein erfolgreiches neues Jahr!” for “a successful new year!” or  “ein friedliches neues Jahr!” for “a peaceful new year!”    

And then there is the greeting “Einen guten Rutsch ins neue Jahr!”, or shorter: “Guten Rutsch!” It is somewhat of a mystery, how this phrase derived.  The noun “Rutsch” means slide or glide. So, you may take this phrase literally as “slide well into the new year.” Considering that New Year's Eve often comes with snow-and-ice weather conditions, this greeting can evoke a dark-humor connotation. However, an older meaning of  “Rutsch” is travel. In this regard, the phrase “Guten Rutsch!” casually wishes a good journey into (and through) the next year.

German-English Vocabulary to derive German “New Year” greetings/wishes

ein: a
erfolgreich: successful
friedlich: peaceful
froh: happy or merry
gesund: healthy 
gut: good 
Jahr: year
neu: new
schön: pleasant

Friday, December 23, 2016

How do you find mulled wine on a German Christmas market?

A “Glühwein” bar on Bremen's Christmas market
If you don't find it by its smell, you want to look for the word “Glühwein.” This masculine noun is composed of the stem “Glüh” and the noun “Wein.”  “Glüh” is derived from the verb “glühen,” meaning “to glow.” And you already figured that “Wein” means “wine.” The hot alcoholic drink has a glow to it (depending on how you are looking at it)—and you will glow after drinking one or two cups or mugs.

A typical “Glühwein” recipe asks for red wine (white wine is possible too), water, cloves, cinnamon, sugar, and orange slices. I prefer honey instead of plain sugar. Although I never tried it, I think maple syrup would be another flavorful alternative. To further spice up the drink, a piece of ginger may be added.  “Glühwein” is not an instant drink. “Glühwein” requires  time to both be prepared and be enjoyed. 

Looking for something sweeter and stronger than “Glühwein?” Try a mug of  “Feuerzangenbowle” —the more sugary and rum-enhanced version of mulled wine.

A “Glühwein”mug to drink mulled wine

Thursday, December 22, 2016

How do you translate “Beeswax” into German?

Beeswax candles
Beeswax candles at Christmas market in Bremen, Germany
The English compositum “beeswax” is one of those words that can be translated by simple concatenation of the translated nouns from which it is built. The German word for “bees” is ”Bienen,” the plural form of the feminine noun ”Biene.” The German word for “wax” is the etymologically related noun ”Wachs.” Stringing ”Bienen” and ”Wachs” together, we get ”Bienenwachs.”

The top picture shows candles made of beeswax for sale at the Christmas market in downtown Bremen, Germany. A sign promises that the candles are made of 100% pure beeswax. If you want to buy a beeswax candle, you would ask for a ”Bienenwachskerze.” The feminine German noun ”Kerze” means candle. The plural form of  ”Bienenwachskerze” is ”Bienenwachskerzen.”

Shopping for beeswax candles
Shopping for beeswax candles at a market hut on Bremen's Christmas market

Friday, December 2, 2016

How do you say “Merry Christmas” in German?

Gingerbread hearts with German Christmas greetings
Gingerbread hearts with German Christmas greetings at Christmas market in downtown Bremen: “Frohe Weihnachten” und “Frohes Fest

  • English: “Merry Christmas”
  • German: “Frohe Weihnachten or “Fröhliche Weihnachten 

Merry Christmas” means “Frohe Weihnachten” (pronounced: froo-he vi-nach-tenn) in German. Note that the first “h” in “Weihnachten” is not pronounced.  The dipthong “ch” is glutteral. The longer greeting “Fröhliche Weihnachten” is used synonymously for “Frohe Weihnachten.”

The shorter version “Frohe Weihnachten”often is the preferred form in writing—such as the sugar-ink writing on gingerbread hearts, one of which is shown in the picture above. The blue-rimmed heart in the background says: “Frohes Fest.” In this context, “Fest” means “holiday” with the undertone of “celebration.”

If you are going to wish someone “Merry Christmas” in German or want to finish your letter, postcard or e-mail with a seasonal greeting, you also could include the word  “Tag” (meaning “day”) or “Zeit” (meaning “time”) in  your greeting phrase. “Ich wünsche Ihnen frohe Weihnachtstage!” means “I wish you merry Christmas Days!” Yes, there are two official Christmas holidays in Germany (December 25 and December 26). “Ich wünsche Ihnen und Ihrer Familie eine frohe Weihnachtszeit!” means “I wish you and your family a merry Christmas time!

