Word of the Day – “der Schirm”

Hello everyone,

and welcome to our German Word of the Day. And today, in a new part of the series “Scraping the bottom of the barrel”, we’ll take a quick look at the meaning of

der Schirm

 

Or Schüam as we say it in Berlin :). We tend to say the short i like ü in dialect.
“Emanuel, can you do something on dialects, please?”
Well, I just did.
“Uhm… thanks, but we mean more.”
Honestly, I can’t really talk about dialects because I don’t know much about them aside from Berlin dialect. And also, I think there are lots of good Youtube videos out there. Including mine with Easy German about Berlin dialect ;).
I am, however, thinking about doing something about pronunciation. Like… some general thoughts and tips that I have. So stay tuned for that.
But today, we’ll take a quick look at Schirm and if we make a list of items that are a Schirm in German, we’d get quite a weird selection of things. Like… a screen, an umbrella and a lamp shade. And the brim of a baseball cap. And a parachute.
Oh and bailout fund for banks during a financial crisis and a missile defense system – though those are more metaphorical uses.
Quite a wild mix, but the they all have one thing in common… the shape and the purpose. They’re all more or less curved planes that “catch” something.
And that’s precisely the core of Schirm.

The origin of Schirm is the disappointingly ancient Indo-European root *(s)ker-. This root expressed an idea of cutting and it has grown into a HUGE family tree. Some words are quite obvious, like the English shear or scar or scarf or shirt.
Or the German die Schere (scissors). But there are also some real surprises, like short and its German translation kurz, for example. Or family of cortex, which in Latin meant the bark of a tree, the outer layer that you’d cut off. So there you have it… next time conversation is slowing down on a date, remember this line:  “Hey, did you know that Cortisone is related to T-Shirt?”
And then make sure you don’t say it. It’s… it’s not gonna help at all.
Anyway, a Schirm originally was a piece of leather that was fitted onto the shields of warriors to protect the wood. And this notion of a spanned piece of cloth is still the essence today – it just has different purposes now.
A Regenschirm is a spanned up piece of fabric that protects from rain. A Fallschirm is a piece of cloth that protects you from falling. A Lampenschirm is the cloth around a lamp and the light bulb (which used to be quite hot, back before LED). And a Bildschirm  originally was a piece of cloth that would “catch” the light of a projector.
Oh and by the way… the word screen actually might come from the same Germanic word that Schirm comes from.
Anyway, let’s take a look at a few examples.

  • Ich war vor meinem Fallschirmsprung nicht sehr aufgeregt.
  • I wasn’t very nervous before my parachute jump.
  • Die Eichhörnchen wollen einen Raketenabwehrschirm über ihrem Teil des Zauberwalds aufspannen.
  • The squirrels want to span a missile defense system across their part of the magical forest.
  • Maria hat ein Video von Thomas beim Abwaschen als Bildschirmschoner.
  • Maria has a video of Thomas doing the dishes as a screen saver.
  • Langes Arbeiten am Bildschirm macht die Augen müde.
  • Working at a screen for a long time makes the eyes tired.

Little side note… in quite a few contexts the word das Display is actually getting more and more the standard. Particularly for the screens of notebooks, tablets and especially smart phones.

  • Das Notebook hat ein sehr gutes Display.
  • The notebook has a very good display.

But I guess it’s the same in English.
Anyway, besides the various Schirm-nouns, there’s also the verb abschirmen, which is basically about shielding someone from something.

  • Mein Kopf ist durch den Aluhut von den MSM-Strahlen abgeschirmt.
  • My head is shielded by the tinfoil hat from the MSM-rays.

And there’s also a really useful idiom with Schirm. Actually, that’s kind of the reason why I decided to talk about this word to begin with.
I am talking about etwas auf dem Schirm haben.
I think the origins of it are radar systems and having something on the screen there. So actually, it’s similar to the English expression of having something on my radar. But I feel like there’s a difference in usage because the English phrasing feels like it’s about targeting or tracking while the German expression is often used in the sense of remembering/not forgetting something… like an appointment or a task or something.

  • “Du weißt, dass du diese Woche Putzdienst hast, oder?”
    “Ja, hab ich auf dem Schirm.”
  • “You do know that you’re on cleaning duty this week, do you?”
    “Yeah, I’m on it/it’s on my schedule.”
  • Hast du das Meeting morgen auf dem Schirm?
  • Do you remember the meeting tomorrow?

I feel like the radar-expression wouldn’t really fit in these, but I might be wrong.
Anyway, the expression is pretty common in spoken German and I’m sure you’ll hear it sooner or later, so it’s good to have it auf dem Schirm :).
And I think that’s already it for today. Short but sweet, just like a baby carrot.
Hmmm, with onions in butter. So tasty.
Anyway, as usual, if you want to check how much you remember you can take the little quiz I have prepared. It’s super short because I didn’t really know what to ask, but I didn’t just want to skip it.
And of course if you have any questions or suggestions just leave me a comment. I hope you liked it and see you next time.

Oh, and I just realized I didn’t tell you the plural… it’s die Schirme.

 

 

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Kalidasa
Kalidasa
1 year ago

Can you translate this sentence, which I came across recently: “man hätte es mir ansehen müssen” is it: one should have shown it it me?

