Kicks: an obsolete German word only to be used in other Central European languages?
Thread poster: eoneo
eoneo
Local time: 00:25
Jun 14, 2010

According to dictionaries, Danish, Polish, Czech, Slovak, Slovene, Croatian, Serbian, Macedonian, Romanian, and Estonian have the word 'kiks' and its verbal forms in the meaning of 'blunder, blooper, error, etc.' with some semantic variations (for example, Norwegian has only the meaning of miscue in the billiards).
The word is originally borrowed from German pseudo-Anglicism 'Kicks', which means miscue in the billiards and blunder in general (as to etymology I'm not quite certain, because it also looks related to kieksen').
However, curiously enough, the word seems to be almost out of use in current German, although I can find 'Kicks' in many (probably outdated) German dictionaries.
This situation seems as if German had completely handed it over to other languages.
Has anyone ever even heard of 'Kicks' or 'kicksen' in German?

[Edited at 2010-06-14 10:59 GMT]


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Mailand  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:55
Italian to German
+ ...
Kieken oder kieksen Jun 14, 2010

Personally I've never seen "Kiks" (other as a misspelt plural of "Kick" (english)). As a Northerner (Hamburg) I know "Kieken" = to watch, see, or "Kieksen" which indicates a high "catch" in ones voice, as a boy who is about to change his voice in adolescence or someone doing it when he/she is upset or excited, which probably comes closest to the meaning indicated: an "error" in the voice, modulation. I have to admit, though, that the more I think about it, I believe my father used "Kick" (or "Kik", only ever heard the word, never seen it written down) to indicate an imperfection in a material, e.g. when he would use a saw on a piece of wood and find a roughness to the resulting edge ("Da ist ein Kick drin"). But that would be about 30 years ago!

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david_m_weeks
United States
Local time: 07:55
German to English
+ ...
<i>kicksen</i> = <i>gicksen</i>? Jun 14, 2010

Langenscheidt's New College German Dictionary (1973) offers Kicks/kicksen 'miscue', with no other senses. Duden Deutsches Universal Wörterbuch does not list this sense, but makes both kicksen and kiecksen merely variants of gicksen, meaning both Mailand's "break suddenly into falsetto" and "mit einem spitzen Gegenstand stechen, stoßen." According to Kluge, this gicksen dates back to OHG, from an expressive onomatopoetic form like giks 'yelp'. An OHG/MHG date would account for its spread to other Central European languages, but I've found no explanation for a semantic shift to 'blunder' or 'miscue'.

An origin (or inspiration) in English kick seems very doubtful, as I've found no evidence that the English word ever had any of these meanings. (We might wonder whether Eng. catch [in the voice] is related, but that's neither here nor there.) Apparently there is a sense "take a bad bounce" (in football), but that's not much more helpful.

In short, you may be right to be skeptical of kicksen. If the translation "miscue" works in the context, it's probably safe to use it. But finding a word in numerous dictionaries is no guarantee it's legitimate: they often propagate each others' errors far and wide for decades.

[Edited at 2010-06-14 21:23 GMT]


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eoneo
Local time: 00:25
TOPIC STARTER
Etymological question Jun 15, 2010

I think I may provisionally conclude that the word 'Kicks' and 'kicksen' in the sense of blunder, miss, etc. is no more used in German and it may have disappeared from average Germans' word-stock even early in the 20th century.
In fact, as far as I know, Das Deutsche Wörterbuch der Brüder Grimm does not mention anything about English when it comes to the etymology of Kicks.
However, many dictionaries and academic articles relate the word Kicks (or kiks in Danish and Slavic languages) to German pseudo-Anglicism.
It seems there is some kind of folk etymology or analogy working in the explanation of the etymology of Kicks/kiks.
That is, it is originally borrowed from a native German word which means a squeaky sound (in the billiards) and miscue, and then it is influenced by English 'kick', so that in some languages like Polish or Serbian 'kiks' particularly means 'miskick' even though it also means squeak or blunder in general.
Anyway, it is very interesting to know that almost no German native speakers seem to remember Kicks, but instead, it is quite extensively used in other languages such as Danish (at least much more often than in German) as a loanword.

[Edited at 2010-06-15 00:59 GMT]

[Edited at 2010-06-15 01:00 GMT]


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david_m_weeks
United States
Local time: 07:55
German to English
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Kicking and squeaking Jun 16, 2010

I think you've got it pretty well figured out.

. . . it is originally borrowed from a native German word which means a squeaky sound (in the billiards) and miscue

That, of course, is the semantic link I missed.

The only quibble I'd make is that rather than a strictly German creation, I wonder whether it isn't more likely an areal loanword, from an expressive Lautwort *giks 'squeak'. That could explain why it's more common in Danish, Estonian, and West Slavic, but apparently marginal in German (and lacking in Old Icelandic).

. . . and then it is influenced by English 'kick', so that in some languages like Polish or Serbian 'kiks' particularly means 'miskick' even though it also means squeak or blunder in general.

Which makes sense since (organized) football has probably become more prevalent than billiards in the past century or two. Even in the U.S., this soccer metaphor has crept into baseball, where a fielder who misplays a ground ball is sometimes said to have "booted" it.


[Edited at 2010-06-21 14:25 GMT]


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Andrzej Mierzejewski  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 16:55
Polish to English
+ ...
'kiks' in Polish Jun 17, 2010

Słownik Języka Polskiego (Polish Language Dictionary) published by the Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN (Poland's most serious institution in the language and dictionary sector) containts three entries for 'kiks':

1. pot. «niewłaściwe lub błędne posunięcie»
2. muz. «fałszywy ton»
3. «chybione uderzenie w grze w piłkę lub w bilard»

My translation:
1. colloquial: incorrect or erroneous push/move
2. music: false tone
3. ball missed in a ball game or billiards

I recall hearing 'kiks' most frequently during Polish soccer team matches ;-(
Don't know where the word came from.

AM


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Kicks: an obsolete German word only to be used in other Central European languages?

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