In this year’s taz.berlin advent calendar we present many nice games to match the winter shutdown. Today: The encyclopedia game.
Many words for long winter evenings can be found, for example, in the Brockhaus Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Oliver Berg
Just words, yes. But you can also occupy yourself with them. Look at them closely. Be amazed. Take "jungle," for example: A mysterious, dazzling word. "The large Wahrig explains it as "subtropical jungle of India. But it gets really exciting when it comes to the question of gender. The jungle can be male. And female, the. If you want, you can even choose the neuter form, the jungle. At least that’s what it says in my 1980 edition of the dictionary, which very presently grants Dschungel a grammatical gender fluidity.
And with this thick book, you’re already in the game: It can be the Wahrig or another dictionary, because that’s what you need to guess words in the dictionary game. Everyone needs a pencil and a sheet of paper to write it down when it comes to formulating and recognizing lexicon definitions. One person chooses a term that is best unknown to the other players, the others come up with a suitable definition, which is then read out together with the "correct" lexical entry. All players say which explanation they think is the right one; points are awarded for guessing correctly and for the definition that the other players thought was the right one.
The points can be added up if you want to see winners in the round. Or one simply enjoys the search for meaning in turn and how the words are clothed with the meaning that suits them best. Fake news with poetry. For example, when the word "brauschen" is explained as "to flare up" and a rhyme shoved into Rilke’s shoe is noted to confirm it: "Wenn es drauben brauscht im Wald, fall’n die Blatter ab vor der Zeit." (When it fizzles outside in the forest, the leaves fall off before time).
What does brauschen really mean? You can look it up. Small linguistic fouls of the respective word giver increase the pleasure: the strolling-striking "Go Slow" already has a different charm as Goslow with possibly Slavic language background.
Whether this is suitable for families has to be tried out. It should also work via video conference. Or you do it alone and browse the lexicon in search of new meaning, from A to cystitis, which doesn’t sound quite so healthy, that might be the right word for … after all.