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<   No. 2411   2009-09-02   >

Comic #2411

1 Ophelia: You can't argue against the success of J. K. Rowling, Will.
2 Ophelia: She's sparked the imaginations of people everywhere. It's die Zeitgeist, as it were.
3 Mercutio: Actually, it's der Zeitgeist.
4 Ophelia: Oh honestly, Mercutio, what are you? Some sort of German Nazi?

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Oddly enough, this is just about the only strip in which I actually care about getting the German articles correct. Colonel Haken and Erwin tend to simply use "die" all the time, even though they really should use "der", "das", "des", "dem", or "den" occasionally.

Interestingly, the English meaning of Zeitgeist - which is borrowed directly from German - is largely the same as the literal German meaning: the "spirit of the times". But in English this often used to refer to the cultural and intellectual feeling of the present time, whereas in German der Zeitgeist is used exclusively to refer to the culture and environment of past times.

2023-03-12 Rerun commentary: I'm actively learning German at the moment. (I started learning it when Duolingo recently changed its UI for the worse and made it close to impossible to use it to continue reinforcing my Italian as I had been doing.)

Knowing more German now makes me more embarrassed that I got Haken and Erwin's usage wrong in the first place, and then doubled down and stuck with it. If I were doing it now, I'd make sure to get it right.

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