From Chris Burkart
"Might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb" (if I was going to get into trouble, I might as well go for the gusto, because small or big crime, I would be in trouble either way).
"You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's (pig's) ear."
From David Scheid
This was reportedly said by my father's maternal grandmother - Don't know the German version - it was said in dialect.
From Vera Beljakova-Miller
"You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear" I believe comes from Shakespeare. Russians are keen on Shakespeare and adopt many saying from him, then maybe the Germans heard it and translated it - then retranslated it back into english thinking they are Russian or German sayings.
Here we need the input of a language professor.
Words of Endearment, Frustration & Reprimand
From Gary Less
Words of reprimand:
du schlamassel - I never was sure what this meant,
the German dictionary says it means "mess"
du schameel (phonetic spelling) - I didn't know what this meant either but it came across as not very complimentary. I could not find it in the German dictionary. Perhaps someone can define it.
du schafkopf - sheeps head
du kleina schlingel - This was one of my Mom's favorite expressions, it means "you little rascal".
Words of frustration:
I hope I am not offending someone but both Ma and
Pa (that is what we called them) had words of frustration when something
didn't go their way. The English translation doesn't make much sense.
henne wetter - hen weather
donner wetter - thunder weather
drei tausend - three thousand
On occasion stronger words were used by Pa, but I won't repeat them here for fear of censorship.
Words of endearment:
schatz - darling or treasure
liebling - darling
These words were heard a lot when Pa was talking to Ma, which to me is an indication that they truly loved each other.
Please don't get me wrong, both of my parents were kind loving people that thought the world of their kids. They both immigrated from the Volhynia area and were hard working farmers with six children to raise during the depression years in Nebraska.
Pa's mother died when he was an infant. His father soon remarried and he was raised by a strict and cruel stepmother. It was said that she kept the food locked away in the pantry from the children. The oldest brother was so angry at that lock that he took a knife and cut it away so the smaller children could get proper food to eat. Pa always told us that he would never treat his children the way that his stepmother treated him and he never did. The times we were called a schlamassel or a schlameel, we probably deserved it.
From Valerie Renner Ingram
As we kids got older and UNDERSTOOD what she was saying, we would think of answers to use against this remark of hers. About 7 years ago, her sister made her first trip to the United States from Germany for a visit. We had just returned from picking up "Aunt Dora" from the airport, and mom was running around trying to make her feel welcome. Aunt Dora knew that none of us grown children spoke alot of German anymore, but that we could easily understand it. Mom asked if I wanted to stay and eat dinner with them, and I replied "No"....her response of "lec katz im aush" followed and Aunt Dora was stunned! Before I could stop myself I had answered "aw...hund's furtze"...(oh, dog's farts).
My poor aunt just about fell out of her chair!....She came over to me and said "NO, no, no,.....my last name is Holtzfurtner...not hund's furtze!!!!" She thought I was trying to pronounce her last name!!!
From Roland M. Wagner
Most of the variations in kinship terminology seem to focus on the collateral lines -- aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews.
Standard dictionaries list the following terms for "cousin" -- der Vetter, der Cousin (die Cousine), and die Base. "Uncle" is shown as der Onkel, and "aunt" as die Tante.
However, in my dad's dialect (from Rastadt and Muenchen in the Beresan), he always referred to his uncles as "Vetter" (pronounced like "Fedda"), and aunts as "Base." Cousins were collectively referred to as "Cousine," or individually by gender as "Vetterle" (a male cousin, lit. a "little uncle"), or "Baesle" (a female cousin, lit. a "little aunt").
I am curious if others on this list remember how kinship terms were used in their families. What variations do you recall?
From Don Wolf
From Valerie Renner Ingram
It was very confusing to us as we were growing up because we never really knew who was REALLY related to us, and who was just a friend of the family!!
From Allyn Brosz
From Sean McGinnis
This would be the Katharinenstadt dialect, if there is such a thing.
From Roland M. Wagner
There are some interesting variations that translators should be aware of, esp. involving terms for aunts, uncles, and cousins. "Vetter" can mean either "uncle" or "cousin" (and, as Valerie pointed out, it was even applied to friends in some cases). Aunts were referred to either as "Tante" or "Base" ("Wes" is an obvious variant).
Tim Kloberdanz gives a good overview in his master's thesis, which I am supplementing a bit:
Standard German German-Russian Variants Uncle Onkel Vetter; Onkel Aunt Tante Base; Wees; Weesja; Dande Male Cousin Cousin; Vetter Halbbruder; Vetterle Female Cousin Cousine; Base Halbschwester; BaesleTerminology for other relatives (nieces, nephews, siblings, etc.) seems to have been pretty standard in the German colonies, except for affinals (in-laws).
Two of you mentioned an interesting pattern of putting the terms at the end of the name -- "Annawes," "Emmatante," etc. This differs from the way it was done in my family, where terms were always used before the name -- e.g., aunt Magdalena was "Bas Machdlena." Valerie also mentioned that in her family, they had "Vetter Hannes," "Base Anna," etc. Valerie's family came from Speier, and my grandfolks also came from the Beresan colonies, so perhaps that was the predominant pattern in that area.
I recall that it was customary when referring to someone, to put his surname or kin term first, preceded by an article -- e.g., "uncle Ludwig" would be "d' Vedda Ludwig"; my grandfather Adam Wagner was "d' Wachna Adam."
Any other memories about variants in linguistic patterns would be appreciated.