My chosen word for this newsletter is…
der Hund – the dog – plural Hunde
It’s a good Germanic word – hond in Dutch, hund in the Scandinavian languages and in old English, hundur in Icelandic.
In modern English, hound has a different meaning and use from dog, whose etymology is a mystery.
The noun Hund is masculine, whether or not the animal is biologically male or female.
When you refer to a dog you can use ‘er’ if male and ‘sie’ if female.
Hündin is used for female dog. It has a derogatory meaning like an English word beginning with b- but not as strong.
There are many expressions from the days when dogs were Arbeitstiere – working animals and not Haustiere – pets.
Es war eine Hundearbeit – It was a very unpleasant and strenuous job.
Man geht vor die Hunde. – similar to English – to go to the dogs.
Hund is seen in many other compound words:
der Hundeführer = dog walker
die Hundebadestelle = a bathing place for dogs
die Hunderasse is the normal word for dog breed, also
die Hundeart = breed of dog
Here are a few more expressions with Hund
aufpassen wie ein Schießhund – to pay attention like a shooting dog
In German there is an intriguing word for what you have to do with your dog every day:
Man muss mindestens dreimal pro Tag Gassi gehen.
It’s rather like ‘to go for walkies’ and is very common.
As for the origin, many people say it comes from die Gasse – alley. So Gassi gehen means you take the dog out into the alley.
But according to one source, that’s wrong.
It is said to derive from Latin grassari means to march, advance, run riot.
That word morphed into a parody expression popular among students in the 19th century ‘gassatine gehen’ which means ‘to go out on a drunken binge’.
Dog owners adopted the expression in an ironic way, giving us Gassi gehen.
My source here is a book called ‘Es geht um die Wurst’ by Wolfgang Seidel, about the origins of German words. I’m going to order a copy.
Man muss den Hund Gassi führen.
You can also say:
Ich gehe mit dem Hund spazieren.
Ich muss den Hund ausführen.
In English there is the word puppy, in German:
der Welpe – it’s masculine and it adds an n in the Accusative, Dative, Genitive and in the plural.
Ich habe einen Welpen – I have a puppy.
Ich musste mit dem Welpen Gassi gehen – I had to go for a walk with the puppy.
Die Hündin hatte drei Welpen = the dog (female) had three puppies.
If you’re thinking of Gassi gehen, don’t forget your Kotbeutel! and watch out for the sign:
Hunde sind an der Leine zu führen = Dogs are to be kept on a lead/leash.
That reminds me of how dogs were used – or should I say misused – missbraucht – by the East German government on the former inner German border. These Trassenhunde – were tied to a leash within the ‘death strip’ and left for hours with no human contact. Their job: To catch people trying to escape East Germany. After the Wende, most of these dogs were found new homes all over Germany.
The many meanings of Hund and related words are endlos, but I’ll finish with a colourful expression.n
Bekannt wie ein bunter Hund – ‘as well known as a colourful dog’, to be famous in your local area, so famous that everyone comes up to you and says hello. See my drawing below!
Bis zum nächsten Mal!