The Germans have a language that seems a bit like Lego. You can stick lots of little bits together to make a new one that has never existed before. This way they can make all sorts of useful new words from ones they already have lying around.
Here are 4 real German words that should make their way into common usage due to all round Airpiknesch. (literally “epic-ness”, the state of being or achieving epic. Not to be confused with Orschtumn)
(pronounced “versh-lim-BESS-air-oong” )
A supposed improvement that makes things worse.
If any word should be in everyday English use, it is this.
We don’t have a word like this, a neat mental category with a label just waiting to be used to describe a huge amount of work activity. Activity that purports to improve but does the exact opposite.
Imagine how useful it would be to say in five harsh guttural syllables what would otherwise sound like an articulation of pessimistic defeatism. The sheer fact the word exists is an acknowledgement that it describes things that do exist.
We can actually improve the quality of life for ourselves and future generations by introducing this word into common usage, especially amongst planners, designers, bureaucrats and policy makers. Our lives will be better when more people have the presence of mind to say, “Wait a minute! Let’s reconsider this issue. It’s clear that we are planning a Verschlimmbesserung, not an improvement.” [link]
(pronounced “fack-ID-yot” )
An extreme specialist who only knows about their field, and doesn’t know or care about what happens around them
Onomatopoeia is a wonderful thing.
Not only is it virtually unspellable but it allows English-speaking readers of this blog to quickly grasp the meaning of Fachidiot. It sounds like what it is, but the actual literal translation is “subject idiot“. It is someone who knows a lot about a particular field, in a similar way to a one-track specialist. But they are an idiot because a one-track specialist still notices what is going on around him. A Fachidiot simply doesn’t.
“…the exact opposite of a systems thinker, a person who divorces the context and consequences from individual actions.[…] so concentrated on the means they don’t even notice the ends”
Literally, “finger tip feeling”.
The ability to think clearly about many individual complex events and treat them as a whole. To have an understanding of something on multiple levels and how they all mesh. Isn’t this a bit like systems thinking? It’s a lovely Christmassy sounding word to say out loud, and describes an ability that you’d want to find wrapped up under the Christmas tree for you.
Who wouldn’t want…
“a great situational awareness, and the ability to respond most appropriately and tactfully”
Literally “Mission tactics”.
But it doesn’t mean that. It means Think Purpose!
Contradicting the stereotypes, for at least a century the German army gave huge amounts of discretion to it’s soldiers to do what was needed to achieve purpose. They weren’t automatons who blindly followed orders. Instead they were given the “Commander’s Intent” and the freedom to decide how to execute it.
“when the Germans attacked France Colonel Kurt Zeitzler told the assembled subordinated commanders, “Gentlemen, I demand that your divisions completely cross the German borders, completely cross the Belgian borders and completely cross the River Meuse. I don’t care how you do it, that’s completely up to you.”
“The instructions for the American Forces to land in North Africa had the size of a Sears Roebuck shopping catalogue.”
Commander’s Intent gives up central control in place of local decision making by troops who were able and responsible to make their own decisions on the method of achieving the Commander’s Intent. This was because it worked, and the opposite of it, command and control of method, didn’t work.
So next week at work don’t be a Fachidiot, use some Fingerspitzengefühl and whatever you do avoid creating a Verschlimmbesserung.
This page was written 3 years ago, and i forgot all about it, now 8th october 2016, theres LOADS of visitors, seemingly from google. Im being deluged. Could you please pop a note in the comments saying WHY you came here. What were your search terms? Or were you forwarded from somewhere else? I think it was google though.