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View Full Version : Offensive English translation of Arnold Schwarzenegger's last name?


Rodgers01
11-28-2006, 05:05 PM
With a couple race-related threads running around in other forums, I'm reminded of something I heard whispered in German class long ago: that Arnold Schwarzenegger's last name translates into English roughly as Arnold "Black Negro" or even Arnold "Black Nigger." Is this true? I realize that "Neger" is the normal spelling of the word in German, but is "Negger" an alternate spelling, and wouldn't they be pronounced pretty much the same anyways? So, German dopers, what's the SD on this?

ElvisL1ves
11-28-2006, 05:14 PM
Relevant post: (http://archiver.rootsweb.com/th/read/GEN-DE/1997-08/0871574422)The origin of the surname SCHWARZENEGGER is from a place or topographic
name Schwarzenegg. Egg means "mountain ridge," schwarz means "black, dark."
Place-name surnames are very common. Think of all the -INGER names from
place-names ending in -ingen, the -BERGER names from place-names ending in
-berg, the -BURGER names from place-names ending in -burg, and so on.

This would be analogous to several other names in Austria, Switzerland,
and Alpine areas of Bavaria, such as EMMENEGGER, HONEGGER, HABEGGER, and
some of the just plain EGGERs.

To respond to the unasked question, no, it does not mean "Black Negro"
although Neger is the German word for "Negro." Nor does it mean "black
rake", although Egge is a kind of forked tool (not sure if rake is the
correct translation). That is folk etymology, not the real origin of the name
that has been localized in a mountainous area probably near a place called
Schwarzenegg for centuries.

CurtC
11-28-2006, 05:23 PM
Reminds me of a riddle I heard in the 80s:

Arnold Schwarzenegger's is long and hard. The president's is very short. Madonna doesn't have one, and the Pope has one, but he doesn't use it.

friedo
11-28-2006, 05:30 PM
Arnold Schwarzenegger's is long and hard. The president's is very short. Madonna doesn't have one, and the Pope has one, but he doesn't use it.

PENIS!!!

I bet you thought the answer was "a last name."

Cluricaun
11-28-2006, 05:54 PM
PENIS!!!

I bet you thought the answer was "a last name."

Wrong! It's "thought process."

Anne Neville
11-28-2006, 06:04 PM
PENIS!!!

I bet you thought the answer was "a last name."

You've seen the penises of Schwarzenegger, the President, and the Pope?

Eeeeeewwwwwwww!

anson2995
11-28-2006, 06:06 PM
On the Tonight Show several years ago, Schwarzenegger said that his name means "black plow man". He has repeated that expanation in several other interviews.

jimmmy
11-28-2006, 06:12 PM
I am 99% sure that Schwarzenegger himself told David Letterman sometime back that his name translated as "Black Plowman" the reason I remember this is Letterman's rejoinder:

"So, how do he Kennedys feel about having a Black Plowman in the family?"

Very funny - esp. in context. I have a bunch of google hits on the anecdote, but no first hand GQ worthy one -so no cite sorry.

John Mace
11-28-2006, 06:41 PM
Did you try "ploughman" or "plough man".

Rodgers01
11-28-2006, 06:41 PM
Relevant post: (http://archiver.rootsweb.com/th/read/GEN-DE/1997-08/0871574422)
Perfect answer! Thank you. But I'm curious: is there any discomfort among native German speakers with saying the last name because of what it sounds like, even if there etymological meaning is completely different? In other words, if an American was unfortunate enough to be born with the last name Blacknegro (or, God forbid, Blacknigger), even if the origin of the name had nothing to do with race, they would almost definitely change their name anyways because of how everyone would read it. Any such discomfort with "Schwarzenegger"?

John Mace
11-28-2006, 06:48 PM
Perfect answer! Thank you. But I'm curious: is there any discomfort among native German speakers with saying the last name because of what it sounds like, even if there etymological meaning is completely different? In other words, if an American was unfortunate enough to be born with the last name Blacknegro (or, God forbid, Blacknigger), even if the origin of the name had nothing to do with race, they would almost definitely change their name anyways because of how everyone would read it. Any such discomfort with "Schwarzenegger"?
Well, this guy's (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Niger_Innis) parents didn't seem to care so much.

Monstera deliciosa
11-28-2006, 06:53 PM
I am 99% sure that Schwarzenegger himself told David Letterman sometime back that his name translated as "Black Plowman" the reason I remember this is Letterman's rejoinder:

"So, how do he Kennedys feel about having a Black Plowman in the family?"

