Lost in Translation: The Wesen of Grimm #2

Even though I am still not caught up with the show – again -, I’ll continue with looking at the different names for their Wesen in terms of what they really mean and what they should have been called to turn the names/terms into proper/actual German.

This is of course not meant to offend anyone involved in the show, but as a German native that really likes the German language, this just bugs me whenever I watch the show and they use it.

But let’s have a look at the different words, so you can form your own opinion.


Another frustrating thing about Wesen-names in Grimm are the missing dots (Umlaut), as the German bear is still a Bär after all.
But even with the Umlaut the word doesn’t make more sense.
Though, first let’s have a look at the actual term before we get into that.

Jägerbar consist of the words Jäger and Bar, while the first is the German term for hunter the second – without the Umlaut – is the word we use for bars/pubs, turning the name of a creature in the name of a pub for hunters. If you go a step further and use the Jager-version (Jagerbar) that I’ve seen on a picture, you get an even more alcoholic meaning (Jagertee is an alcoholic beverage created by hunters)…
Other meanings of Jager also include the name of a certain sail or the offspring of a Jaguar and a Tiger. 😉
Still, I don’t think either of these were the intended meaning.

So let’s add the Umlaute and make it Jägerbär (as they are named in the German version).
Here we now have Jäger and Bär, the Hunterbear, which feels a bit redundant as bears – from what I know – are natural hunters anyway…

In addition to the double meaning there is also the Roh-Hatz, the initiation ceremony of the Jägerbars, but before I get to that I feel the need to digress into the plural of bear…

One bear is a Bär, two bears are Bären, to create plurals we barely add an -s at the end of a word, we are more friends of the -e/en (incidentally the German plural of Bar is Bars too, but I guess that’s because we took that word from English), therefore the actual plural would be Jägerbären, which sounds even more ridiculous.

Anyway, let’s take a look at the raw-Coursing, which is the literal translation of Roh-Hatz. Just like saying the bear is a hunter the creators of these words felt the need to accentuate that what you are hunting/coursing is raw (meat). I would never have guessed that.
For clarification a Hatz (Coursing) is/was a kind of hunting (alternative translation Raw-Hunt), where three or more dogs chase after a certain prey to catch/kill it – much what the Jägerbars do with their human prey – but it is mostly forbidden to do that any more.
Still, it’s a fitting name for the ritual – at least the Hatz part.
I’m still certain that if you only used variations of  Bär and Hatz you’d have basically the same things.


This is one of the names that miss a letter to make it understandable for a German native, as the grammatical correct way to write Ziegevolk would be Ziegenvolk, meaning a population (Volk) of goats (Ziegen) or goat-like things (similar to what I told you about the German name of the Hässlichen last time – alternative meaning of Volk: nation).

Speaking of German names; in my initial Grimm Review I wrote a bit about the Ziegevolk:

The “Ziegevolk” […] became the “Ziegendämon” (Goat Demon”), while still portrayed as the original version in the Grimm Diaries

I do believe the demon sounds a bit more fitting, yet I don’t really see them as demon’s either. Still, Ziegenvolk for me sounds like a herd of these Wesen and not an individual.
Interestingly the plural of Ziegevolk seems to be Ziegevolk as well even though the plural of Volk is Völker (nations -> Ziegenvölker), which strengthens my association with the word being used for a herd.

As I’ve already mentioned the Grimm Diaries, let’s have a look what their entry actually (frustratingly) reads:

Die Ziegevolk, die manchmal auch als Bluebeards, sind eine Ziege-wie geschopf, das sah ich mit meinen eigenen Augen in München im winter 1805. Scheinen sie nicht gewalttatig. Die Gefahr kommt aus ihre instinktive Notwendigkeit der Rasse und scheinen sich nicht zu kummern. Menge uber die Qualitat.

Sie haben kurze Hörner wie eine Ziege.

Why frustratingly?
I’m literally covering my eyes at this monstrosity over here, as it sounds like a translation run through Google translate… – I only understood part of it through thinking the English-way and reading the translation provided on the Wiki itself (Ziege-wie? o.O ZIEGE-WIE???!! Seriously?! o.O ).
Well, this is how it should read:

Version 1 (changes in [ ] -brackets):

Die Ziege[n]volk, die manchmal auch als Bluebeards [(Blaubärte) bezeichnet werden], sind eine [ziegenähnliche G]esch[ö]pf[e], d[ie] sah ich mit meinen eigenen Augen in München im [W]inter 1805 [gesehen habe]. S[ie s]cheinen sie nicht gewaltt[ä]tig [zu sein]. Die Gefahr kommt aus [der] instinktive[n] Notwendigkeit der Rasse [sich fortzupflanzen(?), es scheint sie nicht zu stören] und scheinen sich nicht zu kummern. Menge [ü]ber die Qualit[ä]t.

Sie haben kurze Hörner wie eine Ziege. (<- The only correct sentence…)

Version 2 (easier readable version):

Die Ziegenvolk, die manchmal auch als Bluebeards (Blaubärte) bezeichnet werden, sind ziegenähnliche Geschöpfe, die ich mit meinen eigenen Augen in München im Winter 1805 gesehen habe. Sie scheinen nicht gewalttätig zu sein. Die Gefahr kommt aus der instinktiven Notwendigkeit der Rasse sich fortzupflanzen, es scheint sie nicht zu stören. Menge über die Qualität.

Sie haben kurze Hörner wie eine Ziege.