PeterB
PeterB
1 year ago

Emanuel, you are correct. Here is a quote from here to make it a more official confirmation: https://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/on+radar

on (one’s) radar (screen): Considered by one as important or noteworthy; within the spectrum of one’s awareness, attention, or consideration.
1.    If you want this issue on people’s radar, you have to frame it as something that will impact their wallets.
2.    This band wasn’t on my radar screen six months ago, but they’re one of my favorites now.

aoind
aoind
1 year ago

I would agree with you about the radar phrasing. For one thing I don’t think it’s all that common, at least not in British English. One might say “he/it’s on my radar” to mean peripheral awareness or watchfulness but it’s the sort of pointlessly figurative speech people come out with at business meetings to sound like original thinkers. In my own experience, “below the radar” is quite a common way of saying “avoiding detection or scrutiny”. Why do I find the first one cringeworthy but the second one acceptable? No idea.

Haseeb
Haseeb
1 year ago

Wow absolutely cool. I had also noticed the wierd ways schirm is used.
Love it.

Teresa García
Teresa García
1 year ago

Hello! I love your blog. I find it super helpful.
I write now only because I notice you are moving stuff around (a bit confusing…), and I would like to comment that, since I am rather short-sighted, I would like to be able to increase the font size.
Thank you.

EM C
EM C
1 year ago

Hi Emanuel, seems the search bar is missing?

EM C
EM C
1 year ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Thanks!!!

Charles Gleaves
Charles Gleaves
1 year ago

I think you are correct in your understanding of the English expression “I have it on my radar.” As for it being corporate jargon, maybe, but not exclusively.

Waldemar
Waldemar
1 year ago

After meeting my first real girlfriend, my dear German mother recommended that I should always use a schirm.

Dom
Dom
1 year ago

Hi everybody, I just wanted to say a huge THANK YOU to the members who donated a little extra for scholarships, because that’s how I got here. You’re awesome and I can’t wait to study German with you!

Pia
Pia
1 year ago

In my neck of the woods, we would use the idiom more negatively than positively,
it is not even on the radar, meaning I haven’t even thought about it

marcus w.wright
marcus w.wright
1 year ago

o yes I am cognizant of that!

Sir Bob
Sir Bob
1 year ago

Hallo allerseits! Ich bin neu hier. :)
I’m really excited to explore this awesome, super helpful blog!
Thanks a lot to Emanuel and specially to the community and it’s astonishing generosity in sponsoring other people’s German studies! I promise I’ll make a good use of it! :D

John
John
1 year ago

This is a terrific posting! One correction, however. The caption to the drawing says “How you like my ….?” Setting aside possible dialect forms of this expression (which exist), this does not state a grammatical sentence in English. One must say “How do you like my ….?”

Ahmad Mazaheri
Ahmad Mazaheri
1 year ago

Hallo lieber Emanuel,
Ein hilfreiches Wort sowohl auch seine Kompositionen: Sonnenschirm, Regenschirm ,
Windschirm, Bildschirm ( Display) , Raquettenabwehrschirm ,…… etc. Ohne seines Verb Abschirmen im Sinne schützen vor etwas oder jemandem zu vergessen . Ich habe alles auf dem Schirm ( in Meines Gedächtnis ) ! Dankeschön
Bis Bald

jen1
jen1
1 year ago

UGH FLASHBACK! ´MEGA´ Fun ist Toll Aber bitte kein MAGA Fun. Wir habe Biden jetze, kein (Make America Great Again) Yeah!

berlingrabers
berlingrabers
1 year ago

I think on my/our radar can work pretty well across the board for auf dem Schirm. It really just means that something’s in your sphere of awareness.

Super, super useful idiom. You hear it all the time in German.

coleussanctus
coleussanctus
1 year ago
Reply to  berlingrabers

I want to say it seems a little more common in German, and maybe more neutral/positive. I could be biased though because I associate it with corporate talk in English and go out of my way to not use it. The first thing that comes to mind is “something I need to do but probably am not looking forward to” even though that’s definitely not the only way to use it.

For what it’s worth, the picture in my head for the negative “on my radar” is the radar going beep, beep and not being able to turn it off. If it’s something like a book or movie coming out or a topic I’m following, it’s more like just seeing something on a screen.

Stephanie
Stephanie
1 year ago

You have a whole post on the Berlin dialect: https://yourdailygerman.com/berlin-dialect-special/

Elsa
Elsa
1 year ago

Hello,

Let’s do some typos then:
“make a list items are a Schirm” (make a list of items that are a Schirm)
“bail out fond” (bailout fund)
it just different purposes now” (it just has different purposes now)
“A Fallschirm is a piece of cloth that protects that’s used for falling” (A Fallschirm is a piece of cloth that protects users when falling? is that what you meant?)
“a Bildschirm  originally it was a piece of cloth” (a Bildschirm  originally was a piece of cloth – a surplus “it”)
“screens of notebook, tablets and especially smart phone” (screens of notebooks, tablets and especially smartphones)

Yep, you need more sleep :)

You’re right about the radar expression in English, it does mean tracking in the sense of being important to the person, worthy of consideration and interest.

I got all quiz questions right :)
Oh, and I’ve restarted my German classes and doing quite well, considering all that I’ve been going through.

Bis bald!

Jake
Jake
1 year ago

I hear “auf’m Schirm” mostly in the negative.

Ah, das hatte ich gar nicht auf’m Schirm. – I wasn’t even thinking about that. That wasn’t even on my radar.