Keywords: Christmas greeting; translation; Übersetzen; English-German; Englisch-Deutsch.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Garfield Peak in Crater Lake National Park named for politician and lawyer James Rudolph Garfield

Garfield Peak with Crater Peak in the background
Craggy Garfield Peak (left half of picture) with cone-shaped Crater Peak in the background
Garfield Peak in Crater Lake National Park was named by William Gladstone Steel for James Rudolph Garfield (1865-1950), who was the son of the 20th President of the United States, James Abram Garfield (1831-1881). J. R. Garfield was Secretary of the Interior in the Roosevelt administration. He was the first cabinet officer to visited Crater Lake in the summer of 1907—five years after Crater Lake was declared a national park during Teddy Roosevelt's presidency [1-3].

From the rustic lodge in Crater Lake's Rim Village, a hiking trail follows the craggy rim to the summit of Garfield Peak (8054 ft, 2455 m). The round-trip, with an elevation gain of 1010 ft (308 m) during the ascend, is 3.4 miles long. The hike was rated difficult (Hike 5 in Trails of Crater Lake by William L. Sullivan, Navillus Press, Eugene, 2014). 

References and more to explore
[1] Names and Places of Crater Lake. Appendix H in Crater Lake Historic Resource Study [].
[2] Oregon Hikers: Garfield Peak [].
[3] Wiki 2: Garfield Peak (Oregon) []. 

Crater Lake's Merriam Cone named for the American scientist and educator John Campbell Merriam

Illustration of Merriam Cone, an underwater cinder cone southwest of Cleetwood Cove, Crater Lake, Oregon

Crater Lake's Merriam Cone is an underwater cinder cone—hidden from view in contrast to Wizard Island (another cinder cone), which can be seen from almost any place on the rim, including the Sinnott Memorial Overlook at Rim Village. While volcanic Wizard Island is named for its resemblance with a sorcerer's hat, the underwater volcano is named in honor of John Campbell Merriam (1869-1945) [1-5].

Merriam was a paleontologist, conservationist and educator. He achieved scientific prominence at UC Berkeley, California, from where he led expeditions to study fossils in California, Nevada and the Pacific Northwest. In Oregon, he was influential in turning the John Day Fossil Beds into a state park. In the 1920s, Merriam became director of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, fostering scientific research. There, he tapped Carnegie money to augment federal funding for the Sinnott Overlook with its educational exhibits. Merriam viewed the dramatic landscape of Crater Lake National Park as a “superuniversity of nature,” inspiring and educating visitors [6]. Stephen R. Mark writes [6]:

For Merriam, Crater Lake stood out as a superb case study, an opportunity to show how a scientist could develop a formalized program of “interpreting” nature for the general public.

Today, “nature & science lovers” can find various interpretive sites at Crater Lake, but also uninterpreted ones to test their own knowledge and skills in appreciating and understanding creation through natural processes—geological processes reshaping our dynamic Earth.

Keywords: geography, traveling, natural history, geology, cinder cone, outdoor learning.

References and more to explore
[1] USGS: Merriam Cone, Crater Lake, Oregon [].
[2] Stephen R. Mark: John C. Merriam (1869-1945). The Oregon Encyclopedia. [].
[3] Chester Stock: John Campbell Merriam (1869-1945). National Academy of Science, Washington D.C., 1951 [].
[4] UCSB: John Campbell Merriam (1869-1945) [].
[5] UCMP: John C. Merriam (1869-1945) [].
[6]  Stephen R. Mark: A Study in Appreciation of Nature. John C. Merriam and the Educational Purpose of Crater Lake National Park. Oregon Historical Quarterly 2002, 103 (1), pp. 98-123 [].

Friday, October 7, 2016

Crater Lake's Wizard Island named for its shape resembling a sorcerer's hat

Crater Lake with Wizard Island and Llao Rock
Wizard Island and Llao Rock (top right) named by William Steel, who initiated the national park idea of Crater Lake
Wherever standing on the rim surrounding Crater Lake, visitors marvel at the deep blue water and the green-gray island of the lake's west side: Wizard Island. This volcanic island appears cone-shaped whether you see it from the Sinnott_Lookout at Rim Village, a West Rim Drive spot or any other rim lookout. To get on to Wizard Island, you need to descend Cleetwood Cove Trail and get on a tour boat with an interpretive ranger. While approaching the cinder cone you may wonder how the island got its name.  

