Does this word have another meaning?

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My wife and I are occasional visitors to Germany but we barely know any of the language.  We were there, dining with our German friends in a restaurant the other day.  One of the desserts was called "quark", something I had never come across on a menu before.  This caused great merriment with our friends at one stage.  We thought it was because of the way the waitress said Quark?" when bringing the dish to our table sounded like a bit like a duck's quack.  I know this doesn't sound very funny written down.  Nevertheless we had the impression there might be yet another reason for their laughter.  Does the word, or one sounding like it, have another amusing/less polite meaning? 

 

I'd be interested to have your thoughts.  

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I'm guessing they were either amused by your pronunciation ("Kvark" does sound a bit like a duck's quacking to English-speaking ears) or your lack of familiarity with it.

 

Wikipedia has an extensive article on the subject (the dairy product, that is; not German amusement).

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5 hours ago, Aldaniti said:

Does the word, or one sounding like it, have another amusing/less polite meaning? 

 

Yes, indeed it does and it's quite possible that during your conversation you inadvertently used it in a way which could have been interpreted ambiguously. It's not a particularly impolite word but is often used to substitute for a cruder alternative.

 

Apart from an edible dairy product it could also mean 'nonsense' or a 'trifle/ trifling matter'

 

Whether the usage might fall into an area of double entendre would depend very much on context but I could certainly imagine a German version of Kenneth Williams reacting with an exaggerated raised eyebrow to a waitress saying "Quark?"

 

Quote

Bedeutungen:

[1] geronnenes, weiß ausgeflocktes Eiweiß (Kasein) der Kuhmilch

[2] Unsinn

[3] belanglose, unwichtige Sache

Synonyme:

[1] Glumse; Österreich, Süddeutschland: Topfen; rheinisch: Klatschkies

[2] Blödsinn, Humbug, Quatsch; grob: Scheiß

[3] Kleinigkeit; grob: Dreck, Scheiß, Schiss

Beispiele:

[1] Quark enthält viel Eiweiß und Mineralstoffe.

[2] Red' keinen Quark!

[2] Das ist doch absoluter Quark, was du da von dir gibst!

[3] Die beiden streiten sich um jeden Quark.

[3] Er muss sich um jeden Quark selber kümmern, von Delegieren hat er noch nie was gehört.

Redewendungen:

aus dem Quark kommen

Quark mit Soße

Charakteristische Wortkombinationen:

[3] um jeden Quark

Source > https://de.wiktionary.org/wiki/Quark

 

Translation of above text:

Quote

Meanings:

[1] coagulated, white flaked protein (casein) of cow's milk

[2] nonsense

[3] unimportant, unimportant matter

 

Synonyms:

[1] Glumse; Austria, Southern Germany: Topfen; Rhineland: Klatschkies

[2] nonsense, humbug, nonsense; crude: shit

[3] trifle; crude: dirt, shit, crap

 

Examples:

[1] Quark contains a lot of protein and minerals.

[2] Do not talk Quark!

[2] That's absolute Quark, what you're giving out!

[3] The two argue about every Quark.

[3] He has to take care of every Quark himself, he has never heard of delegating.

 

Turn of speech:

get out of the Quark

Quark with sauce

 

Characteristic word combinations:

[3] around every Quark

 

HTH

2B

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Thanks everyone.  Sorry for the belated gratitude, but I didn't get any email notifications about replies, which I had received on another topic.  

It seems that quark is quite an all-purpose euphemism and our friends' hilarity is now much more understandable.

I understand that context is key, but if someone wants to say "what a lot of nonsense" as opposed to the cruder "what a lot of cr*p" how can using quark be correct in both situations?

Nice one, AnswerToLife42, but I was warned never to read Finnegans Wake by someone who had.

And 2B, I am intrigued by the notion of a German Kenneth Williams.  

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56 minutes ago, Aldaniti said:

I understand that context is key, but if someone wants to say "what a lot of nonsense" as opposed to the cruder "what a lot of cr*p" how can using quark be correct in both situations?

 

The difference as to whether it is being used as a more polite or crude substitute usually depends more on the customary colloquial standard of the user or that of the company in which it is being used.

 

Consider two possible situations where the same person is a listener as part of a group of elderly ladies including their favourite wealthy aunt or amongst a group of simple working folk such as garage mechanics or cleaning ladies with whom they are on familiar terms.

 

In the first instance, on hearing a phrase like 'Rede kein Quark' or 'Das ist doch absoluter Quark, was du da von dir gibst!' they would automatically assume the substiution was meant for 'nonsens' (auf deutsch) whereas in the second instance it would be fairly safe to assume that if they had not been there the probability could be that the word 'Scheiss' might have been used instead.

 

It's just one of those words the usage of which is instinctively recognizable by native speakers or practiced users. There are many comparative colloquialisms in British English which are acquired by their users in everyday speech whilst growing up but may yet be quite unfamiliar to American, Canadian, Australian, Irish or even other British folk from different regions or even social backgrounds within the UK.

 

2B

 

PS: If you want to increase your awareness of such colloquialisms and learn a lot of other common vocabulary which German nationals acquire as children outside their own German classes I highly recommend you try finding some German crossword puzzle books aimed at the childrens market.

 

You can buy them for a Euro or so in any German main railway station bookshop. As your knowledge grows you should soon move up the age range from the simplest ones for primary school kids via the more up to date teen language ones and then the simple adult versions.

 

Within a year or so you might well be up to the general knowledge daily adult newspaper level. By the time you start cracking cryptic ones you'll have learned a lot about German politics, history, geography, literature and other cultural matters too.

 

If you won't be in Germany for a while there are several free online German crossword sites you can practice on. Look up "Kreuzwort+.de" in google for some links.

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Thanks again, 2B,  My knowledge of German is so elementary I'd better steer clear of colloquialisms for the time being, but it's useful to learn that a little informal tuition (ie simple crosswords) could complement more formal study.

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