[Ger-Poland-Volhynia] Nix vs: Nicht

Juergen Bomert juergen.bomert at limburg-an-der-lahn.de
Mon Nov 1 08:46:08 PST 2004

One has to distinguish in German between "Nix" and "Nixe" !

"Nix" means "nothing" (no official word, slang).
"Nixe" is that female sirene.


----- Original Message -----
From: Lloyd Friedrick <lloydfriedrick at telus.net>
To: <ger-poland-volhynia at eclipse.sggee.org>
Sent: Sunday, October 31, 2004 6:53 PM
Subject: [Ger-Poland-Volhynia] Nix vs: Nicht

> I received the following question from a young relative and I provided an
> answer [copied below]
> After I sent it to him, I realized that I probably did not provide the
> answer to him and now I appeal to the many linguists on our listserve to
> assist me in providing the correct explanations.
> His question:
> Judy and I went to an antique sale last night, there I opened an old set
> books
> on the top of the page was the word " NIX",  a German word for sea siren
> "Nixie for female siren.
> Yet I found it in my Webster's Dictionary, meaning  "To forbid"
> My mother always said "NIX"  meaning "NO WAY"  I always thought it was a
> German word.
> Interesting...What is your comment,  did your family use it?
> --------------------------------------------------------------------------
> ---
> --------------------------------------------------------------------------
> ---
> My reply to him
> You must remember that our parents and your grandparents spoke different
> variations of German.
> Karl and my Dad spoke a Vohynian German which over the years became what
> people describe as a  "softer" version of the guttural German. This
> because they were partially integrated with Russian, Ukrainian, Polish and
> Jewish [Yiddish, which is very old German] languages and culture . My Dad
> could almost carry on a conversation in Yiddish with some Jews who lived
> Maidstone Saskatchewan. But, this is another whole field of interest.
> Your grandmother who lived all her life in Dortmund spoke a different
> I don't know if it was high or low German. I must get into this subject of
> language change someday.
> Dad did fairly well in learning English but Karl struggled with it all his
> life in Canada.
> Now to get to your question about the word    NIX
> It was also used in our household as either a mispronunciation or the
> development of German/English slang that many reverted to during their
> learning of English. Bert Winter was a good example of this.
> The original word in German is NICHT.  Literal translation to English  NOT
> So with your [and mine] untrained ear to nuisances of the German language
> would perhaps hear it spoken as NIX. It was perhaps easier for the elders
> simply say NICHT which covered a lot more ground than the simple NEIN
> There statement of NICHT prob meant that it was forbidden, don't bother
> it  and of course our favourite Canadian expression "Forget about it"
> lloyd friedrick
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