Babies or bust

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leya25

Senior Member
Brasil Portuguese
German Crisis: Babies or Bust

German is running out of Germans, because of an extraordinary baby slump.
Nobody quite knows why the Germans have stopped having children. [...]
Or it may be that the German's incessant angst about the future disinclines them to
start a family. The government has introduced incentives to raise baby output but there is
still no sign of a rise in the birth rate.

Can anyone explain me what the title means? - Babies or Bust?

I think it is babies or faillure, rupture? That the idea is not a good one?

Thanks for any advice
 
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  • cropje_jnr

    Senior Member
    English - Australia
    No, the prospect is not angled as being good for Germany.

    It's a play on words based on the phrase "boom or bust". This expression often refers to situations of considerable risk, expressing the idea that someone or something will either succeed or fail spectacularly, such is the level of risk.
     

    Nymeria

    Senior Member
    English - Barbadian/British/educated in US universities blend
    Also a play on the fact that babies tend to be quite fond of women's busts...
     

    Cypherpunk

    Senior Member
    US, English
    I'm not sure I follow that line of logic, Nymeria. Since a mother's breast size tends to increase with milk production, postpartum, this doesn't really come down to an either/or proposition.

    EDIT: By the way: I agree with cropje and Viv on this. I did not agree with Nymeria's interpretation.
     
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    cycloneviv

    Senior Member
    English - Australia
    I found this in a previous thread about a phrase including "or bust":

    "To go bust" means "to be bankrupt / broke ."
    It is part of a famous American historical idiom of the 1840's Gold Rush,
    "California or Bust", or "Get to California for gold or go broke trying."

    Similarly, I would interpret "Babies or bust" as a play on that idiom and generally implying "We (Germany) need babies or we will have a big problem".

    Here is the thread in question, which I found by typing "or bust", including the quotation marks, into the Dictionary look-up box at the top of the page, set to English definition:

    it’s sh*t or bust.
     

    Nymeria

    Senior Member
    English - Barbadian/British/educated in US universities blend
    I'm not sure I follow that line of logic, Nymeria. Since a mother's breast size tends to increase with milk production, postpartum, this doesn't really come down to an either/or proposition.

    EDIT: By the way: I agree with cropje and Viv on this. I did not agree with Nymeria's interpretation.
    Perhaps because you are overthinking it a bit. I wasn't trying to draw a direct parallel, nor was it a "line of logic" per se. I agree with the other interpretations given. I'm simply adding the whoever created the headline probably also bore in mind the close relationship between babies and busts and the juxtaposition adds some humour to the headline.
     

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    Perhaps because you are overthinking it a bit. I wasn't trying to draw a direct parallel, nor was it a "line of logic" per se. I agree with the other interpretations given. I'm simply adding the whoever created the headline probably also bore in mind the close relationship between babies and busts and the juxtaposition adds some humour to the headline.
    I disagree entirely. The phrase "[X] or bust", with [X] being whatever is regarded as the goal, dates back as a widely known, familiar phrase at least to the Pike's Peak gold rush of 1859, when many would-be prospectors painted "Pike's Peak or Bust" on their wagons. Since then "___ or bust" has appeared regularly as a slogan, as a catchphrase, or as a headline referring to whatever the goal or interest of the moment was. A simple search of Google, using quotes and the asterisk to stand in for an unknown word, for the exact phrase "* or bust", returns more than 2 million hits. I would find it highly, highly unlikely that the person who wrote the headline was in any way alluding to breastfeeding. It is much more likely that the headline writer was struck far more by the simple alliteration of word "babies" with the ending of the extremely common phrase "___ or bust".
     

    Nymeria

    Senior Member
    English - Barbadian/British/educated in US universities blend
    Again, I did not say that that was the sole reason or the main reason. Again, I said I agree with the interpretations given. However, regardless of the history of the phrase, I find it highly unlikely that any person familiar with the English language could put "babies" and "bust" next to each other be totally ignorant of the association between the two, especially since headline writers are notorious for such.
     

    Nunty

    Modified
    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    Again, I did not say that that was the sole reason or the main reason. Again, I said I agree with the interpretations given. However, regardless of the history of the phrase, I find it highly unlikely that any person familiar with the English language could put "babies" and "bust" next to each other be totally ignorant of the association between the two, especially since headline writers are notorious for such.
    Sorry to differ... I am highly familiar with the English language, a native speaker, and the first association that came to me was the one GWB explained. "XXX or bust" is a very familiar expression in American English, a cliché, in fact.

    "Bust" is used in dressmaking or art, but with regard to feeding babies, we talk about breasts, not a bust. It didn't even occur to me until I read your post. I do not believe there is any such association implied. Sorry.
     

    mime2

    Member
    English-England
    It's a play on words based on the phrase "boom or bust".
    If it was as cropje_jnr suggested then it would also fit the phrase
    "baby boom" caused by a large increase in the national birth rate.

    The term "bust" in this sentence is most likely used to warn the possible result of the "baby slump".
     
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    Scribblerr

    Senior Member
    English US
    I immediately understood that it was a play on the commonly played with phrase "_________ or bust." I also saw the breast reference, and feel like I'm conditioned to do so because this tired pun is used so often in headlines and titles.
     

    panjandrum

    Occasional Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Whether this headline was written with breasts in mind is entirely a matter of speculation.
    Clearly, there are some readers for whom it immediately calls breasts to mind, and others for whom it doesn't.
    A compendium of opinions will tell us more about contributors than the headline, so I am closing the thread.
     
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