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Arne Focke
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PostPosted: Mon 28 Aug, 2006 6:18 am    Post subject: Help with a translation needed ...         Reply with quote

Does anyone know the correct translation of the old german profession "Schwerdtfeger"? This was a person who polished blades and often also fitted the handle.
All my dictionaries abandon me here. Confused

Thanks in advance.

So schön und inhaltsreich der Beruf eines Archäologen ist, so hart ist auch seine Arbeit, die keinen Achtstundentag kennt! (Wolfgang Kimmig in: Die Heuneburg an der oberen Donau, Stuttgart 1983)
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Nate C.




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PostPosted: Mon 28 Aug, 2006 12:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Are you sure this is the correct spelling? I can find Schwert = Sword but cannot find anything close to feger that makes sense.

Cheers,

Nate C.

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Torsten F.H. Wilke




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PostPosted: Mon 28 Aug, 2006 12:27 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Arne, I'm assuming that you are a fellow German, which leads me to believe that you know the meaning of the word "feger". For you Englishers out there, the literal translation is "sweeper". I can only guess that the English equivalent of the entire word may be "sword-fitter" or "finisher". The latter is not just meant in the context of giving the sword a good finish (polish), but in the context of doing the general final (fit and finish) work. These terms are probably not industry correct for a historic time period, but just hypothetical extrapolations from current general american-English work-place usage. My thoughts at least, even though they may be entirely off-target. Guten Tag...
Quote:
" Wen das Geld im Kasten klingt, die Seele aus dem Fegefeuer springt!"
old Catholic saying, which helped them kill off the Huguenots...


Last edited by Torsten F.H. Wilke on Tue 29 Aug, 2006 10:54 am; edited 2 times in total
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Felix Wang




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PostPosted: Mon 28 Aug, 2006 12:35 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In this case, the closest English approximation is probably "cutler". His work is, strictly speaking, the hiltwork and not the blade; but I don't recall that English has a specific recognized profession of blade cleaning alone; and the cutler was likely the last craftsman to work on a sword prior to handing it over to its eventual owner.
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Ralph Rudolph




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PostPosted: Mon 28 Aug, 2006 1:35 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Arne,
what he does is "grinding", however I do not know if there was the profession of a "grinder" in former times. It probably was done by the smith, who delivered the blade ready-made to the cutler.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't the "Schwerdtfeger" the guy who sharpened the nicked blades after a fight at war for the noble masters?

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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Mon 28 Aug, 2006 1:38 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I am under the impression that Schwerdtfeger means "sword cleaner" or one who refits, refinishes, or otherwise refurbishes swords.
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Arne Focke
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PostPosted: Mon 28 Aug, 2006 2:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The discussion is going a little bit into a false direction.
The term "Schwerdtfeger", or in modern spelling "Schwertfeger", is not the problem. It was the name for a blacksmith who did the last finishing touches to a blade (grinding & assembling). In short the German term is perfectly clear.
For those who are interested: It consists of the German word for sword = Schwert (obviously), and the word "fegen", which is cleaning with a broom for the modern ear, but it must have been just another word for cleaning in "the old days".

I was just searching for a similar standing term in English for the new version of our site, which will be uploaded in the few days. If none of you know such a standing term, we will have to circumscribe it then.
But thanks for your help. Happy

So schön und inhaltsreich der Beruf eines Archäologen ist, so hart ist auch seine Arbeit, die keinen Achtstundentag kennt! (Wolfgang Kimmig in: Die Heuneburg an der oberen Donau, Stuttgart 1983)
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Mon 28 Aug, 2006 2:39 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have a hunch that there's not a word this specialized in English. It's just a guess, though. It seems to me that German has many long, detailed compound words to distinguish between things/actions. Maybe not so much in English. "Cutler" probably would be the general term, although if the work is not highly skilled it might be done by someone not quite of the status of the cutler. In that case, we'd still be talking about an "apprentice cutler" or "journeyman cutler". Maybe as you get into the industrial revolution, rigid division of labor, large-scale production, etc., there might be a specialized single-word position of "polisher" or "grinder". This is all speculation, unfortunately. Just some English-language perspective.
-Sean

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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Mon 28 Aug, 2006 2:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A-ha! I must have been channeling George Neumann in my last post. Here's a section on hangers from his classic Swords and Blades of the American Revolution

"Contemporary manufacture normally began with a cast steel bar which was cut into two lengths, each of which would make two blades. After being fed through waterpowered rolling mills which pressed them to the desired shape and size, they were ground by large stone wheels, tempered by warm oil or water, and struck by hardwood blocks for testing. Before being finished by a polisher, the blade had a soft iron tang welded to its upper end. For assembly of the hilt, the components had hollow centers and were simply compiled one above the other on the thin tang. When complete, the tang's end was hammered down like a rivet head, or threaded for a screw-on cap (52). "

The important thing here is his reference to the "polisher". Sounds like a distinct trade/profession to me, and since Neumann is talking here about European weapons, and since the classic English hangers of the period were of German manufacture, it makes sense to me that he is using the term "polisher" in place of some culture-specific non-English term.

So, there's a respected published reference that uses "polisher" to descibe work that the "schwertfeger" also did. Right?

-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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Arne Focke
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PostPosted: Mon 28 Aug, 2006 3:26 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hm, polisher sounds good, sometimes it's best to stay simple. I think we will use "polisher/cutler" to describe the expression.

Sean Flynt wrote:
It seems to me that German has many long, detailed compound words to distinguish between things/actions.

You have no idea how many. Wink
You can even make up words which do not exist, but are quite comprehensible to a German.
Let me make up an example:

Waffenschmiede = A forge for weapons.

Waffenschmiedeversicherung = An insurance for that forge.

Waffenschmiedeversicherungsagent = The guy who sells you the insurance.

Waffenschmiedeversicherungsagentengehalt = The salary of the guy who sells you the insurance.

... and so on and so forth ... Laughing Out Loud

So schön und inhaltsreich der Beruf eines Archäologen ist, so hart ist auch seine Arbeit, die keinen Achtstundentag kennt! (Wolfgang Kimmig in: Die Heuneburg an der oberen Donau, Stuttgart 1983)
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Tue 29 Aug, 2006 6:40 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Laughing Out Loud
That's why it's such a rich language!

"Finisher" would be a good choice, too, and would cover lots of actions--polishing, filework, sharpening, refubishing, etc.

-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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Fabrice Cognot
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PostPosted: Tue 29 Aug, 2006 4:40 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In French, this falls under the profession of Fourbisseur - in English, furbisher Happy

There are statutes of this trade kept here and there. A furbisher's job was not only to polish/finish a weapon - sometimes, he also had to make the hilt, scabbard and all....

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Arne Focke
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PostPosted: Wed 30 Aug, 2006 12:25 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

"Furbisher" sounds good. The funny thing is, if you enter it in the google image search, you will find the homepage of a family called "Schwerdtfeger". Big Grin
So schön und inhaltsreich der Beruf eines Archäologen ist, so hart ist auch seine Arbeit, die keinen Achtstundentag kennt! (Wolfgang Kimmig in: Die Heuneburg an der oberen Donau, Stuttgart 1983)
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