Mauerscheiber and meebrunzer

Mauerscheiber and meebrunzer

Iphofer kropfer, groblangheimer kracken, sommeracher katzenkopf, mainbernheimer stehpreuben, volkeracher damen, kleinlangheimer sandhasen, segnitzer brotrausch: in the district of kitzingen alone, there are several local nicknames. Author martin droschke went in search of french place names and came up with 3000 of them. He has written a book about the best 72 names. It’s pretty hefty in there.

Muzzlers and mauerscheibers, cat-eaters and donkey-punchers – gab?S already worse, because french people see themselves denigrated?

Martin droschke: yes. But less than expected and not because of the names themselves. I had thought that it was mainly local historians who would complain because I was poaching in their area. This has been completely absent so far. Complaints came from hof. A bookstore there refuses to sell the book.

Hof and other places, such as wunsiedel, really don’t come off well. Did they have to be so ruthless?

I just wanted to counter the mendacious glossy language of tourism marketing with something honest. In hof it was just extremely cruel – dismissive people, no offer for guests at all. There is a lot going on culturally, but if you want to have a nice day out, you should avoid hof as far as possible. And wunsiedel even more widely.

They looked around incognito in all the places themselves – and didn’t do any research on the internet?

Exactly. I was in all the places myself and looked at them intensively. I was very positively surprised by some of them: by mainbernheim with its historical flair, for example, and also by miltenberg, by pappenheim in the very south of frankens, and by volkach on the mainschleife. I also gained some very nice impressions on the old main bridge in wurzburg: while strolling along the main, tourists mingle with locals, everyone drinks their wine happily and relaxed – a great atmosphere.

Nevertheless: "caution, bose!"Is written on the title of the book and is programmed in your descriptions. Is the french bose?

Well, the french have to put something powerful in their back pocket. They don’t like to talk, and that’s why they’re very reluctant to openly express their conflicts. The frenchman prefers to grumble among his peers, creates a nasty name for the neighboring town – and then abruptly hits him over the head with it. Then he gets a counterattack. And female: all is well.

And how do you research names of abuse?

The university of wurzburg has collected names of insults for lower franconia, but mostly without explanations. At the university of erlangen there was already a research project for all of franconia in the 60s, but it was never completed. This collection was my harbor; from there I made inquiries mainly in city and municipal archives; these were great sources!

Wasn’t the publisher afraid that they would – to put it in good french – rub the snout too far??

No, it’s rather the other way round: people are fed up with credos like "we are always nice to each other". The publishing house has strengthened my back. Those who cannot muster the self-irony and feel insulted are simply insulted. To be snotty with each other is something wonderful. Always better than when anger builds up and eventually breaks out – for example in hate campaigns on facebook.

Which local rant cost you the most nerves??

The research in general was a huge mess. After digging through the archives, it became clear: "brockenfresser", for example, exists in many places. The nickname always appears when protestant and catholic neighborhoods clash. It was always dominated by the catholics, who could not imagine how the breaking of bread at the evangelical eucharist worked.

The explanation is as simple as that?

Yes, it is often that simple. There are swear names that recur, such as words ending in -henker, -fresser, and -scheiber. Some are due to cribbed schildburger pranks, others to what actually happened. Many place names are based on local sayings: the town or village is under siege by swedes, the population is starving, someone comes up with a ruse so that the swedes think the inhabitants still had plenty to eat – and therefore give up the siege. There is such history almost everywhere, where the thirty years’ war ruled.

How old are the place names??

The oldest stories date back to lutheran times. But only in the 19. Invective really took off in the twentieth century. For the most part, the names did not come from the people at all, but are owed to bored village scholars – pastors and teachers. They emulated tale collectors like grimm and liked to spend time in the pub in their search for the most amazing sayings. For a free beer, many a person has probably transferred a saying from village X to village Y – or the writer has used his own imagination.

… And stories simply invented?

Yes, there was that too. For example, it is said that a pastor invented the crosshead story of burgstadt near miltenberg. He writes that the catholics of burgstadt had vehemently prevented luther from visiting and had driven him back to miltenberg with cemetery crosses. We know, however, that luther was never there.

You are a native swabian. Interesting that such a spatzle-eater of all people judges the franks!

I’ve been in franconia for 25 years and am only a swabian leftover. Maybe that’s why I can see franconia from a more distant perspective. You franken don’t even notice that you keep up the local cuss culture so actively!

Are we the only tribe there?

Place names used to exist all over germany. In the meantime, the need has mostly died out. Only in franconia is the culture still really alive. Franconia is once again grateful for its resistance and does not sacrifice everything to the latest fashions.

Who knows local nicknames and insults from the region and even knows where they come from?? We are happy to receive information: d.Fox@infranconia.

Author and book

Martin droschke: born in augsburg in 1972, droschke has now lived in coburg for almost 20 years. He is a freelance journalist and literary critic as well as an author.

Book: "von hundefressern und zwiebeltretern – wie die franken ihre nachbarn nennen und warum", emons-verlag 2019, 224 pages, ISBN 978-3-7408-0564-3, approx. 15 euro.

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