The Ziege[n]volk, sometimes referred to as [Blaubärte (Bluebeards)], are goat-like creatures as I saw with my own eyes in Munich in Winter 1805. They do not seem to be violent. The danger comes from the necessity of the race [to repopulate, which does not seem to matter to them]. Quantity over the Quality.

They have short horns like a goat.

I still do not know what they mean by “necessity of the race” I do believe there are a few words missing like “to reproduce”, “to repopulate” or something similar to it that’s why I added the “fortpflanzen“, which is the German term for it, but the last few sentences of that paragraph are lacking any kind of information anyway, so it’s all a bit of hit and miss here (with more miss than hit to be honest).

So, yeah: Missing letter, completely wrong description, right now I feel like they don’t even care about being anywhere near correct usage of the language…

Not to mention the absurdity that is their Geruck gland, which would actually be the Geruchsdrüse (smell gland, the s being a letter indicating that it is a gland for smell). I’m aware that the English pronunciation of the German ch sounds like a ck, but spelling it out does not improve this.

Though, I do have to say that I like the Bluebeard connection as that is quite an interesting Tale (if your German is good enough) in itself.


Where Hässlich was based on an adjective Reinigen is based on a verb, which makes as much sense – or not. Anyway etwas reinigen means to clean something and as Reinigen are based on rats, it seems to be quite a far stretch as rats usually aren’t really associated with being clean, even though they are in fact quite cleanly (reinlich). Still, Reinigen to me feels like someone has to clean something up (Grimms cleansing the world of Reinigen perhaps?) and not like the name for a species – or whatever exactly a Wesen is.

In German they tried a different approach by calling them Nagerstein. It makes just as much sense.
Nager or Nagetiere is the German term for all kinds of rodents (including rats, mice, guinea pigs,…), as for the Stein (stone): No idea how that happened. I know Stein is occasionally used as reference to places, but I do not see any reason why this would be in the name for this Wesen. Besides: Nagerstein either sounds like a weird village or something for rodents to chew on.

For some reason the word “Ratigan” is stuck in my head when I think about these Wesen, I know it’s the name of a Disney villain, but well, it does seem more fitting than Reinigen…

Interestingly enough the Reinigen have two other terms associated with them: Reini-bashing and Riesen-Ratte. The first is basically a word play on Reinigen-bashing, so not much to do there.
The Riesen-Ratte is a strange “spelling” of Riesenratte or riesige Ratte (basically meaning giant/large rat, the first being actual animals). The term is used for several Reinigen merging together into a giant entity to attack a foe. An alternative name for this is Rattenkönig (rat king), which in folklore and real life is basically a bundle of rats whose tails are intertwined, so they didn’t do that much wrong with this one at least.


There is not that much I can say about Eisbibers, accept that it feels like another redundant name and the plural being wrong, again.

While beavers (Biber) aren’t that much known to live in ice (Eis) water and are more common in rivers, one can argue that the water in the river is indeed quite icy, so you’d at least have some reasoning for the name (and actual beavers mate during winter when their dams are frozen over). Still, as with the German version of Hässlich (Rattentroll) you could also argue that it sounds that there are more kinds of Bibers (Flussbiber/Riverbeaver or Tropenbiber/Tropicalbeaver, perhaps?).
Then again, we don’t really know the ancestral family tree of Wesen, so who knows?

Like I said before is the German plural rarely formed with an -s and in case of the Biber it even remains the same word.
Incidentally – and on an entirely different note – do I remember a trip from primary school where we took a river tour and one of my classmates asked whether we’d see “Bibers, Adlers” and others using the wrong plural for either of them. I do believe Beaverers and Eaglerers would be a sufficient way of showing what Bibers and the like feel like to a German native.


Another missing letter here with the Bauerschwein as the grammatically correct usage of Bauer (farmer) would be Bauern- (as in Bauerntöpel/farm idiot or bumpkin), making it Bauernschwein, the farmer pig – or peasant pig as it’s officially translated. You could use this word to describe them, but you don’t have to. It sounds like it’s describing an animal on a farm and not a creature walking around outside of them, but that seems to be a basic issue with these names.

And just like I said before: It also implies there are different kinds of pigs (Schweine).
Which might be the case as there is the mention of a Wild Schwein (actually Wildschwein, meaning wild boar), but no one is entirely sure if Monroe simply used a different name or is actually referring to a different Wesen…

Though there could be an entirely different take on the word Bauernschwein as well, as Schwein in German – just as pig/swine in English – doesn’t only stand for pig but also for nasty person and thus making the name refer to a nasty farmer or even farmer bastard (farming bastard? bastard farmer?). Not entirely sure, but this seem to be a more fitting usage to their character, even though it’s basically an insult.

References and Notes

Well, that’s it already.
I hope you enjoyed this little excursion into the usage of my native language in this particular television show.

My major source for names and appearances of the different Wesen is this  Grimm Wikipedia and obviously my experience with the show itself. (Did I ever mention that I really like Wikipedias? Oh, yes, I did.)

As you can see from the title is this post part of the Lost in Translation-series. If you’re interested check out what other shows toy with the German language or culture. If you watch/ed a series or movie where German was/is involved, let me know and I will check out if they have done it justice.

Do you have a Wesen or phrase you want covered? Let me know and I’ll make sure to add them in one of the next parts.
Otherwise I’ll just keep going through the episodes adding the new Wesen to the list.



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