Word of the Week: Sommerloch
Every Friday, Germany.info and The Week in Germany highlight a different "Word of the Week" in the German language that may serve to surprise, delight or just plain perplex native English speakers.
Enlarge image (© picture-alliance/ZB)
Although it may at first sound like a reference to a refreshing riverside swimming hole, a "Sommerloch" (summer hole) actually refers to something entirely different - the dearth of "real news" smack dab in the middle of summertime.
The "Sommerloch" occurs during the "Sommermonate" (summer months). During these long, languid days punctuated by many vacations in Germany (and beyond - most Germans are avid globe-trekking travelers!), people don their "Sommersachen" (summer stuff / summer clothes) and might even acquire a few "Sommersprossen" (freckles). They may also retro-fit their German-engineered driving machines with "Sommerreifen" (summer tires).
The German media, meanwhile, just might start concocting some far-fetched April Fools' type tales to confuse - and bemuse - their audiences. Past "Sommerloch" stories in Germany have, among others, included reports of an escaped seal swimming up the Elbe River near the eastern German city of Dresden, as well as alleged "sightings" of a crocodile that decided to call a lake in the southern German state of Bavaria home.
"For most of last week, there had only been one topic of discussion in Schwandorf, Germany: 'Klausi' the crocodile, the first big story of the country's annual silly season of slow summer news," Spiegel Online International reported on July 16, 2012 in a story aptly entitled "What a Croc - Dangerous Reptile Might be a Beaver."
Welcome to the "Far Side" of the annual German news cycle.
So who ever said Germans have no sense of humor? Clearly some German media folk, at least, like to indulge in the lighter side of life during the "Sommerloch" which sometimes leaves them scrambling to find any "hard news" to report on. If they faile to deliver any such "Sommerloch" stories, their audiences would moreover take note, for they have come to expect them.