Schnee (schnee) wrote,

Schwippschwager, Schwappschwager, Schwipp-Schwapp-Schwager

More on unusual Verwandtschaftsbeziehungen... the German word for "brother-in-law" is "Schwager", and there's also a word for the sibling or spouse of one of those, namely "Schwippschwager".

Now when I was little, the grown-ups would occasionally speak of not just the "Schwippschwager" but also the "Schwappschwager", supposedly "removed" by one extra degree. Indeed, there was even talk of the "Schwippschwappschwager" (or "Schwipp-Schwapp-Schwager"), though I'm not sure this wasn't in jest. I've been wondering what precisely these mean ever since, so I decided to take a look.

As far as German media go, the Schwappschwager is attested to in Die ZEIT, at least, which writes, in the context of Graeco-Roman mythology:

Manchmal hat man ja schon Mühe, sich die eigenen Verwandten zu merken, die Tanten, Onkels, Schwipp- und Schwappschwager und wie erst die bizarre, von keinem Standesamt je verzeichnete, geschweige denn gebilligte Götterwelt.

Interesting, but not yet helpful. And DWDS has no information on the Schwappschwager beyond the aforementioned ZEIT article.

What about the next one, the Schwipp-Schwapp-Schwager? That one briefly shows up in a self-published book titled "Ritter Anus - das Leben ist ein Donnerbalken"; Google Books has it indexed, and shares the following passage:

Es handelt sich in erschreckender Weise um den Schwipp-Schwapp-Schwager des Barden aus der Burg Hochgemuth, auch er ist ein Barde [...]

It makes a further cameo appearance in e.g. this post in a Spiegel discussion forum; but like Morgenstern's "Stiefmilchbruder", it appears to refer to a comically absurd family relationship rather than an actual one:

Barack Obama ist eigentlich ein Eskimo und dafür hab ich Beweise, weil sich der Schwipp-Schwapp-Schwager eines angeheirateten Vetters dritten Grades, der dazu auch noch mit meiner Großtante liiert ist, ganz, ganz sicher ist.

Checking DWDS again, there is, sadly, no information on the Schwipp-Schwapp-Schwager at all.

But there is a silver lining on the horizon. Light is shed on both these elusive beasts in a 1998 discussion in the newsgroup de.soc.familie.misc where one poster offered the following definitions:

Ein Bruder meiner Frau = Schwager
Die Frau des Bruders meiner Frau = Schwipp-Schwager
Ein Bruder der Frau des Bruders meiner Frau = Schwipp-Schwapp-Schwager

Und anders beleuchtet: Mein Schwipp-Schwager (wie wir jetzt wissen, ist das z.B. der Mann meiner Schwaegerin) und eine meiner Schwaegerinnen (konkret die Frau eines meiner Brueder) sind untereinander -- na? was? -- Schwipp-Schwapp-Schwupp-Schwager/Schwaegerin.

"Schwipp-Schwapp-Schwupp-Schwager". The more you know, eh?

Tags: genealogy, german, linguistics, words

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