Competition: Imagine a ‘Pestschleuder’

A friend of mine just used the German word “Pestschleuder”. “Pest” means, well, pest: plague, disease. “Schleuder” means “sling”, “slingshot”, but a a salad spinner is also called a “Salatschleuder”.

I liked the word (I tend to like certain German words), and imagined… something… when I read it. Something that had nothing to do with its real meaning. My girlfriend imagined something completely different.

So here’s a little competition: imagine what a Pestschleuder looks like and describe it here in a comment. On Sunday, April 5th Andrea and I will judge the entries. The prize is honor plus something not yet determined – it depends on who and where you are ;). It’s really supposed to be fun thing to do. At least I had fun imagining my Pestschleuder.

Comments 27

  1. Eli wrote:

    This is my Pestschleuder:

    I’m afraid it’s only a sketch. Please visit the flickr page to see the full details on how it works.

    Posted 28 Mar 2009 at 16:09
  2. Damion S wrote:

    I’m gonna go with something akin to a ‘drama queen’ – someone for whom trouble seems to follow.

    Posted 28 Mar 2009 at 17:49
  3. Stephane wrote:

    I don’t have to imagine it. The word instantly reminded me of Flesh+Blood, in which a diseased carcass is catapulted into the well of a besieged castle, with gruesome consequences:

    Fun movie with a great cast (Rutger Hauer and Jennifer Jason Leigh).

    Posted 28 Mar 2009 at 19:43
  4. Jurie wrote:

    Great contributions so far! And all quite different.

    Posted 28 Mar 2009 at 21:14
  5. Jurie wrote:

    @Stephane Would you believe I’ve never seen Flesh and Blood, even though it’s one of the more well-known Dutch movies.

    Posted 28 Mar 2009 at 21:14
  6. Stephane wrote:

    It’s well worth watching. The first fantasy movie I saw that was both gross and funny.

    Posted 28 Mar 2009 at 22:17
  7. Howard wrote:

    To me, it sounds like a drunken Scotsman at a party trying to speak German: Pissed people.

    Posted 28 Mar 2009 at 22:27
  8. Andi wrote:

    For me, this just added into the documentary I just saw: It showed the way the CIA did research on distribution of bacteriological weapons on a city-wide scale, by dropping them into the New York subway system.
    The air currents would carry the bacteria all across the city and infect hundreds of thousand people within minutes. So right at this moment I couldn’t imagine a more effective Pestschleuder.
    Think about it, the next time you sneeze while waiting on a subway platform, or when that warm wind blows in your face, just before the train arrives…

    Posted 28 Mar 2009 at 23:45
  9. Mark wrote:

    This isn’t my official entry, but your contest instantly made me think of this variation on a schleuder-esque theme:

    Posted 29 Mar 2009 at 19:22
  10. Sathom wrote:

    This is NOT my offcial entry for now, either, but it kinda reminds me of a weapon from an old shooter, Unreal I. There was this BIOS-Gun which could fire a green goo of toxic waste, which would either explode on contact with living matter or stick to the floor, walls, etc. until something went across it (or explode by itself after a given time). Gee I loved that thing (I loved the shrinking and freezing cannons from Duke 3D or the Guardian Head from Shadow Warrior more, tough) ;-)

    Posted 29 Mar 2009 at 22:20
  11. Tobi wrote:

    I think I learned this in school – the Mongols actually catapulted plague infested carcasses into a besieged city. I was told a device to accomplish this is called a “Pestschleuder”.

    Posted 30 Mar 2009 at 0:18
  12. Sathom wrote:

    Okay, here’s my competition entry:

    In-depth research reveals that a Pestschleuder actually is no sling (nor any other kind of weapon, for that matter) at all. The truth is that the word can be divided into the terms ‘Pestschl’ and ‘Euder’, the latter being a sloppy way to pronounce the german word ‘Euter’ (= udder), a sloppiness of speech which is common to the dialect of a specific German region commonly being called ‘the white spot on the map’ or the ‘point of no return’, being located in middle-eastern halfway northern Saxony (though the inhabitants of the latter will deny this part of their country’s existence). Common folk belief in those parts has it that the Pestschl is a demonic, goat-like imp (not to confuse with the Austrian ‘Habergei├č’, which actually is not a goat, but a bird, just like mushrooms actually aren’t funghi, but dwarf hatchlings). Thus, a ‘Pestschleuder’ is the Euter/udder of a Pestschl. Which, however, by no means is called accidentally by a name reminding of plague, for feared by local farmers, the Pestschl will at night invade stables and ruin the whole place by spilling from it’s udder a smelly fluid, which emits a miasmatic stench, and the very touch of which causes diarrhoea, convulsive vomiting, and sponteaneous, explosive growth of pimples from hell. Animals present in the stable when this happens will only give sour milk from then on, except if they’re chicken, which instead will start laying eggs of a non-Euclidean shape. A general means of protecting stables and houses from the Pestschl is to spit over one’s shoulder three times, eat a bar of butter and then say aloud: ‘Pestschl, Pestschl, geh nur weidder, leer woanners deine Euder’ (Pestschl, Pestschl, just move on, empty your udder elsewhere). People wishing their neighbours ill can, with a modification of this spell, also try to send the Pestschl over to these (like, saying: ‘leer beim Huber deine Euder’ (empty your udder at Huber’s place), which, however, is awkward; several people trying to do this to each other at the same time can make the Pestschl go back and forth between their farms like a pinball, ruining the whole landscape, which is why in the 11th century the church installed a public penalty for doing this, which consisted of having to wear a Pestschleuderhut (Pestschl udder hat) while being fanny-whacked in public.

