spießig

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temujin

Senior Member
Norway / norwegian
Hi,

I have problems getting the full meaning of the word "Spisig", used slightly derogative (I think).
(sorry, but at this moment I don´t have any context...)
t.
 
  • Jana337

    Senior Member
    čeština
    temujin said:
    Hi,

    I have problems getting the full meaning of the word "Spisig", used slightly derogative (I think).
    (sorry, but at this moment I don´t have any context...)
    t.
    Hi Temujin,

    it spells "spießig". Similar words: spießbürgerlich, der Spießer.

    It is a derogatory word that young and old rebels use to label middle class people with uninspiring lives full of routine and with a penchant for conformity.

    If you have read Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis, that's it.

    Hope this helps.

    Jana
     

    elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Whodunit said:
    Possible translations of spießig into English:

    - petty bourgeois
    - (very) middle-class
    - philistine
    - narrow-minded
    - "square"
    - white-bread

    I personally prefer/use the underlined word. :)
    "Philistine" is used very infrequently. I don't know that there's a good English equivalent - perhaps "bourgeois" said with the right tone of voice...
     

    gaer

    Senior Member
    US-English
    elroy said:
    "Philistine" is used very infrequently. I don't know that there's a good English equivalent - perhaps "bourgeois" said with the right tone of voice...
    I think Philistine is excellent, but I agree that it is not frequently used. Personally I like "provincial", and it can be either an adjective or noun, so it covers both spießig and Spießer. :)

    G
     

    sohc4

    Senior Member
    Germany, German
    gaer said:
    I think Philistine is excellent, but I agree that it is not frequently used. Personally I like "provincial", and it can be either an adjective or noun, so it covers both spießig and Spießer. :)
    What about square? Would that be too colloquial? "Spießig" isn't exactly formal, either...

    Axl
     

    elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Jana337 said:
    And parochial? Yes, I know, not really an equivalent...

    Jana
    Doesn't "parochial" have to do with churches or with being concerned with a specific region?
     

    gaer

    Senior Member
    US-English
    sohc4 said:
    What about square? Would that be too colloquial? "Spießig" isn't exactly formal, either...

    Axl
    For an informal word, "square" may be too square. :)

    In other words, I'm not sure it's use much by younger people.

    "White bread" is interesting, but you can never quite be sure when it is used just for people who are narrow-minded or for "white" as oppsed to "black".

    The problem is that you need informal or slang words that mean "provincial"—or "Philistine"—and that may not be possible.

    Gaer
     

    Jana337

    Senior Member
    čeština
    elroy said:
    Doesn't "parochial" have to do with churches or with being concerned with a specific region?
    Certainly there is no gainsaying. But "being concerned with a specific region" in a very negative sense, right?
    Isn't limited scope of concerns, a restricted outlook and an insular attitude towards foreigners and new ideas what constitutes a Spießer? I reiterate: they are by no means equivalents.

    Jana
     

    gaer

    Senior Member
    US-English
    Jana337 said:
    Certainly there is no gainsaying. But "being concerned with a specific region" in a very negative sense, right?
    Isn't limited scope of concerns, a restricted outlook and an insular attitude towards foreigners and new ideas what constitutes a Spießer? I reiterate: they are by no means equivalents.

    Jana
    I agree, but provincial, I think, has all those meanings…

    Gaer
     

    elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    gaer said:
    For an informal word, "square" may be too square. :)

    In other words, I'm not sure it's use much by younger people.


    Gaer
    Except in "be there or be square"! ;) :D
     

    elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Jana337 said:
    Certainly there is no gainsaying. But "being concerned with a specific region" in a very negative sense, right?
    Isn't limited scope of concerns, a restricted outlook and an insular attitude towards foreigners and new ideas what constitutes a Spießer? I reiterate: they are by no means equivalents.

    Jana
    "Parochial" can be neutral: a geographic study can be parochial, in that it focuses on a very specific region.
     

    gaer

    Senior Member
    US-English
    elroy said:
    "Parochial" can be neutral: a geographic study can be parochial, in that it focuses on a very specific region.
    That's why I still think provincial is the best word:

    Noun—3 a : a person of local or restricted interests or outlook b : a person lacking urban polish or refinement

    Adj.—b : lacking the polish of urban society: unsophisticated

    Gaer
     

    elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    gaer said:
    Is that used? :confused:

    Gaer
    Yes - like when you invite someone to a party, you can say "be there or be square," as in "be there or be .... [fill in the blank]"

    Have you not ever heard this?! :confused:
     

    gaer

    Senior Member
    US-English
    elroy said:
    Yes - like when you invite someone to a party, you can say "be there or be square," as in "be there or be .... [fill in the blank]"

    Have you not ever heard this?! :confused:
    Oh, I was wondering if it is used much by people under 20, for instance. Or under 25. I know that saying, but I'm older, so I never know what is "current". :)

    Gaer
     

    elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    gaer said:
    Oh, I was wondering if it is used much by people under 20, for instance. Or under 25. I know that saying, but I'm older, so I never know what is "current". :)

    Gaer
    It's used, just not too frequently - so you're right. :)
     

    elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Whodunit said:
    Well, does "a person who is square" mean "pantywaist"???
    No. "Pantywaist" means effeminate.

