German Word of the Week: Schnecke auf Glatteis

Ok, it’s a phrase, not a word.  It means "like a snail on a sheet of ice."  I heard it this morning on the local radio call-in show, and was enchanted.  Here’s a real-world example which helpfully explains the phrase.  Plus, the example deals with the position of women in Bavarian public-service jobs, which I know has been on all our minds lately. 

Speaking of efforts to promote equality between the sexes in government bureaucracies, Ms. Christa Naaß, chairwoman of some comission or other, says: "The efforts to advance womens’ equality in Bavaria are proceeding like a snail on an ice-sheet, incredibly slowly and stubbornly, with lots of sliding to-and-fro!"  Isn’t that actually how government bureaucracies operate?

Enough snide quips.  Now to science.  I’m no malacologist, but I believe I am correct in saying that a snail is a mollusc, and molluscs are cold-blooded.  I’m also no iceometrist, but in my experience, ice is generally rather cold.  Therefore, I would imagine that a snail trying to move along on a sheet of ice would soon get very, very, sleepy.  He would probably curl up in his little shell and take a nap until Spring.  Goodbye, snail! 

Until we see you again in the Spring, let’s learn a little about your molluscy brother, the sea slug.

2 thoughts on “German Word of the Week: Schnecke auf Glatteis

  1. I’ve got a slightly different opinion: Snails glide on a water-based gel which would freeze on ice. First the snail can’t move, then he probably freezes completely. A pretty mean phrase…


  2. Discovery Channel…featuring Mr. Hammel and the Slug Squad 🙂

    That´s a cool expression. Another one related to slipery things os the phrase “In Lebensgefahr schweben”


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