    (P.S.: the Habergei├č part is true, or else my folklore encyclopedia is crap.)

    Posted 30 Mar 2009 at 2:11
  13. Thaddaeus Frogley wrote:

    This reminds me of Call My Bluff*. :D

    A is Pestschleuder is clearly another name for a sneeze.



    Posted 30 Mar 2009 at 9:36
  14. Eli wrote:

    Sathom, you get top score. Awesome.

    Posted 30 Mar 2009 at 21:27
  15. Sathom wrote:

    @Eli: thanks a lot!

    Let’s see what the others yet come up with, though :-)

    I felt your entry was damn creative, too btw. – just having watched ‘Fringe’, I wonder if this could be used to tire out humans too (guess I should go to bed ;-) ).

    Posted 31 Mar 2009 at 0:54
  16. Thomers wrote:

    He’s a (verbal) pestschleuder

    Posted 31 Mar 2009 at 16:22
  17. wrote:

    Sathom: congrats, you made my Skype mood :)

    Posted 02 Apr 2009 at 10:18
  18. Jurie wrote:

    And the winner is… Sathom with his amazing discourse on German folklore. The runner-up is Eli for the great drawing. The prizes are dinner or a cocktail on me; come pick them up whenever convenient (during daytime hours).

    My image of a Pestschleuder was an autonomous, clockpunkish contraption made from wood and brass and resembling a ballista, rolling through the streets of Vienna while hurling disease in every direction. The missus imagined one of those Catholic incense buckets on a chain whirled around by priests – also a charming image.

    And Thad: you are right. I know that game as the dictionary game, and it’s a lot of fun if you play it with the right people.

    Posted 07 Apr 2009 at 9:38
  19. Tobi wrote:

    Your mental picture was actually somewhat accurate. See my entry (which I didn’t make up).

    But anyway, congratulations for being first hit on google for “Pestschleuder” now. I knew it all along! :)

    Posted 07 Apr 2009 at 13:06
  20. Jurie wrote:

    Not only that, but the entire first page of hits on Google is somehow related to this blog post… cool!

    My mental image was a bit like Stephen King’s The Mangler / Terminator, but with a ballista-like thing. But it was inspired by what you linked to – if I am not mistaken, that incident caused the Black Plague.

    Oh, and the friend who first introduced me to the word meant “something that spreads disease”. Specifically, himself.

    Posted 07 Apr 2009 at 13:23
  21. Sathom wrote:

    Gee. I don’t know what to say… I’m flattered, thank you *bows* :-)

    I guess the Raccoon already told you that I live in Berlin, Germany, and bec of this and of currently being damn short of, well, monetary means, I regrettably can’t just drop by (at least not very soon) – but I’ll be glad to get back to your invitation the instant it’s possible. I consider this an opportunity to finally meet both of you real life, which I look forward to very much :-)))

    Btw. that incense bucket thing… can’t help visualizing that *chuckle* Sounds like some nifty mayhem’n’madness (as does the ballista idea). I can picture the mess these would create right before me.

    Oh, and congrats for the Google pole position :-)

    Posted 09 Apr 2009 at 0:33
  22. Jurie wrote:

    Sathom: maybe we’ll come visit you! I’ve only ever been in Berlin once and hardly saw the place.

    Posted 09 Apr 2009 at 9:24
  23. Sathom wrote:

    Jurie: that would be great too. I’d very much enjoy to show you guys around – not just the usual tourist tour, too (if desired, that could be taken too, of course). Kreuzberg, of course, would be a must (as would be the Zyankali Bar there).

    I never was in Vienna (and in Austria in general only as a kid, on a rather unpleasant trip), however, so either way I hope I make it there eventually as well.

    Posted 11 Apr 2009 at 1:48
  24. Eli wrote:

    Wow, I only just read this now. Thanks for the cool competition! Maybe I’ll be able to redeem the prize some day, too. I also enjoyed learning what a real Pestschleuder is.

    ps. If you’re ever in the Holy Land, I’ll take you to the best hummus you’ll ever eat.

    Posted 12 Apr 2009 at 22:40
  25. Jurie wrote:

    Gah! I had to pass on a job in Israel last year due to bad timing… I would have loved to have taken you up on that.

    (In fact, I just made hummus for the first time in my lfe. Not bad, but not the best I ever had.)

    Posted 12 Apr 2009 at 22:48
  26. Michael Bernstein wrote:

    Since my daughter is often a pest…

    Posted 27 May 2009 at 16:53
  27. Jurie wrote:

    That is indeed an interesting interpretation of Pestschleuder :)

    Posted 10 Jun 2009 at 8:08