Very funny - esp. in context. I have a bunch of google hits on the anecdote, but no first hand GQ worthy one -so no cite sorry.

If corroboration will help, I also saw that exchange with Letterman.

John Mace
11-28-2006, 06:58 PM
Of course, the English and German words for plow derrive from the same source, and the modern German word is pflug, so unless there is a regional Austrian word that is different, I would expect it to be something like pflugmann or pfluger.

kellner
11-28-2006, 07:16 PM
Any such discomfort with "Schwarzenegger"?No, not really. Neger is pronounced with a long /e:/ and doesn't sound that similar. Nigger exists in German, too, but just as in English it is still noticeably different. The syllable boundaries are also in the wrong place. It's Schwarzen-egger, not Schwarze-negger. The "Schwarzen-" is not exactly the correct word form for a standard German phrase meaning "black <something>".

It's also important to note that especially Neger is outdated but not nearly as charged as the relevant terms in America.

Egge isn't a plough but a harrow.

John Mace
11-28-2006, 08:05 PM
Egge isn't a plough but a harrow.
Ah, close enough that I can see where the confusion came from. Most Americans probably wouldn't know what a harrow is.

Why is it Schwarzen and not just Schwarz? Is that pluralized for some reason?

kellner
11-28-2006, 09:05 PM
Why is it Schwarzen and not just Schwarz? Is that pluralized for some reason?Honestly I don't know. One problem is that most place names predate modern "standard" German and dialects differ(ed) significantly.
Other place names contain the same forms. As a complete WAG, perhaps those names started as prepositional phrases: Not "Black Ridge" but "at the black ridge." At least in this case it would fit.

Trim81
07-24-2010, 10:34 PM
Any such discomfort with "Schwarzenegger"?No, not really. Neger is pronounced with a long /e:/ and doesn't sound that similar. Nigger exists in German, too, but just as in English it is still noticeably different. The syllable boundaries are also in the wrong place. It's Schwarzen-egger, not Schwarze-negger. The "Schwarzen-" is not exactly the correct word form for a standard German phrase meaning "black <something>".

It's also important to note that especially Neger is outdated but not nearly as charged as the relevant terms in America.

Egge isn't a plough but a harrow.
Black is for Blacksmith, a person who works with "Black" metals (iron or steel). In this case steel as a spring harrow cannot be made of any other metal of the time (middle ages to 19th century). So we get a harrow made of steel by a blacksmith. Quite an accomplishment and something worthy of naming your family after. Where a plow breaks up the compacted soil a harrow will come afterwards to break up the large clumps or clods that might limit crop growth and the resulting crop yield.

astro
07-25-2010, 01:15 AM
..umlat.. never mind

DHMO
07-25-2010, 05:29 AM
This discussion reminds me of the controversies which ensued because people were too stupid to look up the definition and etymology of the word, "niggardly (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Controversies_about_the_word_%22niggardly%22)."

bucketybuck
07-25-2010, 06:01 AM
PENIS!!!

I bet you thought the answer was "a last name."

You've seen the penises of Schwarzenegger, the President, and the Pope?

Eeeeeewwwwwwww!

I've seen Madonna's...

naita
07-25-2010, 06:10 AM
Black is for Blacksmith, a person who works with "Black" metals (iron or steel). In this case steel as a spring harrow cannot be made of any other metal of the time (middle ages to 19th century). So we get a harrow made of steel by a blacksmith. Quite an accomplishment and something worthy of naming your family after. Where a plow breaks up the compacted soil a harrow will come afterwards to break up the large clumps or clods that might limit crop growth and the resulting crop yield.

Do you have any evidence supporting that theory, rather than the one in the first reply? You know, the one that actually matches the etymological patterns of other germanic names and has the benefit of being able to point to lots of places in Austria and Switzerland called Schwarzenegg?

Jim's Son
07-25-2010, 06:11 AM
This discussion reminds me of the controversies which ensued because people were too stupid to look up the definition and etymology of the word, "niggardly (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Controversies_about_the_word_%22niggardly%22)."

Or a few years ago when PETA tried to get the town of Fishkill, NY to change their name because "killing fish was wrong". The locals responded "kill" is derived from the Dutch settlers who found the area and translates as "stream". So essentially it means "Fish in stream". The PETA person whined "How are people supposed to know that"? Earth to PETA: Take your head out of your rear end. The only dumb question is the one you don't ask.

