Sow you, sow me…

In German, you can add the word “Sau” (sow) to quite a lot of other words to add some porky emphasis to your point. So, for example, “saukalt” (pigging cold), “saublöd” (pigging stupid), or “saugeil” (frigging great) are all possible.

One sausage to rule them all...
Pigging delicious

In my efforts to amaze and impress my students, I like to bust out a few German expressions every now and then. This is normally met with reactions like, “AWWWWW!” and “Aww, so süß!” (Aww, how sweet!), but I persevere anyway.

So I was at a lesson, one rainy afternoon…

Me: Ugh, das ist wirklich ein Sauwetter. (Ugh, this weather is really shite.)

Gudrun: Ja. Hey, what’s “Sau” in English?

Me: Sow. 

Gudrun: Sow – Sau. Huh, maybe that’s where the English word for “sausage” comes from?

Me: Ha ha! (Hmm, I wonder…)


Linda-brain in overdrive is a dangerous thing and, really, something that should be prevented from happening with any sort of regularity. But, on this occasion, there was no stopping me. My brain hit the ground running – there’s a nice image for you – and, by that evening, I was ready to share my profound new theories with my unfortunate German friend. I installed myself on the sofa and prepared to make linguistic history.

Me: So, I’ve been thinking…

Long-suffering friend: Oh no.

Me: You know the English word “sausage”?

LSF: (Groan)

Me: OK, and you know the German word “Sau” and the verb “sagen” (to say)?

LSF: I’m German. 

Me: Yes, yes, but listen. What if “sausage” comes from those two German words? 

LSF: Go on…

Me: I mean, maybe, back in the day, in a village called BAD Wurstemburg or something, there was a local guy who used to sell pigs at the market? He’d have called out descriptions of the pigs and “Get your pigs, five for fifty!” or something, making him…

LSF: Yes…?

Me: The Pig Sayer! Sausager! 

LSF: Groan.

Me: Or, OR, maybe in BAD Wurstemburg, or wherever, the pigs developed kind of an attitude problem and the locals found it hard to deal with them.

LSF: (Pours another glass of wine)

Me: (Singing) Who they gonna call? THE PIG SAYER! 

LSF: (Downs said glass of wine)

Me: You know, he’d have been like Robert Redford with the horse-whispering, except in Lederhosen – and with pigs, obviously. Whenever someone had an uppity pig on their hands, they’d send for Sieghard the Sausager. 

Sieghard the Sausager
Probably not a realistic likeness of Sieghard the Sausager

Me: But “sausager” was a bit too cumbersome for native English speakers to get their poor little tongues around so they shortened it to “sausage”! Ta-dah! 

LSF: Is any of that true? 

Me: I have no idea. Let me check. 

Of course, it turned out that I was talking absolute nonsense. The word “sausage” actually comes from the old Northern French word, “saussiche”. How dull. Anyway, it’s all sausage to me. I live to drivel another day. My apologies to any Germans who make my acquaintance.






80 thoughts on “Sow you, sow me…”

  1. Oh gosh, Linda brain in overdrive is hilarious! This is fantastic. I think you should have a side job figuring out stories to explain where other words come from 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ah, but where does the northern French word come from? Word nerd that I am, I looked it up and it is from medieval Latin salsicia, which itself is from salsus “salty.” I am disappointed because I thought the “sage” part was from the herb.
    It is good to know that sau can be used as a prefix meaning “frigging.” That’s news I can use 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I thought sage might be from ‘sagen’ as well- the wise old sayer 😉 Wrong on both counts! I did see the salsicia link as well but I figured I’d gone on for long enough at that stage haha!

      Liked by 1 person

    2. It isn’t a secret that French is a Romance language, developed from Vulgar Latin.
      But even in French the old German- Franconian (Carolus Magnus) vernacular shines through.
      E.g. “Sauvignon” comes from “Sau” plus “vigne” means “Pig from the vineyard” who produces a special ham. Or “sauterelle” means (little) Sau hops in the grass”.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hmm Josch, I don’t know about Sauvignon, but think I’d have to disagree on sauterelle. That comes from the French verb “sauter” (jump) which comes from Latin saltare. The “sau” in it isn’t the root meaning pig. Latin words in sal- regularly become sau- in French.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. And I could find no proof for Sauvignon either. The only thing I could find was that it comes from ‘sauvage’ – savage, or in this case, wild – the vines were found growing in the wild. I think Josch is telling porkies… 😉

          Liked by 1 person

        2. Hear ye, hear ye!
          Whether “sauter” or “sauvage”, this words describe something dynamic and unbridled. Like a raging boar! Over the centuries, these meanings have modified. And why turns Latin “sal” not in French “sau” in (unwild) words like “sal, salis” -> “le sel” (salt) or “salutare” -> “saluer” (greet)? Questions afters questions … 🙄

          Liked by 1 person

            1. There are always exceptions. But not in this case, because “la sauce” in Latin is “jus, juris” :mrgreen:
              Ok, the mist of the centuries had shrouded the ultimate truth 😉

              Liked by 1 person

  3. Maybe the origin for sausage is indeed Sausager?
    The Englishmen are quit finicky when they are confronting with their German/ Germanic heir, even the genetic tests demonstrate formidable that he term “Anglo- Saxon” is perfectly ok. 👿
    This makes feel them neglected and they feign this Old- French stuff?!
    Whatever the case, you make a great job! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

      1. The prefix “sau” accentuate an adjective between comparatives and superlatives.
        E.G. “stark” (strong): stark -> stärker -> saustark -> am stärksten
        Otherwise it means “dirty”, “smelly” and with inadequate table manners.
        The “Sauger” is the short form for “dirty and smelly German” (Sau- Ger- man).
        But Sieglinde the Sauger can have a totally other and disturbing meaning; giving this post a tendency to get rather silly. 😆

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Hahaha, your poor German friends!

    I actually guessed sausage came from French after looking at menus in France. Jan and I often have conversations about which language English words came from. I just figured out yesterday why a baby swan is a cygnet (we were in Lausanne, which is French speaking and there was a Restaurant du Cygne with a swan on the sign).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Love stuff like that 🙂 And yes, I feel truly sorry for the Germans who have to listen to me as well! But they seem to enjoy it – most of the time!


      1. I was thinking of something less mentionable: ‘piggy horny’. 🙂 And I’d guess that even for ze Germans you’d have to live in a barn on an island in a lake on an island in another lake to be able to say ‘kein Problem’ to that. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Ah, denial. From the old Egyptian. When people jumped into De Nile, they forgot all about everything else going on in their lives…
          OK, I’ll stop now 😉


  5. You managed to get drivel in the post and make me hungry for sausage! I love this post because I am an etymology nerd. I am sad to learn this is not true, good detective work all the same!

    Liked by 1 person

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