Archive for English

On Balls

For some reason male genitalia came up a couple of times in the past week, so I might as well share what I learned about German balls and repeat my plea for not only the acceptance, but the embrace of the word ballsack.

On Wimpsthe Weak Balled

The author of some book claimed that German has no word for wimp. Someone else replied that Weichei carries the load perfectly, but that it’s not something you’d put on the cover of a children’s book. I wondered why, because “I always thought it referred to how easy it is to break an egg: a metaphorical reference to how easy it would be to break a Weichei’s confidence.” As it turns out, because Eier doubles as slang for testicles in German, it actually means as much as weak ball(s).

This misunderstanding might’ve occurred because “In Dutch there’s the expression een zacht eitje. Saying ‘he’s a soft egg’ means ‘he’s a wuss/wimp,’ and there’s another usage, ‘it’s a soft egg,’ meaning ‘it’s a piece of cake’ (as in ‘it’s easy,’ but translating an idiom with another certainly seems more appropriate).”

On Ballsacks

A few days later, someone remarked that they felt embarrassed because their kid used the word “ball sac [sic].” I replied,

Ballsack is a perfectly ordinary Germanic word for a part of the male anatomy. Some people seem to prefer the Latinate scrotum, but I disprefer it. In Dutch as well as German the respective words balzak and Hosensack (lit. pants bag or perhaps more appropriately, pants sack) are perfectly ordinary words, and indeed the standard words for referring to the ballsack. If anything, saying scrotum carries negative connotations in Dutch. As a fellow speaker of a Germanic language, I implore you not to continue this treachery and disrespect toward our ancestors and to proudly scream ballsack from the roofs!

While a humorous veil covers what I wrote, I’m hardly kidding.


Semantic Concord in American English

The number of X are, when X is semantically referring to individuals rather than a group as a whole. Just when that is the case, however, is not as straightforward as it sounds.