Advent Calendar 6 – Of Cones and Taps

 

Of Cones and Taps

Hello everyone,

welcome back to our Advent Calendar, day number five . And behind this door, there’s something that you can also find on the ground when you take a walk in the forest. Small, like a baby fist maybe, dry, egg shaped, rough surface, brown… I’m of course talking about droppings. Conifer droppings to be precise, also known as Tannenzapfen.
“Emanuel, the cones of a pine tree are not droppings! They carry the seed for new life.”
Oh… so it’s like conifer sper… okay, okay, I’ll stop with the analogies. For now :).

So yeah, Zapfen is the German word for the cone of a conifer tree (conifers are actually called conifers because they carry cones).
But that’s not the only use for it.
Another Zapfen we can find in winter is the Eiszapfen, which is German for icicle. You know, these pointy, thin ice-things that hang from roofs. And if you caught a bad cold as a kid and you just couldn’t swallow the antibiotic pill, you might have ended up with a Zäpfchen (suppository) up your buttocks.
But by FAR the most important  Zapfen is the Bier zapfenBecause that means to draft beer

And that makes more sense than you might initially think. The origin is not entirely clear, but it’s probably a Germanic syllable that carried the idea of “something pointy”.
Besides Zapfen, this is also the origin of  der Zopf, which is what you do with your hair (plait, pigtail) and the noun der Zipfel which is basically a corner of a fabric… yeah, German has a word for that. Like, your pillow for instance has a Zipfel and the dwarfs from Snow White are wearing what is called a Zipfelmütze.
But the real reveal are the English relatives… get ready for a big surprise. The German word Zapfen is related to tiptop and tap.
Makes sense, if you think about it. They’re all about a something pointy.
And THAT is the reason why zapfen means to draft. Back in the day, beer would be in barrels and in order to draft it, you would put a tap, a cone-shaped pointy thing, into the barrel.

So there you have it. Now you know what a German pine cone (Kieferzapfen) has to do with drafting beer (Bier zapfen) and that a tap is called tap because it is pointy like a tip.

Feel free to put this trivia to use in one of those awkward silences at Christmas dinner. Like…
“… swear to God, I will disown you!”
“… “
“… “
“… uh… guys, did you know that tap is related to the German word for suppository?”
Works wonders :)
And that’s it for today.
Have a great one and bis morgen :).

for members :)

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Amerikanerin
Amerikanerin

Zapfen is related to Tip, Top and Tap!

How about this Swedish Chrissy song with the Tipp, Tipp Topp refrain then!

https://hooktube.com/watch?time_continue=33&v=54ElHAX4zLI

In English, “Zapping” as in channel roulette with the remote control… Like the remote control is a pointy thing and you Zap with it. Yet another German-English relationship. Wouldn’t really want a remote-control up my b… though.

Amerikanerin
Amerikanerin

Does anyone else have Gravatars next to the comments? Mine are gone. Aoind pointed this out, assuming I was on an iPhone, but I see that I no longer have Gravatars on the computer or iPad. Chrissy Magic? Unicorn prank? Parallel universe?

Abgasstufe Es-Zett
Abgasstufe Es-Zett

Nach O’Zapft ist in Minga (München) der Teufel los! Der Bürgermeister, ganz festlich gekleidet, trägt eine Bierzipfe. Und ohne Zapfen liegt das Bierzelt „leblos“am Boden,- flach ohne Dach!

PROST! & Real Germans do drink Bier zum Frühstück :+)
Moin Moin

Elsa
Elsa

Hi, Emanuel!
Laughed out loud over the suppository thing!!
Two really small typos (gosh, I’m starting to feel like the Grinch, so I’ll let you know that yesterday’s post did wonders for my vocabulary and listening skills, I felt I had to say this to make up for all this meanness): “the cone of a pine tree are not droppings! It carries…” – cones and they carry – and “thin ice-thing that hang from roofs” – hangs. I know this is finicky, but let’s make the posts perfect :))))
Bis morgen!

Tony
Tony

Ha! I did not know that in English “tapping a barrel” was “drafting”.
Makes sense , “Beer on draft, Draft Beer. Meaning beer direct from the barrel, not from bottles
Also spelt Draught.in England
Learn English with YourDailyGerman :)

berlingrabers
berlingrabers

I’m not sure you’d say you “draft a beer” in American English, even though you might refer to it as “draft beer” if it’s from a keg/barrel. In my experience, “beer on tap” is generally more common; technically “tapping” is how you get the barrel/keg started. After that, you “draw” a beer – which is where “draught = draft” comes from, “beer drawn from the tap.” My sense is that AE tends to use “pour” for a beer, even from a tap, but my experience is limited and anecdotal there.

Anonymous
Anonymous
Francesca Greenoak
Francesca Greenoak

Enjoyed this link. Thank you – and Herman Zapf.

Lassi
Lassi

I am enjoying this Advent Calendar very much. Vielen Dank. Ich habe viele Dinge diese Woche gelernt! I look forward to learning much more.

Amerikanerin
Amerikanerin

Um. It’s like, 09.36 Berlin time on DECEMBER 7th and still no neues Türchen. Are we heading for another time-warp “Türchen”? You know, the kind that mean that we jump over a day and blame it on a time warp? Unicorn stole die siebten Türchen? The siebte Türchen shrank vom St Nikolaus?

Need my fix, dude, experiencing intense Advent Calendar Withdrawl here…

Are you OK? Do you need to be rescued? Tell us where and we’ll be there en masse!

Amerikanerin
Amerikanerin

Thank-you!

Bill Dornan
Bill Dornan

I am loving this Advent calendar. Nice to get a daily chuckle and learn something new each day. By the way, on your recommendation I have subscribed to Seedlang. I think is great . I love how it stresses spoken exercises. It is great to see you in some of the videos. Channing Tatum has nothing on you. :)

Richard
Richard

How about: zapfstelle (gas station), zapfsäule (gas pump), zapfwart (gas station attendant), or are there more colloquial synonyms ?

Mumi
Mumi

I recalled a Slavonic word Zaponka which means a cufflink . It derived from old Slavonic zapjat( to cling) . A cone clips to the fir tree. Perhaps, Zapfen is the reflection of Indo -European roots . I mag diesel Wort . Thaaanks