Maserschmidt
07-25-2010, 06:53 AM
Reminds me of a riddle I heard in the 80s:

Arnold Schwarzenegger's is long and hard. The president's is very short. Madonna doesn't have one, and the Pope has one, but he doesn't use it.

Madonna has one, but like the Pope she doesn't use it. So there's ONE thing they have in common.

Malacandra
07-25-2010, 08:51 AM
Harrow is also the name of a famous public school (English for "private school"), whence the following conversation reported in a Victorian book I read once...

A: Do you know C?
B: Of course! Him and me were at Harrow together.
(later)
A: What say you, D?
D: Well, perhaps B was a Harrow boy, but he certainly talks more like a plough boy. :dubious:

Leo Bloom
07-25-2010, 06:19 PM
I was always embarrassed to say "that's a nice coon dog you got there" at the dog park. Like that Fishkill/PETA exam cited above. PETA ish, I know. There's a raccoon and a nip in the air.

Götterfunken
07-25-2010, 07:40 PM
I am 99% sure that Schwarzenegger himself told David Letterman sometime back that his name translated as "Black Plowman" the reason I remember this is Letterman's rejoinder:

"So, how do he Kennedys feel about having a Black Plowman in the family?"

Very funny - esp. in context. I have a bunch of google hits on the anecdote, but no first hand GQ worthy one -so no cite sorry.Here's proof (http://youtube.com/watch?v=_ev6zeR8MgM) that your memory (and mine--I recall seeing the original broadcast) is correct--Arnold starts talking about the pronunciation and meaning of "Schwarzenegger" around 3:19, and Dave cracks his joke almost a minute after that.

ETA: this was from a 1987 episode of Late Night with David Letterman.

Hari Seldon
07-25-2010, 10:08 PM
I shouldn't get involved in something I know nothing about, so treat this as a WAG. Switzerland has a number of place names that end in "egg" (pronounced "ek" and it was explained to me that it means "corner", like High German "Ecke". So Waldegg means the corner of the woods, or some such. I suppose it could mean "furrow". Probably it is related to "edge". "Schwarzen" is surely a dative form, not a plural. So it could mean an inhabitant (that's the final "-er") of the town at the black corner

naita
07-26-2010, 05:40 AM
I shouldn't get involved in something I know nothing about, so treat this as a WAG. Switzerland has a number of place names that end in "egg" (pronounced "ek" and it was explained to me that it means "corner", like High German "Ecke". So Waldegg means the corner of the woods, or some such. I suppose it could mean "furrow". Probably it is related to "edge". "Schwarzen" is surely a dative form, not a plural. So it could mean an inhabitant (that's the final "-er") of the town at the black corner

As the first reply states, the word, in geographical context, means mountain ridge. But it is indeed related to edge.

cochrane
07-26-2010, 05:59 AM
I am 99% sure that Schwarzenegger himself told David Letterman sometime back that his name translated as "Black Plowman" the reason I remember this is Letterman's rejoinder:

"So, how do he Kennedys feel about having a Black Plowman in the family?"

Very funny - esp. in context. I have a bunch of google hits on the anecdote, but no first hand GQ worthy one -so no cite sorry.Here's proof (http://youtube.com/watch?v=_ev6zeR8MgM) that your memory (and mine--I recall seeing the original broadcast) is correct--Arnold starts talking about the pronunciation and meaning of "Schwarzenegger" around 3:19, and Dave cracks his joke almost a minute after that.

ETA: this was from a 1987 episode of Late Night with David Letterman.I have no cite for this, as it is from memory. I was watching Arsenio Hall and Arnold was his guest. Aresenio asked him what Schwarzenegger means in English, and of course Arnie told him, "Black Plowman." Arsenio then wrapped his arms around Arnold and cried out, "Brother!" This was in 1993 or 1994, as I also remember Arsenio asking if there was going to be a third Terminator film, to which Arnold replied, "Yeah. It's going to be called 'Sperminator 3: I Come Again.'" :D

what do I type here
07-27-2010, 02:35 PM
Egge isn't a plough but a harrow.
Ah, close enough that I can see where the confusion came from. Most Americans probably wouldn't know what a harrow is.

Why is it Schwarzen and not just Schwarz? Is that pluralized for some reason?

I know this was posted four years ago but I speculate that Schwarzen is the adjective form of Schwarz. But then I don't know why it's Schwarzschild and not Schwarzenschild.

I always feel funny responding to old threads. I mean Old Mace posted this four years ago. He could be dead by now for all I know. It's like looking at naked pictures of Anna Nicole Smith.

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