What do an elephant hunted by an outed Spanish king and a poem critical of Israel by a German nobel prizewinner have in common? The German internet world called them ‘shitstorms’ of current news situations, picking up on a stateside phrase whose usage doesn’t seem to have spread across the EU
(Image: © Henning Studte/ studte-cartoon.de/)
It doesn’t seem to be the most constructive comment ever, but there it is in emails, internet forums and social networks across the German internet. This e-dirt campaign is not only slung at public figures, but also companies and political parties. The term ‘shitstorm’ seems to have originated in the United States. In slang English (though some sources scream ‘american’ and ‘canadian’), it best translates to the saying when the shit hits the fan.
Sascha Lobo: ‘How to survive a shitstorm’ | The digital expert speaks (in German)
The German media widely reported on king Carlos of Spain’s April expedition to Botswana on an elephant hunt, at a critical time of austerity and unemployment of his subjects, as a shitstorm. The French politely branded it a media storm (temperierteren tempête médiatique). Upon waltzing out of hospital, which is how the world knew of the royal’s little pre-Olympics sporting accident, Charlie appeared humble at the legions who had thrown shit at him (tirar mierda encima de alguien, in Spanish slang), and even made a striking schoolboy apology. See? Just a storm in a teacup.
‘I’m really sorry,’ says Carlos | ‘I made a mistake and I won’t do it again’
Read ‘Portmanteau words: Denglisch in Europe‘ on cafebabel.com
Mud slinging is the operative word for a German ‘shitstorm’ in other European countries: Poland often throw this substance to discredit their politicians (mieszać (zmieszać) kogoś z błotem), whilst the Italians have to fight the mud-slinging campaigns gloriously called macchina del fango (as used expertly by writer Roberto Saviano). Meanwhile, the linguistic phenomenon reached its peak in Munich when an ‘anti-shitstorm hotline’ (‘Hotline gegen Shitstorms‘) was launched for the victims of web hounds. You can call between 8am and 8pm, for a starting price of 500 euros for a morsel of advice. However it was Germany’s green party politician Volker Beck though who shone the best light out of the mud-slinging-shit-storming, with this gem of a British anthem:
British singer Lily Allen | We say it best on the island…
cafebabel.co.uk works only thanks to your contributions. Read about these proposed issues, react, argue, propose your own angles or information bites
- Geocaching - treasure hunting
- Does your friends’ online ego annoy you?
- Youth unemployement in Europe - is money the right solution ?
- Hunt the alternatives/new communities in Europe
- Got a funny idiomatic expression to share in our 'Tower of Babel' column?