Barksisms in everyday life

Stephan Packard sPackard at
Fri Apr 20 12:35:05 CEST 2001

Hi all,

Donald wrote:

> Aside from being an excellent artist and storyteller, Barks could really
> turn a phrase. Who else uses stuff like that?

This is not exactly what you're asking for, but here's an addition to
the German language that originates in the Disney Comics and has
not only survived translation - which most of the real Barksisms
probably haven't - but was in fact created in the act of translating.

Our language didn't have soundwords. Oh, there was something like
"Bang!" ("Bumm!") and a few more, but it is impossible in German
to simply quote a verb in order to express that something is doing the
act; I mean thins like saying "sigh" instead of sighing etc.

It was, I believe, up to Erika Fuchs, translator of some of the very
first Disney Comics that were introduced to Germany, to create a
completely new grammatical category for our verbs. This new
morphological phenomenon (for those who want to know) leaves off
the "-en" - ending that marks our infinitive, so it is theoretically the
same as the imperative... so the infinitive of "to sigh" in German is
"seufzen", and the imperative is "seufz!" ("sigh! do it! now!").

But the elegance of Fuchs' invention is that she seems to have hit on
an unknown quality in our language, because *nobody* confuses these
new forms with the (identically looking) imperative, and everyone
understands the meaning of "seufz" within prose, ie the person speaking
is actually sighing.

This new form is now in common use, and most people that use and
understand it don't know where it comes from. In all kinds of prose,
in novels, articles, anywhere you might find it; and especially in internet
communication, where there is a real need for such words that reflect
an attitude better than a lengthy description could (similar to smileys),
it is extremely common.


All the best,

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