Monday, 21 April 2008

Word of the day Tag - as in Kirchentag, Bundestag and Tagung

In the car coming home Dr B. mentioned the problems encountered at work with translations of the German word "Tag". Some of you may think this is pretty straightforward - Tag means day doesn't it? Of course it does, but as often with languages not always! Bundestag is the German federal parliament, the tag part comes from the word tagen to meet, sit or hold a meeting, to parliament if you like in this context anyway. In fact, the lower house of the German parliament is also called the Federal Diet, whence the clue that will clear up the confusion. "Diet" as Wikipedia notes, is derived from Medieval Latin dietas, and ultimately comes from the Latin dies, "day". The word came to be used in this sense because assemblies met on a daily basis which is reflected in the German language use of Tagung (Meeting) and -tag.

Fortunately, no one thinks of translating Bundestag as federal day.

However, when it comes to the Kirchentag or Katholikentag there are a number of translations out there talking about Church days when actually these are Protestant or Catholic church congresses, which it's true do take place over several days.
Anyway I'll be going to Bremen for a planning meeting of the next Protestant Kirchentag in about a month, book the 20-24th May next year if you want to get a taste of this brilliant event. You can find out more from the British Kirchentag website. In May 2010 the Catholic and Protestant congresses will be joining forces in Munich for a joint ecumenical Kirchentag, it's going to be quite something.