Ein Kessel Buntes

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perpend

Banned
American English
I don't know if anyone remembers this show, but I'm curious A), if it refers to laundry, and if so, would it be contemporary German?, and B), how does the grammar work, since "Kessel" is masculine. How does Buntes get an "s" at the end? If it were genitive, then why not "Bunter" (Wäsche). Now I'm really confused. Thanks for guidance.
 
  • Gernot Back

    Senior Member
    German - Germany
    I don't know if anyone remembers this show, but I'm curious A), if it refers to laundry, and if so, would it be contemporary German?, and B), how does the grammar work, since "Kessel" is masculine. How does Buntes get an "s" at the end? If it were genitive, then why not "Bunter" (Wäsche). Now I'm really confused. Thanks for guidance.
    Yes, I remember the show, although as a Wessi, I only came across it after the German reunification. Buntes is all that is "bunt" more in the sense of various than colorful.

    Ein Kessel Buntes used to be some kind of variety show, as far as I remember. As such Buntes is a nominalised adjective and since it can be virtually everything we use the neuter gender, which is where the -s ending comes from.
    Kessel (kettle) has connotations with hot and much going on inside. Idiomatically we also speak of Hexenkessel.
     
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    perpend

    Banned
    American English
    Okay. "nominalized adjective". I understand the grammar better.
    And I think I'm way off with laundry. It's more like a "stirring/melting pot".

    It's funny you mention "Hexenkessel" which relates to cauldrons, which
    relates to "calderas" (volcanic (?)), geological phenomena.
     

    Sowka

    Forera und Moderatorin
    German, Northern Germany
    Hello :)

    Okay. "nominalized adjective". I understand the grammar better.
    And I think I'm way off with laundry.
    I think the expression is indeed ambiguous. The original "ein Kessel Buntes" certainly referred to laundry at a time when there were no washing machines and the laundry was done in a wash boiler (Waschkessel).

    This was a long time ago... I think at that time you could do either a "Kessel Kochwäsche/Weißwäsche" or a "Kessel Buntes/Buntwäsche", which required lower temperatures.

    So, the show made reference to that old expression, but the name of this show is ambiguous (with 1) the original "laundry" meaning and 2) the meaning explained by Gernot) and thus a quite funny name at that time.

    * * * * *

    In the "laundry" meaning, I would explain "ein Kessel Buntes" as "ein Kessel buntes Zeug"; this would explain the neuter form. "Zeug" was (is?) often used to refer to clothes, for instance "Arbeitszeug" or "Unterzeug". But there may be better explanations for this neuter form in the "laundry" sense.
     
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    perpend

    Banned
    American English
    Thanks Sowka, ABBA, and Frank. All of the comments/explanations! help me understand even better ... Great stuff. Thanks again.
     

    Hutschi

    Senior Member
    I just want to add that Buntes is "Buntwäsche" - so "Weißes" is "Weißwäsche".

    Ein Kessel Buntes is figurative for the mentioned mix - a bit of everything - as mentioned above.

    In my mind it also indicated the beginning of "Buntfernsehen"= coll. for Color TV vs. Schwarz-Weiß.

    So it could be a double metaphor. I am not sure fully.

    I cannot remember if it was sent black and white in the beginning.
     
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