German Advent Calendar 17 – Jeff’s Space Company

Yourdailyslurrrrman Advnt Calllenda

Jeff’s Space Company

♥♥^♥♥^♥♥ + (♥-♥)!

Hello everyone,

day 17 of our epic calendar and today, as promised a few days ago, we’ll talk a bit about the origin of

blau

 

I think most of you know that blau means blue. And the reason for this word is simply that when people were naming the colors they were like “This one looks like the sky.”
And the sky was blue, so that’s how they picked the word.
Like… I didn’t do research about this, but I have a gut feeling, and that’s all the science I need.

Anyway, the reason we’re talking about this is NOT the color but the fact that blau is also a REALLY common word for drunk.

  • “Oh mann, ich bin total blau.”
    “Es ist Montag mittag und wir haben Meeting!”
  • “Oh man, I’m completely drunk.”
    “It is Monday noon, and we’re having a weekly meeting!”

And you will not believe the likely origin of that (and I actually did research for this).
Here it comes:

Back some 500 years ago, the main (actually only) way in Europe to dye a fabric to the color blue was a certain plant – (dyer’s) woad.

Now, I ain’t no expert in colors, but these look pretty yellow. The plant is playing us for suckers, though, because the leaves actually contain a chemical, that if fermented and mixed with other chemicals yields the colorant indigo.
Now, the other chemical that was needed conveniently happened to be part of something we all have… urine. Yes, urine. And it would work even better when you added a bit of a certain other chemical called ethanol, also known as alcohol. Which was pretty expensive in pure form back then.
And now guess what them dyers did.
They were like “modern problems need modern solutions.” and they drank a lot of beer and then peed repeatedly on the squashed leaves and the fabric.
That way, they had a lot of urine, they had the chemicals premixed in their body, and they had a jolly good time.
And then, when the fabric had turned blue, they’d hang it up and hang out with a hangover while it would dry.
Which is probably the origin of the expression blau machen, which means to skip work (when you should be working).

  • Heute mache ich blau.
  • I’m not going to work today.

Pretty crazy story, right?
Now, I have to say that this is NOT 100% certain. Not the technical side… you can get blue colorant that way. But it’s not entirely certain if this is REALLY the origin of blau sein and blau machen.

But hey, haters gonna hate and it’s definitely the most fun version and it is “legit” enough to have been featured on the main German television channel in a science show for kids… some of you might know it, “die Sendung mit der Maus”.
Which is AWESOME by the way. Seriously… if you’re B1 or above, check out their videos. There’s so much love in them.
I’ll leave the links below, so you can check it out. The second one is hilarious!

So, now you know the likely origin of why blau means drunk.
And that’s it for today.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments, have a great day and I’ll see you tomorrow.

Sendung mit der Maus about “blau machen” – Teil 1 (link to video in German)

Sendung mit der Maus about “blau machen” – Teil 2 (link to German video)

 

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michele
michele
5 months ago

Urine was actually used to make the color more permanent in the fabric. The Smithsonian Magazine had a nice summary of pre-industrial uses of urine, readers might find interesting.
https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/from-gunpowder-to-teeth-whitener-the-science-behind-historic-uses-of-urine-442390/

michele
michele
5 months ago

I can’t believe I just noticed the math under the stocking and title. You’d think an old math teacher would notice patterns. Guess I was to anxious to get to the German. Shouldn’t the minus sign in front of (0!) be a plus for this? 2, 4, 16 plus 1. Or am I missing your pattern? Now I have to go back and look at the other days….fun for me.

Pentatomidae
Pentatomidae
5 months ago

I know that in eighteenth century England, beerhouses uses to sell vats of customers’ pee to textile factories. Perhaps that avoided the problems of having all your employees in a permanent state of inebriation!

Anonymous
Anonymous
5 months ago

I don’t know if you know this, but in Russian the color that’s the sky color is a COMPLETELY (like, nothing in common) word than blue. Blue is blue, like royal blue or navy blue. In Russian it’s siniy. Light blue, like the sky or people’s eyes is goluboi. You’ll never call someone’s eye color or the sky “blue” in Russian.

gallia_a
gallia_a
28 days ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Auf Italienisch haben wir auch verschiedene Wörter: “azzurro” für hellblau, “blu” for dunkelblau. “Azzurro” kommt aus dem Persischen für “Lapislazuli”, die verwendet waren, um die Farbe zu machen

Eva Capdevila Gallart
Eva Capdevila Gallart
5 months ago

In Català language the same color is also BLAU

Starbuck
Starbuck
5 months ago

“would work even when you added a bit of a certain other chemical called ethanol” – should this be “even better”? As it is, it reads like the ethanol isn’t necessary to the process.

