German Words of the Week: Dissen & Cruisen

I’m listening to the radio this morning, and a woman’s talking about the new edition of the Pons publishing house Woerterbuch der Jugendsprache (Dictionary of Youth Language). Some nice examples can be found here (G): Solarium = chick-toaster; coin-operated Mallorca. Fat guy = Sidewalk-tank, Puddingsteamer, Double-Whopper. Weakling: Teletubbyzurueckwinkler – "guy-who-waves-back-at-the-teletubbies."

Two of my favorites were dissen and cruisen (G), which means just about exactly what they mean in English. Now, as we all know, when you want to express a wish or an "irreal" proposition in German, you have to do weird stuff to the verb, like add a -te at the end, change the vowel, or sprinkle a few umlauts over the vowels. As always, the irregular verbs get the weirdest conjugations.

A friend and I derive strange joy from trying to imagine how this mysterious Konjunktiv II Präteritum transformation would look for new German words. Any guesses? I’d guess dissen would be conjugated regularly, so it would just get a -te. But cruisen has a ‘u’ in it, so maybe, in my little fantasy-world, it could get its own very special umlaut: "Ich crüiste mit euch gern, muss aber hausafgaben machen."

What do you think? Am I onto something? And if I am, can’t we trademark the Konjunktiv II Präteritum of new German words, so that we get a couple of Euro-cents everytime someone uses them?

5 thoughts on “German Words of the Week: Dissen & Cruisen

  1. I am not sure whether english words which some people use in Germany as well can be considered as “German Words of the Week”. However, as this is your decision and I enjoyed reading this post I tend to admit it.

    Like stralau, I think that “cruiste” would be the more boring but also more correct version. Actually, I hope it is as I got no idea how I should pronounce “crüiste”. Though this is pretty conservative, I personally appreciate it if can figure out the pronounciation of words in my mother tongue.

    Thus, I guess Germany is not ready for your version. Not yet…


  2. But cruisen has a ‘u’ in it, so maybe, in my little fantasy-world, it could get its own very special umlaut: “Ich crüiste mit euch gern, muss aber hausafgaben machen.”

    There is only one Ablautreihe (to use a somewhat problematic but common expression) that would perhaps fit “cruisen,” although it’s one of those 1-verb things (certainly you can easily guess which verb it originally is), and it would lead to:

    cruisen, cries, gecruisen

    The Konjunktiv Präteritum is sometimes derived from the 2nd participle, but not here; it would be “crieste.”

    (Then there’s also “tun,” but I don’t really know how to fit “cruisen” in that pattern: cruisen, crast? gecrasen? Konj. Prät. = cräste?)

    But of course “cruisen” would be declinated weakly.

    As for the Gesellschaft zur Stärkung der Verben: Funny idea, thoroughly uninspired execution. It’s like buying a book called “Fun with numbers” and finding out it only has lots of random numbers printed on its pages in different sizes and colours and you’re supposed to find that funny.


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