Schnitzel, Beer and Beyond…


Posted by on May 8, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Since being in Deutschland I have learned many new words. One particular word, aufschlagen, caught my attention while in Heidelberg at the Heidelberger Schloss. The meaning of aufschlagen is broad and includes: to pitch or to serve (a ball), to set up or to pitch up (a camp, a tent), to break or to crack (an egg), to open (a book), to impact or to strike or to hit. In regards to opening books, this word has been used in a specific phrase dating to around the 1200s; “Schlagt eure Bücher auf.” Currently this phrase is used by teachers to tell students to open their books; the direct translation, however, means beat your book. Beating your books has become part of the German language, but it’s origin has an interesting history. In the 1200s books were bound with metal latches that would hold thepages together very tightly. The purpose of this was to keep books fresh, and resist moisture or other contaminations. In order to open a book that had been latched closed, one would need to take their fist and slam down on the book. When whacking the book with a fist, the pages would become compressed, the latches would be easily unhinged, and this allowed the book to be opened. The long history of this word and phrase has lasted through the ages; today one may not consider the origins of “beating books,” and books are no longer bound with latches, but non the less the phrase, “schlag eure bücher auf,” still survives with the meaning to open a book.IMG_3095

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