“which means to skip work (when you should)” – it’s not super clear whether you mean skip work when you ought to skip it, or skip it when you ought to be working.

Starbuck
Starbuck
5 months ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Kein Stress! Auch habe ich wieder kein “Done” Knopf. Ich dachte ich hatte es schon commentiert aber vielleicht nicht.

Starbuck
Starbuck
5 months ago
Reply to  Starbuck

*keinen

Ahmad Mazaheri
Ahmad Mazaheri
5 months ago

Was für ein einzigartige Farbe ! Es hat viel mit westlicher Geschichte des Europa und der amerikanischen Kontinent im besonderen USA zu tun .
Das rohe Stufe des Blau war so teuer wie das Gold damals, im Mittelalter bis Neue Zeiten, Anfangs 19. Jahrhunderts . Das war ein Wettbewerb zwischen Grösse Mächte wie zurzeit über seltene Erde mit China . Man kann nur an Kokagne Land ( Schlaraffenland) denken wo fliesst viel und Milch . Oder an den Blue jean als Symbol der intensiver Entwicklung , Industrialisierung , Ausbeutung des Menschen ist Indigo immer bemerkenswert !
Bis Morgen

stee pedro stee
stee pedro stee
5 months ago

When I was a youth, stores and most everythang was closed on Sunday in the US of A – these rules were referred to as the “blue laws”.

Blue being used like that in English comes from the 17th century, as a disparaging reference to rigid moral codes and to those who observed them… particularly in blue-stocking, a reference to Cromwell’s supporters in the parliament of 1653.
(gracias, wikipedia)

so drinking tinted the clothes which teetotalers preferred.

Elsa
Elsa
5 months ago

Hello,
Typos:
“and the drank a lot of beer” (and then (or they, as you wish) drank a lot of beer)
“the had the chemicals premixed in their body, and they had jolly good time” (they had the chemicals premixed in their body, and they had a jolly good time)

True or not, this story is a great way to memorise the word/expressions and that’s good enough for me!
You said blau machen means to work (blau machen, which means to work) but your example seems to suggest the opposite, i.e. “not to work”. Heute mache ich blau, translated as I’m not going to work today… I’m confused on that one…

Bis morgen!

Amerikanskan
Amerikanskan
5 months ago

Die Sendung mit der Maus is also available in pod form for those of us who aren’t willing to sit glued to the New Boob Tube/idiot box.

Listened to that one and Logo (children’s news) every day for nearly two years. Still listen to Radio Teddy Nachgefragt. Can highly recommend all three.

Dance with Shadows
Dance with Shadows
5 months ago

Hi Emanuel, I understand the origin of the Sprichwort “aus die Maus”. But why is it die rather than der?

Dance with Shadows
Dance with Shadows
5 months ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Thanks. I was beginning to think I did not understand the dative case at all.

Elizabet*
Elizabet*
5 months ago

Totally unexpected backstory to that phrase, but very interesting!!

“the expression blau machen, which means to work (when you should).”
Should say “to NOT work” or “to SKIP work”, right?

Dillon
Dillon
5 months ago
Reply to  Elizabet*

That’s the only way I understood it with the example and it making sense

coleussanctus
coleussanctus
5 months ago

Things I never thought I would learn when I decided to learn a foreign language: for thousands of years, people had to stomp around in pee dye to make pretty blue fabric. (How did they figure out how that works?)

Also Ferris macht blau is a pretty good movie.

Elsa
Elsa
5 months ago
Reply to  coleussanctus

Is that what “Ferris Bueller’s day off” is called in German or are you talking about a different film?

coleussanctus
coleussanctus
5 months ago
Reply to  Elsa

Same movie! That’s what it’s called in German.

Adrian
Adrian
5 months ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Also cassava https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cassava#Potential_toxicity …”hmm, we soaked it and let it dry for 4 hours, Jimmy still died. Shall we try 5 hours?”