Wieners, Frankfurters, Hamburgers and German Naming Conventions Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

Wieners, Frankfurters, Hamburgers and German Naming Conventions

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Languages in general can be a peculiar thing. German, in particular, can be very peculiar indeed - or at least, to the foreign ear.

This short entry deals with a specific aspect of the German language: the use of the names of towns in everyday speech and how this can confuse the non-native speaker.

The Wiener, the Frankfurter and the Hamburger - but not the Berliner

Before any readers from the USA start to snigger, it should be pointed out that German convention refers to the inhabitants of a town by the name of that town with a suffix of 'er'. Thus someone who lives in Wien (Vienna) is called a Wiener. A Frankfurter, therefore is not a sausage but someone from Frankfurt. Hamburgers, likewise are not beefburgers in a bun but people who hail from the northern city of Hamburg.

The Truth About Berliners

Berliners1, however, are what non-Germans would call a doughnut (jam filled, rather than ring-shaped). Berliner is short for Berliner Pfannekuchen (Berlin Pancake).

It is a modern misconception that Germans fall about with laughter whenever the 1962 film of Kennedy's famous 'Ich bin ein Berliner' speech of solidarity with the inhabitants of the western portion of the divided city is shown. In fact close examination of footage of this event, reveals that the crowd do laugh. But only because JFK thanked his translator for also translating that part of his speech.

And That's Not All...

Krefeld is an industrial city, which lies on the Rhein River in Nordrhein Westfalen. Rather than being an epithet for its inhabitants, Krefelder is the name given to a drink comprising Altbier2 and cola in equal quantities. It is an acquired taste.

The Trend Goes International

Krakauer3 is the name given to a fried sausage - very tasty with some sweet mustard.

You might be forgiven for thinking that it would be more than impolite to take a bite out of an Amerikaner. Not so - given that it is a round, flattish, iced, cake-like substance. Again, these are an acquired taste. Although nobody can give any good reason for wishing to taste one, it could also be said there's no conclusive argument not to.

Note: it is not all about food and drink. You would be very ill advised indeed to sink your teeth into a Pariser, which is a slang term for a condom.

1In some parts of Germany a Berliner is called a Krapfen (or Kräppel or Kräbbl or something equally odd deriving from Krapfen).2Altbier is dark beer, more like a British bitter than the lager-like Pils.3Krakau is the German name for Krakow, Poland.

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