Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Dominique Meyer, Nichtsenfhauer

Waiting in my postbox this evening was Stretta, the monthly magazine of the Friends of the Wiener Staatsoper. It’s a modest publication that’s good mainly for the event tips – radio, TV and live – printed in the back pages. The only contributor worth reading is president of the Friends Karl Korinek, who can’t write anything critical or unsupportive, so instead contorts his discontent into amusingly slippery, Waldheim-like formulations. Commenting on the recent contract extensions for Dominique Meyer (until 2020) and Franz Welser-Möst (until 2018 with the option to extend for a further two years), Korinek has the obligatory nice things to say about both, but reading between the lines it all comes down to this juxtaposition:

On Welser-Möst
It is particularly pleasing that Franz Welser-Möst’s artistic leadership of the Staatsoper will continue. His presence on the podium in recent years has led to exceptional evenings of opera. [...] The orchestra is playing on a level we have rarely heard since Karajan’s time.
On Meyer
We wish Dominique Meyer much success in the next few years, for in a house that lays claim to being world-class there are always things which one can do better.



  1. Sorry for probably being a nuisance. But your choice of word puzzles me and I keep coming back to your blog to check if somebody else has asked already [good trick, btw. ;-) ] ... and now I'm losing my patience.
    I'm a native German speaker and don't know the word "Nichtsenfhauer". I'm too curious and can't resist: what does it mean? I'm aware that being native speaker does not automatically mean to know everything about a language - there are many dialects and sociolects and professional languages within a language. And I'm really interested and curious. So ... pretty please!?
    Thanks! - dabardan

  2. ... Aaarg, sorry, typo: I wanted to sign as
    I HATE to publish comments under the pretense of anonymity - to all intents and purposes there's practically no anonymity on the internet anyway ...

  3. Meyer bringt es nicht, mit der englischen Redewendung 'to cut the mustard' absichtlich komisch übersetzt. Also nur ein Kunstwort.

    Cunning linguist La Cieca over at Parterre has a flair for this. One of her recent ones was 'Der Pelz wird fliegen' (Da fliegen die Fetzen).

    1. Ah, das "cut the mustard" kapier' ich zwar, wenn ich's höre oder sehe, aber da wär ich nie von selbst draufgekommen ... Danke!

  4. Massimo Montanari10 March 2012 at 00:43

    @ Nichtsenfhauer
    To muddy the water, will you have some mustard on your post?

    There is no word like "Senfhauer" oder its opposite "Nichtsenfhauer" in today's German, neither in colloquial speech nor in dialect or idioms.

    Dennoch: Mann / Frau kann sich über unwissende "Auf-den-Senf-Hauer" belustigen. "Seinen Senf" sollte Mann / Frau aber nur dazugeben, wenn er / sie darum gebeten wird, ansonsten fällt diese Wortspende auf den unwissenden Spender zurück.

    1. I like your alternative suggestion, which muddies the mustard rather amusingly, but should point out that I never claimed the word was actually German... And anyway you guys really should be encouraging the invention of new German words to rid the language of the ghastly Denglish that's so fashionable now. A smartphone advert I saw at a tram stop today read 'twittern, liken, sharen', which is just awful.