Unkraut – German Word of the Week

Man harvesting kraut

Harvesting kraut

This week’s German Word of the Week (or should I rather say “month”?… as I’ve been a bit slack lately) contains a component that many of you will recognise: Kraut! In addition to the culinary sour, blue, and red krauts that are served in our homes and restaurants, we also group our flora into kraut and non-kraut. Yes, that is true. Any plants that can’t be cultivated or are so-called pests, are classified as Unkraut which literally means “un-cabbage” (cabbage = kraut). So we classify every plant by how closely it is related to the national vegetable and if it doesn’t come even near, it’s simply Unkraut, i.e. weed (this is actually the corresponding term using a translation into English, the etymology of which is not nearly as colourful though…). So keep on calling us krauts, just don’t call us Un-krauts!

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