A couple of examples of black-GI slang influenced by German

Wilson Gray hwgray at EARTHLINK.NET
Mon Jul 26 23:08:50 UTC 2004

"Bop the strahss" : go for a casual walk or stroll along the
sidewalk(s) through town, just checking out the happenings,  wherein
"strahss" is clearly based on German "Strasse" street.

"Put the shprekken on [someone]" : a host meanings, such as, provide
someone with needed information; run a confidence game on someone; tell
someone like it T I tiz; attempt to seduce a woman; tell someone the
latest rumor or gossip, etc., wherein "shprekken" is clearly based on
German "sprechen" speak.

"Cumrad" : like "Comrade" [< G Kamerad] Mil. in W. Germany a German as
in DHAS, but otherwise different. In WWII movies and comic books,
Wehrmacht soldiers shout "Kamerad" and, perhaps, show a white flag, as
a sign of surrender. Since then, black GI's have used "Cumrad" as the
essential, insulting term for "German" in any context whatsoever, like
"Kraut" used by white GI's. "Cumrad," however, is both singular and
plural, plus collective and individuative.

Hence, we would say, e.g. "I was going to bop the strahss, till I saw
Cumrad." I was going to go for a walk till I saw how many indigenous
personnel [the official military term] were on the street. The problem
was that the average Doob(ie) - the insulting term for a German used by
Russian-speaking GI's in the Army Security Agency - man-in-the-street
tended to react with stunned, drop-jawed shock and awe to the sight of
anyone who was obviously not a German (unless he was a Turk), even if
he was white (German guys already wore, in the late '50's, what came to
be known as the Beatle haircut, so that the fact that you weren't a
German was given away by your GI haircut, even if you were otherwise
white and relatively short), let alone black. So, no black GI's would
want to walking, if there were a lot of Germans already on the street.
Americans are taught at least to pretend not to stare. Not so with
Cumrad. Being  6' 4" tall, weighing 205, and clearly of African
descent, I LITERALLY STOPPED TRAFFIC! Cumrad would come from all
directions to get a look at the monstrosity in their midst.  And
returning the look of Cumrad staring at you would not cause him to turn
away, making you feel like a zoo animal. Cumrad would bring his
children up to the table to stare at me, if I was trying to eat a meal
in a restaurant. A five-year-old, pointing, shouted across the town
plaza in Bernkastel, "Kuk, Mutti! Ein Mohr!" Look, Mom! A Moor!"

Of course, since nobody put the shprekken on Cumrad, the Germans didn't
realize that Cumrad was meant as an insult. Hence, it was possible to
address a German as Cumrad under any set of circumstances and said
German would always respond positively, thinking that we were
addressing him as a "comrade," as opposed to the "Kraut" used by white
GI's, and were, therefore, at least attempting to be friendly.

"Fraw" and "Frawline" (of obvious origin) were used the same way
syntactically, but differently semantically. Someone once said to me,
"Frawline is the queen of Europe," i.e. "German women are the most
beautiful in Europe."

-Wilson Gray

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