Are the supposed names of beasts (or "wesen") in the television show Grimm based on folklore, history, or are they made up for the show?
They're based neither on myth nor history, but are very loosely based on German.
For example, the first time a Reaper of Grimms appears his scythe says Erntemaschinen der Grimms. This is German for "Reapers of Grimms", but as you might guess from the maschinen it means an automated harvesting machine. I think they word they wanted would be Schnitter but in a later episode it's been changed to Vernichter, "destroyer".
Some like Blutbaden are more subtle - Blutbad is the correct term for bloodbath in German, but the plural is Blutbäder, not Blutbaden. Blutbaden is more like "to bathe in blood" or "bloodbathing", although I don't think it's really a word.
A few, like Jägerbär, are "correct" but don't appear in the original tales at all. Jägerbär translates to hunter-bear.
Worst is the Mellifer queen. Mellifera is the Latin species name for honeybees. But they call the leader of the hive Mellischwuler which is like, honey gay - as in homosexual. The only explanation I have for this is that they looked up "queen" in a translation dictionary but read one definition too far and hit the translation for "queer".
From the relevant Wikipedia page:
these creatures do not exist by these names in the Grimms' tales, nor are they referred to as such in spoken or written German
So they were made up for the show.
Those names are not used in written or spoken German nor are they used in the original Grimm fairytales. They are very loosely based on the German language but it is often obvious that the person who made them up for the show was not a native German speaker.
Well I am a native German speaker and I love the show but when I hear these words... Okay I know they should based on the German language but nobody is saying anything like this in Germany and these words are false(grammar) ... For instance blutbaden means something like to take a bath in blood but the person who made these words wanted to say bloodbath and that would be blutbader in German. It's funny because in the German translation of the show all words are correct, but on one hand side it's ridiculous but on the other hand side it's so funny because you notice that the writer isn't a native German speaker.
Krampus (evil santa as they put it) is German folklore, based on Germanic paganism. So I can say krampus was not made up for the show.
Well, some are made up and some are based on existing folklore. Like the Krampus is bases in German paganism and the wendigo is based in Algonquian folklore. And so on. So even though many of the wesen seem to be made up, some are based on real folklore.
These names are essentially German words, and as a guess possibly the names of types of things in the original German obscure tales by the brothers Grimm. Only a small portion of their stories are commonly known in English.
Blutbaden = Bloodbath
Reinigen = to clean/to cleanse
There was an episode that revolved around a "Golem" which is legitimate, it comes from Jewish folklore and dates back quite some time.
There's more about it in this Wiki article if you want to take a look: Golem
Well, I know it's been a long time since anyone posted here but, I came across this show only recently. When I started watching it I was not hooked from the start. These word creations they are using finally made me stay. I keep rolling over my carpet laughing, really!!
Of course, hardly any of it is proper German, neither contemporary nor mediaeval nor of any other times. If it is "Germanish", there is often a different meaning to what they're saying, in spoken German.
So what! It's a TV show. And as much as I enjoy listening to Scottish or Northern British accents, I think that this fake, or let us say, creative German, makes Grimm special. The language is nothing but comic relief. Enjoy folks! I know, I will.
If you really want to know something about German, you might find pretty hilarious what Mark Twain wrote when trying to learn German. The text is available on the internet titled "The Awful German Language"! Have fun!
So, and now, I hope I didn't make a fool of myself with his post. You see, I am a little concerned because of my English, since I am German, born an bread.. Haha... only taking the mickey. I know it should be born and bred. But you see that's about how creative Grimm's German is!!
Thanx for reading!
I don't think Jadzeli (see comment below) has any reason to apologise for his/her remarks (note the PC!) nor is there any need to delete them. The whole Grimm series is now on Netflix, and you can expect new people like myself to come bounding in with new enthusiasm.
The quick answer to this question is that most of the German names for Wesen used in the TV series "Grimm" are indeed made up, using roughly the same principle of shoving concepts together to make a portmanteau word as German psychologists used at the time of Jung and Freud, who excelled in this semantic pastime. But not all the Wesen names are artificial.
It is perfectly admissible for a TV show based on fantasy to invent its own "pidjin" German. JK Rowling did the same with the Latin language for her Hogwarts spells, and that never spoiled the books, just made me, a Classics MA graduate, laugh like a drain.
To find the complete answer to the original question you have to trace the origin of each species of Wesen . The show producers admitted that they had ranged far beyond Grimm's Germany to find new tales to bring to the screen, so they brought in Egyptian gods (eg Anubis, Khepra), the Jewish Golem, other imports like Krampus and Wendigo and of course there were rich pickings from Mexico and South America (eg chupacabra). For these Wesen, the correct names and spellings are used.
For all the Wesen-"species" supposedly originating in the Schwarzwald (literally Black Forest), the show had to find new terms where the Grimm Brothers had written just "a wolf", a "bear", "a large dog" in order to emphasise the job of the Grimm, helping him decide which ones were good and which were bad. So Fuchsbau is literally a fox's den (foxhole in trench warfare), which is easier to say than Fuchsgesicht - literally, foxface. Bauerschwein is boar-pig. Seltenvogel is just a rare bird. Hexenbiest is witch + beast. The utterly disgusting Hasenfussige Schnecke is literally a "hare worm" and why they introduced "fussig" meaning possessing legs, nobody knows. But if they had not used pidgin German here, but only correct literate German, they would still have come up against a great deal of criticism because German is far from a unified language. Everybody would have weighed in with criticism of incorrect translation - it's a Lose Lose situation.
So, enjoy the pidgin German!! Who cares about blutbaden vs Blutbäder? We all love Monroe.
Thank you for your interest in this question.
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