A language lightbulb moment

August 3rd, 2011

I was writing a poem this morning and I wanted to use the Swiss word for swing in it. Even when they’re speaking English with me, the boys tend to suddenly use the Swiss noun for the swings, so I’ve been using this word for the better part of four years now and have never really thought about it. It’s an odd word, I always think, for a swing and it doesn’t quite intuitively compute for me but I’ve learned it because the boys use it.

Then this morning, for the first time, I wrote it (as best as I could figure, since the spelling rules for Swiss are pretty much: eh, write it how it sounds) and it all made perfect sense to me. Ritigumpfi. Of course. Riti must be derived from reiten, to ride. Gump is jump. Ritigumpfi: ride-jump. What a perfect name for a swing.

4 Responses to “A language lightbulb moment”

  1. CoryQ (funkomatic on twitter) on August 3, 2011 4:37 pm

    That sounds more like a pogo stick to me.

  2. Jennifer on August 4, 2011 7:47 pm

    Oh my, I have no idea what the Swiss for pogo stick might be. I’ll have to ask R when he gets back from the dreaded business trip.

  3. rswb on August 6, 2011 9:42 am

    Ooh, my R calls a swing a Ritiseili (?), which is more along the lines of ride-rope. You’d think the essential element of a swing would be the swinging motion, so it’s odd that no one mentions that.

  4. Jennifer on August 6, 2011 3:57 pm

    Everybody: rswb’s comment highlights why it is so hard for foreigners to learn Swiss-German. We call it “Swiss-German” as if it’s one language, but it’s really about 100 ever so slightly dialekts (or wildly different, depending on how far you go). Seriously, travel 50km and the dialekt changes.

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