Crater Lake's early promoter William Gladstone Steel, who first visited Crater Lake in 1885, thought the cone looks like a sorcerer's hat [1]. He named the island Wizard Island and stuck to his witchcraft & sorcery approach by calling the crater on top of the island the Witches Cauldron [2,3]. 

Keywords: geography, geographic names, Wizard Island, Crater Lake National Park, Oregon.

References and more to explore
[1] William L. Sullivan: Trails of Crater Lake. Navillus Press, Eugene, Oregon, 2014. Note: see Hike 11.
[2] Crater Lake Institute: William Steel [].
[3]  Crater Lake Historic Resource Study: Names and Places of Crater Lake [].

Friday, September 16, 2016

Thismia, a flowering-plant genus named after the English microscopist Thomas Smith

Smithia → a, h, i, i, m, s, t → Thismia

As the above line shows, the word Thismia is an anagram. It is a play on the last name of the English microscopist Thomas Smith (died ca. 1825) [1]. In the intriguing “Afterthoughts” section of his article “Where is Thismia americana?,” Robert H. Mohlenbrock gives further details [2]:

The genus Thismia was named by a botanist named William Griffith in 1844. He wanted to name it after a colleague named Smith, but did not think Smithia sounded scientific enough, so he scrambled the letters in Smith, added “ia” at the end, and came up with Thismia.

Something to remember for your next session of Botany Scrabble!

In many publications you will find Thismia species classified as members of the Burmanniaceae family. But since species of Thismia are so unique, most botanist now separate them, according to Mohlenbrock, into the Thismiaceae family. Thismia species are myco-heterotrophic plants, which lack chlorophyll and parasitize fungi for their food supply.

The mysterious North American species, Thismia americana, was last seen in 1916 [2]. But new species are still discovered during botanical surveys in tropical regions, such as Thismia betung-kerihunensis from West Kalimantan, Borneo [3] and Thismia puberula from Southern Vietnam [4].

By the way, the name Smithia was considered scientific enough by others to give this name to a genus of flowering plants in the legume family (Leguminosae or Fabaceae) [5].

Keywords: word play, botany, taxonmy, mycotrophic plantsBurmanniaceae > Thismiaceae > Dioscoreales > Monocots > Angiosperms.

References and more to explore
[1] Flora of North America: Thismia [].
[2] Robert H. Mohlenbrock: Where is Thismia americane? Natural History September 2016, 124 (8), pp. 42-44.
[3] Hirokazu Tsukaya and Hiroshi Okada: A New Species of Thismia (Thismiaceae) from Wast Kalimantan, Borneo. Systematic Botany 2012, 37 (1), pp. 53-57.
DOI: 10.1600/036364412X616639.
[4] Maxim Nuraliev, Anton Beer, Andrew Kuznetsov and Svetlana Kuznetsova: Thismia puberula (Thismiaceae), a new species from Southern Vietnam. Phytotaxa November 2015, 234 (2). DOI: 10.11646/phytotaxa.234.2.3.
[5] Wikipedia: Smithia [].

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Phylloxera vastatrix, meaning “devastator of vines”

Literally, Phylloxera vastatrix means dry-leaf devastator. The binomial term is composed of three words of the following origins: the Greek noun phyllon for leaf; the Greek/Hebrew adjective xeros for dry; and the Latin noun vastatrix for waster, ravager or devastator [1-3].

Phylloxera vastatrix refers to an observation made in the late 19th century in vineyards in France and other parts of vine-growing Europe. Healthy green leaves of vine plants suddenly turned red in midsummer, followed by the plant's drying and dying. In the 1860s la nouvelle maladie de la vigne was studied in affected vineyards in southern France. The French botanist Jules Émile Planchon and two other agricultural examiners unearthed dead vines, but couldn't find anything. Next, they inspected the roots of still healthy looking vines growing in neighborhood to the dead ones. They found those roots infected by pale-yellow bugs resembling winged termites. Maximillian Potter describes the then shocking news—of what the Planchon team found when they scanned the roots with magnifying glasses—as follows [4]:
As the team filed in their report, beneath the [magnifying] glass they found “not one, not ten, but hundreds, thousands” of tiny yellowish louses on the wood sucking the sap. Over the course of three days, every affected vineyard they visitied, in St.-Rémy, at Graveson, at Châteauneuf-du-Pape, among others, they found these insects, pucerons, which Planchon named Phylloxera vastatrix, meaning  “devastator of vines.”
This grapevine pest is today commonly called phylloxera or grape phylloxera. Its current scientific name is Daktulosphaira vitifoliae. Since its emergence as Phylloxera vastatrix it has been of considerable scientific interest and importance to viticultural enterprises [5].