    "Square" basically means uncool, old-fashioned. Here's what dictionary.com says:

    A person who is regarded as dull, rigidly conventional, and out of touch with current trends.
     

    Oceanboy

    Senior Member
    Spanish/Ecuador
    How would you then say in german?
    Do germans have a „square“ mentality?
    Haben die Deutschen eine spießige Mentalität?
    And in this same context :
    Do you find my friend Jenny too square?
    Yes, i do.
    weil, she is half german!
    Would the word „spießig“ fit ?

    Many thanks.
     

    deltron

    Senior Member
    English (American)
    So sehe ich es, aber ich bin kein englischer Muttersprachler. Frage an diese: Kann man es auch mit "straight" ausdrücken? "She is so straight!" – „Die ist so spießig!“
    At least for AmE, straight wouldn't work. If I heard that, it would mean the person is extremely heterosexual.

    I always hear spießig along with (gut)bürgerlich to describe neighborhoods, like a neighborhood wouldn't have too many good bars because it's too spießig and bürgerlich. In this case spießig would be closer to conservative.

    "Square" is way too old fashioned for me, and I would never say philistine. The question is what makes this person spießig? Is it their politics, or their attitude about sex/drugs? Kleinkariert is a really nice adjective in German that might describe that behavior, but it doesn't apply to every instance of Spießigkeit.
     

    Kajjo

    Senior Member
    I always hear spießig along with (gut)bürgerlich to describe neighborhoods
    Spießig is quite negatively connotated, a mild form of insult. I don't think English has a good equivalent for it, unfortunately. The term square seems to be somewhat restricted to AmE and is colloquial, isn't it?

    Spießig as personality trait is a mixture of not being modern, being narrow-minded, very much into rules and "the way it always was", old-fashioned decoration, focused on neatness by the book, often lower middle-class.

    Gutbürgerlich is mostly used for traditional, hearty food, simple bürgerlich for traditional, conservative middle-class (but of course also in the sense of "civil", depending on context).
    Kleinkariert is a really nice adjective in German that might describe that behavior, but it doesn't apply to every instance of Spießigkeit.
    No, this is just one aspect of it and of course can also be true for people who are not "spießig". But yes, it co-incides quite often.
     

    deltron

    Senior Member
    English (American)
    Spießig is quite negatively connotated, a mild form of insult. I don't think English has a good equivalent for it, unfortunately.
    Take a look at "uptight." I think it ticks most of the boxes as a character attribute.

    The term square seems to be somewhat restricted to AmE and is colloquial, isn't it?
    Don't know about BrE, but I'm sure they said it in the 70s as well (haven't seen Austin Powers for a while). The word is extremely dated and not really actively used anymore. Square is the opposite of hip, which isn't said anymore either.
     

    Kajjo

    Senior Member
    Take a look at "uptight." I think it ticks most of the boxes as a character attribute.
    No, uptight is different. It's "verklemmt, verspannt". Verklemmt is similar to prudish or inhibited, verspannt to tensed. People that are uptight might be unapproachable, have a rigid demeanor... right? Are contrast at ease, easy-going, open?

    That's not spießig. There really is no word for it in English, square might be closest, but still different.

    Square is the opposite of hip, which isn't said anymore either.
    So it does focus more on old-fashioned, out-dated, too traditional, the opposite of trendy, stylish, modern?
     

    Kajjo

    Senior Member
    Maybe “prim and proper” (as a criticism)?
    No, spießig is not primarily about prim and proper. It does not focus on neatness, even if this property might be common.

    Spießig is a strange concept, mostly used to express negative thoughts about people that behave properly and a bit too middle-class. I don't like the concept, because it is mostly the social distance of often even envy that makes someone say something like that. Often it's just a malicious term of those who feel excluded from the middle-class establishment.

    There is an legendary TV advertisment spot with the punch line "I would like to be a Spießer, too" said by a child. <MOD: allowed to post the link?>
     
    Last edited:

    Kajjo

    Senior Member
    “prim and proper” is not only or even primarily about neatness.
    Yeah right, that what I imagined. I know prim and proper. This is not spießig in general. Some of the old-fashioned styles might be considered (partly jokingly) to "ein spießiger Look" though. But not the more tidy, neat, prim dresses, only the old-fashioned, boring ones.
     

    Kajjo

    Senior Member
    Personally, I use "philistine" a lot.
    Wikipedia defines:
    Wikipedia said:
    the derogatory term philistinism describes the 'manners, habits and character' of a person whose anti-intellectual social attitude undervalues and despises art and beauty, spirituality and intellect.[1] A philistine person is a man or a woman of smugly narrow mind, and of conventional morality whose materialistic views and tastes indicate a lack of and an indifference to cultural and æsthetic values
    This does not fit to Spießer, only "smugly narrow mind, and of conventional morality" fits quite well.
     

    Schlabberlatz

    Senior Member
    German - Germany
    There is an legendary TV advertisment spot with the punch line "I would like to be a Spießer, too" said by a child. <MOD: allowed to post the link?>
    Yes, I remember that one:
    Yes, some call them "Spießer". There was a TV commercial by a building society which featured this. If you don't mind watching commercials, you can google it: "Papa, wenn ich groß bin, will ich auch mal Spießer werden". (A link cannot be posted here because it is a commercial.)
     
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