Thomas Hanke thomashanke at EMAIL.DE
Tue Jun 24 20:57:46 UTC 2008

Dear all,

just two little observations

David wrote
> PS Lots of the Indonesian examples that came up in the search involved
> metaphorical usages of 'crack', mostly involving things like 'code'.  Which
> leads me to wonder:  In languages such as German in which father can't crack
> the vase, can he crack the code?  (Hebrew, which is like German in this
> respect, uses a different verb for cracking codes, the same verb used for
> cracking and breaking open things like nuts, and it can behave transitively
> for both nuts and codes.)

German behaves the same in this respect:
Nüsse knacken – 'crack nuts'
Einen Code knacken – 'crack a code'

That reminded me of the noun "Knacks" and  the verb "anknacksen" – obviously somehow related to knacken.
I would classify them as non-formal, casual.
"Anknacksen" can refer to bones, eggs,  self-confidence, abstract notions

"Knacksen" without applicative "an-" means 'crackle, e.g. wood in a
fire or little twigs on a way'). I'm pretty sure vases cannot "knacksen".

"Knacks" or "anknacksen" may be limited to some region – 'my German' (Northern,
Eastern Ruhrgebiet to be precise).

The passive particple / adjective "angeknackst" sounds more familiar
and is indeed much more frequent online. I'd use it for Paolo's notion
of "being partially fractured though without the parts completely
separate or without the whole completely destroyed".

To get back to Frans' original set:

>Die Vase hatte einen Sprung.            (transitive verb of possession, with deverbal noun as object)

Die Vase hatte einen Knacks.

>Die Vase war gesprungen.                (existential copula, stative-resultative participle of [intransitive] verb)

Die Vase war angeknackst.

>Die Vase sprang.                        (intransitive verb, a verb of movement, literally designating a sudden spring from the ground)

?? Die Vase knackste (an) / ?? Die Vase ist dann angeknackst.

>Die Vase bekam einen Sprung.    (inchoative verb, lit. 'to get',
                               with deverbal noun as object)

Die Vase kriegte nen Knacks. (choice of verb is just a matter of style)


>Remarkably, though a native speaker, I find no way of expressing this straightforward state of affairs in German, other than in extremely roundabout ways ('Father was careless and did something to the vase that resulted in its having a crack', or such).

"Papa hat die Vase angeknackst" fills exactly that gap for me.

Well, the first google results deal either with body parts or abstract
notions. There are some results from Southern media, too.
Although my native speaker's judgments feel a little "angeknackst" by now.

Thomas Hanke
Berlin Utrecht Reciprocals Project
FU Berlin, English Linguistics
-- -- --
**new email address**
thhanke at

More information about the Lingtyp mailing list