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Andrew Maxwell




Location: New Zealand
Joined: 03 May 2009

Posts: 90

PostPosted: Tue 16 Jun, 2009 3:47 pm    Post subject: (German) Terminology questions         Reply with quote

Hi all,

just a few quick questions about renaissance messers-

1. Which is correct, grosse messer (large knife) or grosses messer (great knife)? Or are the two used interchangeably?

2. Is the larger version a kriegmesser or a kriegsmesser?

3. Is a long knife correctly langes messer, lange messer, langem messer?

My German is essentially non-existant so my apologies if any of those are badly (or humourously) wrong.
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Percival Koehl




Location: Vancouver, Canada
Joined: 05 Jun 2009

Posts: 14

PostPosted: Tue 16 Jun, 2009 5:07 pm    Post subject: Re: (German) Terminology questions         Reply with quote

Andrew Maxwell wrote:
Hi all,

just a few quick questions about renaissance messers-

1. Which is correct, grosse messer (large knife) or grosses messer (great knife)? Or are the two used interchangeably?

2. Is the larger version a kriegmesser or a kriegsmesser?

3. Is a long knife correctly langes messer, lange messer, langem messer?

My German is essentially non-existant so my apologies if any of those are badly (or humourously) wrong.



German has grammatical case endings, so the endings on a noun or adjective will change depending on how the word is used in a sentence and whether or not it is accompanied by an article or personal pronoun. When talking about one of these weapons in English, you should probably use the nominative form (I do the same with other inflected languages: Latin, Greek and Old English/Anglo-Saxon). The word Messer is neuter, so grosses Messer and langes Messer would be correct in Modern German at any rate. The plural forms would be grosse Messer and lange Messer. Of course, the language was not standardised back in the Renaissance, so the gender of Messer may have varied across dialects and grammatical conventions. I'm not sure about the common form of Krieg(s)messer, although a number of other (Modern) German compound words have Kriegs- as the first element, including another weapon/tool, das Kriegsbeil 'hatchet, tomahawk'.

'A knight indifferent to a lady's honour has lost his own.'
-Chrétien de Troyes (fl. 1180), Percival or the Tale of the Grail
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Andreas Auer




Location: Innsbruck, Tirol, Austria, Europe
Joined: 15 Dec 2006
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Reading list: 11 books

Posts: 122

PostPosted: Wed 17 Jun, 2009 12:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Percival is right: in most circumstances here (without teaching you German grammatics) it would be

großes Messer
langes Messer

where the first word is an adjective witch is written with a small beginning letter. And the second is a noun, witch has to be written with a large beginning letter

Kriegsmesser

this is a composite noun witch also is written with a large beginning letter.

any more questions?

andreas

The secret is,
to keep that pointy end thingy away from you...
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Max W.




Location: South Germany
Joined: 01 Mar 2009

Posts: 22

PostPosted: Wed 17 Jun, 2009 1:46 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I very much agree to the posts above.

But it's important to point out, that the german manuscripts are written in Mittelhochdeutsch.
That's the medieval predecessor of todays regulated german language.

And back then, as Percival already mentioned, there were no such rules how a certain word is written.
Those few people that could write, wrote down the words how they translated them into letters.
And every writer had it's own interpretation, how the sound of a word is to be translated, depending of region and origin of the writer.

So if you ask for a precise correct form, we have to use nowadays german. And it very much depends on the surrounding sentence, what form you need.
I'm neither willing to get deep into german grammatics, since i know everyone learning german is ripping his hair out over that stuff, but a few examples for all that variety won't be bad:

For example:

Ein (one) grosses/langes Messer. (thats how a description plate in a museum would read)
Mit dem (with the) grossen/langen Messer.
Mehrere (many) grosse/lange Messer. (attention, no "s" for plural at the end of Messer)

So if you want to create an odd german/english mixed sentence:

-Today i sparred with my grossem Messer.
-Dont bring a grosses Messer to school!
-Several grosse Messer had been examinated.

But, i for myself would recommend translating the Messer to a literally large knife, everything else sounds a bit clumsy. Maybe the same clumsyness as my english here. Honestly, i don' t think it's really important to write it correct especially in a mixed sentence, just for the occassional german maybe reading it. And due to the grammar as shown above, it would be a damn difficult job too, not worth the trouble.

On the other hand, dedicated terms for techniques like the Zornhau, should in all respect, kept like they are.
Who would come to the idea of using english translations for some serious asian martial arts?
The same respect should be granted for this almost forgotten art. Wrath strike...wrathful strike... just...no. Not the real deal. Escpecially when striving for authenticy.

Hum, maybe i should work some... colleagues are already suspicious!
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Andrew Maxwell




Location: New Zealand
Joined: 03 May 2009

Posts: 90

PostPosted: Thu 18 Jun, 2009 2:37 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks, that makes rather more sense now.

We did consider using the term knife instead of Messer, but it is too vague in English- I suppose Messer is just as vague in German but it is specific in English, because it's only used to refer to one type of weapon, not knives in general (if that makes sense). We basically only use it in one context anyway, so don't really need to learn the various permutations Happy

We do, of course, use the terms like Zwerchhau, Krumphau etc in longsword practice, though our pronunciation is probably appalling Laughing Out Loud

Oh, and I didn't realise about the capitalisation, in English only proper nouns are capitalised.

cheers
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Dirk R. Festerling




Location: Dortmund, Germany
Joined: 19 Jun 2009

Posts: 1

PostPosted: Fri 19 Jun, 2009 6:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Max W. wrote:

[...]So if you ask for a precise correct form, we have to use nowadays german. And it very much depends on the surrounding sentence, what form you need. [...]


Adding to the Confusion, nowadays german still has regional differences.
Still:
1. Which is correct, grosse messer (large knife) or grosses messer (great knife)? Or are the two used interchangeably?

Grosse Messer will always be wrong for a single knife. Knifes have never been female in any professional or regional german subculture i happen to know (and i´m supposed to know a lot ;-) ). usually blade weapons are neuter, but there are male ones. currently i´m thinking of extremely phallic ones, the Hirschfänger and the Bi(den)händer.
the only german female blades i can think of now are the sickle and scythe. This includes their combat versions.
non-bladed weapons are a lot more gender flexible: e.g. clubs are female, truncheons male.
you can´t even be sure that farming tools are female, like sickle and scythe might propose: (war) flails are male.
the good old sax was used in male and neuter form.

2. Is the larger version a kriegmesser or a kriegsmesser?

Almost all german writers, alive or long dead, used Kriegsmesser. Contemporary southern germans and expecially austrians tend to use additional "s" more often, e.g. the austrian and swiss "Zugsführer" as title for certain NCOs and railway personnel, where we northerners use "Zugführer".

3. Is a long knife correctly langes messer, lange messer, langem messer?

Langes Messer and langem Messer are both correct in their grammatical context, using just the nominative form "Langes Messer", like Percival supposed, is smarter for non-native speakers ;-).
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