Schnee (schnee) wrote,


From the "rare-gems-unearthed" department — a mention, in passing, of one of the most remarkable words I've heard in a long time, "Katzenkristierer":

klystierer, m. subst. zu vor., eigenthümlich in farbenklistierer Fischart groszm. 78 (Sch. 608), zwischen metallenketzer und mercuriusplager genannt, also von alchymisterei. es erklärt sich wol aus klystieren 2, angewandt wie ketzern 4 (vgl.gemartert wein, gefälschter Alb. Nn 2b). noch bair. kristierer, katzenkristierer, quälgeist, quäler.

I'm at a loss for words, I really am.

EDIT: in case you're wondering how I chanced upon this one in the first place, I was talking to a friend about Mozart's Bäsle-Briefe[1], specifically the part where he writes:

Also kommen sie gewis, sonst ist ein schys; ich werde alsdan in eigner hoherperson ihnen Complimentiren, ihnen den arsch Petschieren, ihre hände küssen, mit der hintern büchse schiessen, ihnen Embrassiren, sie hinten und vorn kristiren, ihnen, was ich ihnen etwa alles schuldig bin, haarklein bezahlen, und einen wackeren furz lassen erschallen, und vielleicht auch etwas lassen fallen.[2]

Several of these words are not in common use anymore; "petschieren" apparently roughly translates to "to close/mark with a seal", but "kristieren" had me puzzled. When looking it up in the Brothers Grimm's dictionary (which identified it as a variant of "klistieren", I came across the above entry and aforementioned word.

  1. Regarding Mozart's letters, there's a funny bit in P.D.Q. Bach and Peter Schickele's[3] The Jekyll and Hyde Tour, specifically the "Introduction to the Four Next-To-Last Songs", a spoken interlude in which the following bit of dialogue occurs:

    Peter Schickele: Now those of you who have read Mozart's letters — how many have read the complete letters of Mozart?
    Audience: *talking, clapping; apparently quite a few hands go up*
    Peter Schickele: Yeah right.

    He goes on to talk about how Mozart's letters were often rather scatological in nature, contrasting 18th-century German/Austrian off-color humor (scatological) with contemporary US-American/English off-color humor (sexual), which is quite interesting; as for Mozart's letters, anyhow, they're indeed not as well-known as you might think. For instance, Wikipedia, in its article on Mozart and scatology (yes, that actually exists) relates the following anecdote, apparently quoted from "Hall's preface to Amadeus (Shaffer 1981)":

    For example, when Margaret Thatcher was apprised of Mozart's scatology during a visit to the theater to see Peter Shaffer's famous play Amadeus, director Peter Hall relates: "She was not pleased. In her best headmistress style, she gave me a severe wigging for putting on a play that depicted Mozart as a scatological imp with a love of four-letter words. It was inconceivable, she said, that a man who wrote such exquisite and elegant music could be so foul mouthed". I said that Mozart's letters proved he was just that: he had an extraordinarily infantile sense of humour ... "I don't think you heard what I said," replied the Prime Minister. "He couldn't have been like that." I offered (and sent) a copy of Mozart’s letters to Number Ten the next day; I was even thanked by the appropriate Private Secretary. But it was useless: the Prime Minister said I was wrong, so wrong I was."

    Of course, one could also say that this simply says about Thatcher: first, she hoots her mouth off talking about things she doesn't know anything about, and then she refuses to acknowledge that she was wrong. OTOH, what's a baroness to do when a dirty commoner gets uppity, right?

  2. For the benefit of those who're not sufficiently well-versed in the German language, I'll reproduce here a translation that Wikipedia quotes from Solomon's Mozart: A Life:

    Come for a bit or else I'll shit. If you do, this high and mighty person will think you very kind, will give you a smack behind, will kiss your hands, my dear, shoot off a gun in the rear, embrace you warmly, mind, and wash your front and behind, pay you all his debts to the uttermost groat, and shoot off one with a rousing note, perhaps even let something drop from his boat.

    Not quite as funny, but it preserves both meaning and rhyme.

  3. You may recall Schickele from when I last mentioned him.

Tags: linguistics, music, words
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