Organic What?!?

The sign translates “Organic Book Store (Books on Paper)”

This was in the bookstore window in Rinteln, Germany. “Bio-” in German is the same as “organic” in US English. Biokartoffeln, for example, means organic potatoes. “Organisch-” is reserved for things like organic chemistry and other industrial and chemical meanings, which is as it should be (IMHO).

After all the hue-and-cry about paper books being so much better than e-books and e-books are just going to disappear like the fad they are, I just had to take a photo of the cartoon. I don’t know if it was a poster or if it was clipped from a magazine or newspaper.

It was a bit more subtle than the following:

“Who loves* books buys [them] in the bookstore.” The sign was outside an old-n-used book store and was on a sandwich-board, about a meter tall by sixty centimeters wide.

*For those of us who learned German a “few” years ago, using the verb lieben to mean “love of books” is a bit jarring. You were only supposed to use Ich liebe to refer to an individual or G-d. Otherwise you said “Das/Der/Die gefält mich sehr.” Saying “Ich liebe Eis!” [I romantic love ice-cream] got you either giggles or seriously concerned sideways glances.

Edited to add: Good morning, Instapunderati! Thanks for stopping by.


25 thoughts on “Organic What?!?

  1. I’m glad German makes the distinction between “organic” food and organic chemistry. As applied to food the “organic” label we use here in the US always seemed inane to me. After all, who eats inorganic food?

    • That’s what causes eye-rolls at Redquarters. DadRed was a bio-chem major and MomRed was a biology major. The bottle of “organic water” was what led to such loud guffaws that a clerk came to see what mom and I were howling about.

      • I wondered about the stuff that was not merely water that proclaimed it was “Carbon-free Sugar.” Someone fell for or hoped their customers fell for the Carbon Credit nonsense.

      • I’m not sure that can top the “organic sea salt.”

        My only explanation is that the salt came from an organic sea.

      • Checking labels, I found that one brand of bottled water was advertised as “gluten-free”.

  2. “Saying “Ich liebe Eis!” [I romantic love ice-cream] got you either giggles or seriously concerned sideways glances.”

    Clearly, a classic example of frigidity – or is it the Eis Queen syndrome?


  3. It seems to me there was a similar distinction with ‘wohnen’ and ‘stehen.’ If you were room-mates, then “I with Ernest stehe.” If you were lovers, then “I with Ernest wohne.”
    I may have that backwards, though.
    Or perhaps it was ‘mit’ and ‘bei?’ Roomies bei Ernest stehe, while lovers mit Ernest stehe?

    I disremember.

  4. Granted we Germans have some funny notions, but it is ok to say “ich liebe Bücher”, when you really like books (or ice cream, for that matter). “Mir gefällt…” would show a much lower level of enthusiasm.

    • I learned German from an older Austrian (Viennese) professor in the early 1990s, so I suspect a great deal has changed in usage since then.

  5. Austrian here. “Lieben” is, IMHO, acceptable when speaking of books, but then I am a bibliophile. “Liebe zu etwas”, “love for sth.”, is broader in sense and usage, I would say.

    As an aside, “gefällt” requires an indirect object in the dative case: “Es gefällt mir”, a construction that parallelizes “it pleases me” (whom does it please? – dative case).

    @Pat Patterson, if you wish to express “to live with (e. g.) Lee” in the sense of a close relationship and a shared life, you say “ich lebe mit Lee zusammen”. “Ich wohne mit Lee zusammen” implies the same, i. e., shared bed and life.

    “Ich wohne bei Lee” means that you are a long-term guest or flat mate, and Lee is the owner or principal renter. “Ich wohne mit Lee in einer WG (Wohngemeinschaft)” specifically says that you are flat mates with Lee.

    Oh, and the “Bio” in “Bio-Obst” is as idiotic as “organic” in “organic fruit”. Truth in advertising would require something like “overpriced fruit without any proven advantages”.

    • The whole “organic” business is absolute silliness and, as you say, an excuse to charge higher prices for produce. In the US, there are some chemicals that are approved for use on “organic” crops that are more dangerous for people and for the environment than the “synthetic” pesticides are. I did some research for one of my employers on that topic back in the late 1990s and we were both surprised.

    • Well, according to former president Obama Austrian speak Austrian, therefore German is practically a foreign language for them.

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