Keywords: viticulture, entomolgy, insects, phylloxera plague, grapevine.

References and moreto explore
[1] phyllon [].
[2] xeros []
[3] vastatrix [ ].
[4] Maximillian Potter: Shadows in the Vineyard. Twelve, New York, first trade edition, July 2015; page 107.
[5] Astrid Forneck and Lars Huber: (A)sexual reproduction - a review of life cycles of grape phylloxera, Daktulosphaira vitifolia. Entomologica Experimentalis et Applicata, 2009, 131 , pp. 1-10. DOI: 10.1111/j.1570-7458.2008.00811.x.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

VINE and WINE, a word pair with differences in pronunciation and meaning

The nouns vine and wine look similar and sound similar—they rhyme. Yet, the two words differ in pronunciation and meaning.  The beginning consonant in vine sounds like the one in the word violet. And the noun wine begins like the word white.

The semantic difference: Vine is the plant that produces grapes (vine berries). Wine is an alcoholic beverage made by fermenting grape juice. The following sentence illustrates the relation and distinction between the two nouns:
The more a vine struggles, the better the vine and the wine.
Wine chemistry follows vine chemistry follows soil chemistry! The highlighted sentence above has been extracted from a much longer one in Maximillian Potter's “Shadows in the Vineyard,” comparing viticulture in Burgundy (France) and California. Here the complete sentence [1]:

Burgundians believe that some density of planting is good for the vines because it forces them to compete for nutrients; the more a vine struggles, so goes the cliché in Burgundy, the better the vine and the wine. 

Vine, wine and Germans
Germans have the masculine noun Wein for both the plant and the drink—vine and wine. You may have met Germans (like me from northern Germany, where climate & soil is not in favor of viticulture) struggling to say these two English words correctly. But there is help available on the Web [2].
Depending on context, the word vine may variously be translated into German as Weinstock or Rebstock (both masculine) or Weinrebe (feminine) when one wants to refer to the cultivated plant—a vineyard's grape vine, which is the common grape vine (Vitis vinifera).

Keywords: writing, spelling, pronunciation, German-English, grapevine.

References and more
[1] Maximillian Potter: Shadows in the Vineyard. Twelve, New York, first trade edition, July 2015; page 158.
[2] Recommended for German speakers: How to say VINE and WINE - American English Pronunciation Lesson [].

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Brexit, short for “British exit” and costly for Great Britain and Europe

The portmanteau Brexit stands for “British exit.” This term mirrors the abbreviation Grexit, referring to the (potential) withdrawal of Greece from the Eurozone. While the Grexit, debated in context of the Greece debt crisis—and not wished for by most Greeks—has (for now) been avoided, the Brexit depends on the United Kingdom European Union membership referendum scheduled for June 23, 2016. The referendum will take place in the United Kingdom and Gibraltar.

If the majority of Britons are going to vote in favor of a Brexit, Great Britain will—more or less—be deprived of an active role in shaping the world around its isles. Escaping European bureaucracy and stepping aside EU regulations will not help in turning unwelcome constraints into advancing strategies.

For example, leaders in the U.K.'s biotech industry argue that a Brexit would create a significant research funding gap for biotech companies, since the U.K. contributes about 12% to the EU budget dedicated for science research, but receives 15% of that budget. And [1]: “A Brexit would also require a new U.K. drug authorization system and the uprooting of the London-based European Medicines Agency to an EU country.”

A large number of scientist, including Stephen Hawking, are concerned about the United Kingdom leaving the European Union [2]. The clock is ticking. Europe and the world is watching!

Keywords: plebiscite, British Euroscepticism, European Union.

[1] Alex Scott: Industry urges against Brexit. Chemical & Engineering News March 7, 2016, 94 (10), page 8.
[2] What would Brexit mean for Science?