German Of The Day: Putin-Versteher

That means Putin-Understander.


The battle of opinion regarding Ukraine has introduced a few new words to the main stream of the German language, and a few that had been leading a niche existence up until then. The best known one is Putin-Understander.

Most Russlandversteher (Russia-Understander) are, like Mr Schmidt and Mr Schröder, on the political left. The Social Democrats believe they have learnt from Ostpolitik, the eastern policy begun by Chancellor Willy Brandt in the 1970s, that when it comes to Russia rapprochement works and confrontation does not. The Left, a party that largely descends from former East German communists, goes further, channelling well-honed anti-American and Russophile instincts and seeing the Ukraine crisis as a natural Russian response to NATO’s expansionism. A Left leader, Katja Kipping, draws in American snooping, attacking Germany’s refusal to interview Edward Snowden, a whistle-blowing ex-contractor for the NSA hiding in Russia. She has called Chancellor Angela Merkel “the USA’s poodle.”

Der Meinungskampf um die Ukraine hat der deutschen Sprache auch ein paar neue Wörter beschert oder solche, die vorher ein ausgesprochenes Nischendasein führten, in den Hauptstrom der Sprache geschwemmt. Das bekannteste Beispiel ist der Putin-Versteher.

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