Sunday, November 04, 2012

The Bacon of Grief

We all deal with adversity in our own ways — usually by putting something into our bodies, occasionally by taking something out of our bodies and in certain cases by putting something into our bodies and then quickly out and then in and out again and again until the grief is forgotten, at least temporarily.

Here’s a sanitized alternative, regardless of how it might sound.
kummerspeck (KUM-er-speck) — noun: excess weight gained due to emotional eating.
Look, I even found a visual aid. Is this not the best-ever stock photo for illustrating this concept? Thank the scary .ru website that tried to infect my computer!


I’ve used a lower-case “K” and offered what seems like a reasonable English pronunciation simply because this is a fun word to say and it names a familiar concept for which we have no single, tidy word. We should steal it. Kummerspeck comes from the German Kummer, “grief,” and Speck, “lard.” (Note: I previously translated Kummerspeck as “grief bacon,” but Speck apparently means “lard” in German, though it can refer to bacon-like foods in other languages.) We actually use speck in English to refer to a Tyrolese variety of juniper-cured ham, which would sound delicious even if I wasn’t sliding down the garbage chute of misery

If you’ve happened across this word before and you’re neither German and nor suppressing your emotions with a wad of cheesecake, then you’ve probably seen it on those omnipresent listicles that have headlines like “X Crazy Words Other Languages Have!” They are plentiful, to say the least, but I can’t complain, because they’ve generated a few of the words I’ve featured here, including culaccino and slampatado, both of which are as fun to say as kummerspeck is.

Previous words of the week after the jump.

6 comments:

  1. Anonymous12:45 PM

    It's actually pronounced "KUM-er-shpeck." Speck, like most German wordss with a consonant after the "s," is pronounced with a "sh" sound, not an "s" sound.

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    1. Ah. That I did not realize. Thanks for the correction. For the record, though, I was estimating an English pronunciation of the word were it ever to be adopted by my language.

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  2. With all due respect, I am from Germany, and I can tell you that the sense of "Speck" being used in "Kummerspeck" actually means "lard," though I can also mean "bacon" in other senses. But it makes sense that it would mean "lard," because it is referring to gained weight and not actual food.

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    1. And thanks much for this correction. I'll note it in the post.

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  3. Ah, the perfect word for wallowing in my own crapulence.

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    1. Thanks for this comment, by the way. You remind me that I've somehow never posted about the word crapulence.

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