Thursday, April 06, 2017

Erklärungsnot and Extrawunsch

Today it is Germany that is making an overwhelming contribution to this post. Maybe I should learn German to find the other gems hidden within it.



So the first word I want to share is Erklärungsnot, literally Explanation poverty. This is what happens when someone demands an explanation, and you drill through the cavernous recesses of your mind and come up with – nothing.

It is the one thing that unites cheating marrieds and singles alike with school children who forgot to do their homework, and politicians, pretty much all the time.

Eons ago, when I was a school girl myself, I occasionally found myself in an Erklärungsnot situation. In Grade 8, a teacher told us to get our progress reports signed by a parent.

I asked my mother to do it, and she told me to remind her later when she wasn’t busy, and the later never came, and so it was only when I reached school that I remembered that I was in for some unpleasantness.

As it turned out, unpleasantness was an understatement.

The teacher was a sadistic monster. Back then, there were no rules against teachers beating students, and this one was in her element.

She announced that all those who had neglected to get their parents’ signatures should stand by her desk. About 8 of us stood solemnly. When it was my turn, she demanded an explanation. And I experienced acute Erklärungsnot.

The teacher rapped me twice on the knuckles with a wooden ruler and sent me back to my seat.

Through the haze of tears that threatened to spill out, I found that Mum had signed my progress report after all.

I actually wished I could go back and hand the teacher the two raps I had not deserved.

Then again no child deserves to be hit like that.

Have you ever experienced Erklärungsnot?


The second word that I’d like to see English welcome is the German Extrawunsch, which describes a person who slows things down by being extra fussy, leading to simple tasks and activities being unnecessarily delayed and complicated.


Weddings typically draw the Extrawunsch populace out. They want extra pampering, and nothing is good enough for them. Often they threaten to over-shadow the bridal couple. It is only the demands of hospitality that prevent the host from throttling the pesky Extrawunsch.

Ever met an Extrawunsch?



14 comments:

  1. I have a friend who is an extrawunsch. Of course, I have another name for her, lol.

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    1. I know some too. The trouble is most extrawunsches don't seem to understand that their behaviour isn't right. Or maybe they don't care, and behave like that to annoy us.

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    2. I had not heard from the friend I mentioned since November. And then yesterday she called me. Do you think she knew I was talking about her?

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    3. If she did, then it could mean two things. Either, as they say, the Universe is getting her to amend her ways, or the second, she must be reading my blog. :)

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  2. I have encountered many a extrawunsch mainly in family functions! That pesky old uncle who can never be satisfied by the quality of food or the grandma who knows too much tradition and cannot be appeased.
    And the incident with the school teacher is a sad one. Thankfully, think our schools do not allow physical punishment anymore
    E for Education for all

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    1. Yes, Namy, there is something about family functions that brings them out crawling from the woodwork. All Extrawunsch people have a huge sense of entitlement.

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  3. Hi Cynthia - I definitely get explanation poverty quite often - ah well ... and then extrawunsch - those are not my favourite people ... fun words though ... I'm enjoying these ... cheers Hilary

    http://positiveletters.blogspot.co.uk/2017/04/e-is-for-extinct-animals-and-endangered.html

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    1. Hilary, only die-hard liars never ever experience Erklarungsnot; the rest of us face it now and then, and it is good to know there is a word for it.
      As for Extrawunsch, I lose my patience around them soon enough.

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  4. Cynthia your posts are so entertaining. I'm sure I've had many Erklärungsnot moments but one doesn't come to mind right now - there you go an Erklärungsnot moment right here.

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    1. Thank you, Suzy. Ha, ha, you've used it in a sentence; it'll be a part of your vocabulary before long.

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  5. Oooh, I have definitely encountered the second... :D In Hungarian we say "De sok baja van magának" which about means "You have a whole lot of problems, don't you..." :D Usually said when someone fusses over small things and slows progress down.

    The Multicolored Diary: WTF - Weird Things in Folktales

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    1. Thank you, Zalka. I shall make a note of the phrase you've taught me. There is a delicate hint of sarcasm in it that is perfect for when you meet an Extrawunsch.

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  6. I think there's an example of the second in my house, maybe two of them. I blame their mother. She spoils them rotten. ;)

    E is for Experiment: Turning the USS Eldridge Invisible

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    1. Oh, no, Tamara, our own offspring are exempt from being Extrawunsch, at least while they are young. Maybe when they are older, we could revisit this thought.
      My in-laws are turning my son into an Extrawunsch too. I fight it every chance I get.

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