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 :).

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Mumi
Mumi
3 years ago

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

Richard
Richard
3 years ago

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

Bill Dornan
Bill Dornan
3 years ago

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. :)

Amerikanerin
Amerikanerin
3 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Who IS Channing Tatum? Ich gehe ein bis viel Mal in der Woche ins Kino aber ich weiß NICHT wer diese Channing Tatum ist. Ist sie Blondin? Dem Name nach, ist sie ein bisschen wie Cameron Diaz. Vielleicht soll ich andere Filmen sehen oder die Klatschspalten lesen.

Amerikanerin
Amerikanerin
3 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Channing Tatum is a GUY! Oy. Nope, not my type. Prefer the liberal intellectuals. Sucker for a nice pair of shoes. UND…

Männer riechen nach Windeln bis sie 40 Jahre alt sind. Mit 40 riechen sie nach Männer, aber haben nicht genug Übung. Mit 50 sind sie reif. Die Männer im Video sind Kinder. (Kindern – n-deklension?). Männer sehen aber besser aus mit Kleider.

Amerikanerin
Amerikanerin
3 years ago

Thank-you!

Amerikanerin
Amerikanerin
3 years ago

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!

Lassi
Lassi
3 years ago

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

Anonymous
Anonymous
3 years ago
Francesca Greenoak
Francesca Greenoak
3 years ago
Reply to  Anonymous

Enjoyed this link. Thank you – and Herman Zapf.

Tony
Tony
3 years ago

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
3 years ago
Reply to  Tony

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.

Elsa
Elsa
3 years ago

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!

Rohrkrepierer ‐ KOOK & HECKLER
Rohrkrepierer ‐ KOOK & HECKLER
3 years ago

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

parisbongi
parisbongi
3 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

This I learned at my wedding deep in the heart of Bavaria…at midnight during the wedding celebration the happy groom must tap the beer keg. I understood that part much better than the wedding ceremony in fact, my German was much worse than it is today. Thanks to you!

jonasby
jonasby
3 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Me too! (die Hochzeit war im Juli, aber leider habe ich nicht gewählt, ein riesiges Holzfass zu bezahlen und das Anzapfen zu genießen!)

Amerikanerin
Amerikanerin
3 years ago

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?

Amerikanerin
Amerikanerin
3 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Chrome on PC, Safari on Mac. Fitmrefix is indeed a Diva.

Ruth
Ruth
3 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Yes. Audio has been misbehaving on Firefox, but works fine through the thoughtfully provided link to mp3. Some things seem only to be problems with Firefox in combination with a no longer supported version of Windows.
You have just persuaded me to try Opera.

Amerikanerin
Amerikanerin
3 years ago

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.