When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Germany

Hey Pig! Germany's Steep Fines For Animal Insults ('Stinkefingers' Ain't Cheap Either)

Humans often hurl animal-based insults at each other. But in Germany, crass language can be costly, especially if you call someone an “alte sau.” Silly goose, not so much.

Germany's language police prefer cows to pigs
Germany's language police prefer cows to pigs

Every year, thousands of German drivers learn the hard way that it's just not OK to call someone a "dumb pig." The insult risks a fine of between 500 and 2,000 euros.

Call someone an "alte sau" or "old sow" – the highest level of verbal abuse – and the fine is even stiffer: 2,500 euros. On the other end of the scale are tamer insults like "silly goose" or "stupid cow." German authorities consider these to be less serious than pig-based affronts, and fines only cost around 300 euros.

Those who research cursing and swearing, called maledictologists, tend to see outbursts of this type as a verbal way of letting off steam and reducing stress. British researchers at Keele University conducted experiments in which test subjects were asked to immerse their hands in ice water and insult the researchers all they wanted while so doing.

"Hurling insults caused the release of endorphins that dulled the pain," said project head Richard Stephens. "Swearing can be good not only for the soul but for the body as well." In other words, yelling "stupid cow" is the equivalent of taking a verbal painkiller.

In Germany, however, getting caught doing this is only going to land you in hot water. And verbal insults are not the only ones German laws take umbrage with – insulting gestures prompts fines as well. Caught suggesting that someone is crazy by putting a finger to your head will cost a sliding percentage of monthly income. If this works out to 1,500 euros net per month, for example, then das Zeigen des Vogels can cost anywhere between 1000 and 1500 euros.

Giving somebody the Stinkefinger -- as in raising the middle finger -- is considered a higher-grade insult than the Vogel; the fine for that is also based on income, and can really break the bank.

Read the full article in German by Silvia Meixner

Photo - außerirdische sind gesund

You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
  • $2.90/month or $19.90/year. No hidden charges. Cancel anytime.
Already a subscriber? Log in

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
Geopolitics

Patronage Or Politics? What's Driving Qatar And Egypt Grand Rapprochement

For Cairo, Qatar had been part of an “axis of evil,” with anger directed at Al Jazeera, the main Qatari outlet, and others critical of Egypt after the Muslim Brotherhood ouster. But the vitriol is now gone, with the first ever visit by Egyptian President al-Sisi to Doha.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi met with the Emir of Qatar in June 2022 in Cairo

Beesan Kassab, Daniel O'Connell, Ehsan Salah, Hazem Tharwat and Najih Dawoud

For the first time since coming to power in 2014, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi traveled to Doha last month on an official visit, a capstone in a steadily building rapprochement between the two countries in the last year.

Not long ago, however, the photo-op capturing the two heads of state smiling at one another in Doha would have seemed impossible. In the wake of the Armed Forces’ ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood government in 2013, Qatar and Egypt traded barbs.

In the lexicon of the intelligence-controlled Egyptian press landscape, Qatar had been part of an “axis of evil” working to undermine Egypt’s stability. Al Jazeera, the main Qatari outlet, was banned from Egypt, but, from its social media accounts and television broadcast, it regularly published salacious and insulting details about the Egyptian administration.

But all of that vitriol is now gone.

Keep reading...Show less

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
  • $2.90/month or $19.90/year. No hidden charges. Cancel anytime.
Already a subscriber? Log in
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS

Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

Watch VideoShow less
MOST READ