Miscellany 002

Well, there’s something I’ve learned from coming to live in Ilmenau! Last night we had a walk on the Heyda side as it was nearer our work than the Kickelhahn to the south. And as I predicted, we found cow-wheat (melampyrum) – in fact wood cow-wheat (Hainwachtelweizen, m. nemorosum) – along a fence where I had seen it in the past

Even more wonderful, the autumn crocuses were to be found, too, on the fringe of a reed bed where I had had such difficulty in the spring of 2005 working out what the strange plump seed capsules could be. Haven’t got a camera organised yet in support of this blog but here are some “commons” photos.

As you get older it’s probably less likely you’ll discover new plants on exploratory walks. Last night reconciled me (how I need to be reconciled!) a little to the fact of my “anno domini”, reminding me that the years have at least brought some accumulated if very miscellaneous knowledge!

When the Wachtelweizen and the Herbstzeitlose had delivered the satisfaction of a prediction fulfilled, there was an additional delight in store for us. A lone gentian! Before I came to Ilmenau I would have never recognised one on sight.

I think I saw my first on a return visit from here to Poole in Dorset… and as the Dorset coast is fossiliferous and the Veronikaberg’s limestone rock bears the special name “Muschelkalk” I am reminded again of the expression “indicative weed”. That term I learned many years ago in relation to Pennine landscapes (Bradford WEA courses – I throw in the detail in case there are people out there who want to share their memories…).

I haven’t “borrowed” a picture of a blue gentian as I felt obliged to research the name and so found out that it could have been gentianella germanica or ciliata. Thinks: should I be less obsessive so that miscellanising takes less time? Answers self: probably not if you want to keep up your reputation as a translator! TTFN

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At last!

First, the usual British apology for what has probably not been seen by anybody as remiss… but if you have previously clicked on the link that brings you here and found no entries – “I’m sorry!” (says Susan Kubitz, in case you’ve already forgotten whose website brought you here…)

I’m not sure whether “web-log” and the shortened form, blog, is really what this will be. Logging is recording, usually at frequent intervals, so that the current position (originally the speed of the ship at sea, found by the length of a rope run out in a certain time attached to a ship’s log which was thrown overboard) and thus the reasons for any alteration in course can always be found written down.

Boring, I imagine, for most readers! At least as far as the log of a small-time working linguist’s life is concerned. Over the summer my log would have been of a series of thoughts about non-existence of holidays and how to reorganise so that I could act my age a bit more without giving up the linguist’s life. One long holiday, i.e. retirement, still does not appeal! So to show that the thoughts led somewhere the first blog entry now appears – but it comes under the old Guardian (in fact, Manchester Guardian) title.


The Lebkuchen (gingerbread biscuits, traditional Advent fare) are already laid out in our local Aldi, so here first is a thought for the Advent Season: an entry aimed at teachers of German in Britain or other English-speaking places. Read on also if you are a Christmas market aficionado.

Erfurt Weihnachtsmarkt is something special, a really Christmassy market.  Erfurt itself is special, too (seat of Thüringen parliament, recent rediscovery of Old Synagogue and treasure hidden at the time of scapegoating of Jews for the Plague, buildings dating likewise back to 14th century…). So if you visit you will find things educational as well as beautiful – not to mention all the adjectives that attach to a Weihnachtsmarkt with hot roasted almonds, glühwein, bratwurst,  fairytale tableaux, woodcarving stalls, the dodgems and a big wheel.

There is (of course) a commercial angle – my small staff (Kirsten Recke and Thomas Birth) are keen to help on all projects that would help them continue my small business with less admin input from me as I get older and want just to do the things for which I’m sine qua non. If you’re interested in coming to the Weihnachtsmarkt ask them for any little language services. If you would like to have a trip to this part of the woods and learn some more German while you’re here – again, just ask. If your German comprehension is up to it, they could write in German (for speed) and you could write in English (ditto). If you need them to write to you in English, that’s fine.

Now back to my blogging – or, rather, miscellanising. If you are visiting the website as an advanced but non-native speaker of English in the Ilmenau area, here is a nugget of information for you… on Sept 22nd you can go panning for gold at Katzhütte. Did you get the pun?

On Sept 8th I met the man who found a real nugget, almost 10 grams in weight, a few years ago. And here is a video I’ve found with a description in English of the technique I tried to learn from him – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IInfGO-tOgg – TTFN.

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