Heide Klum is an übermodel

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But, what does that mean?

When I tell my students in Germany and Austria that über is used like an adjective in English, something is übercool, they always gap in amazement. How did the meaning of ‘über’ get twisted around from being a preposition in German to an adjective in English?

From an innocent philosophers musings of a high state of being to humanity to Superman being an evil genius, the journey of ‘über’ from German to English is full sinister twists and backstabbing,:

The German ‘über’ stems from both Latin super and Greek ὑπέρ (hyper).

In German ‘über’, both by itself and as a prefix, means to be ‘over/above’ or ‘to go over’ something, i.e. es steht über der Tur – it’s above the door, ‘sie springen über die Mauer’- ‘they are jumping over the wall’.

In English ‘uber’ becomes an adjective, indicating that the person or thing being described is on the top of their respective field, i.e. Heidi Klum is an Ubermodel. The closest corresponding term in German would be ‘ober’ – ‘upper’, ‘superior’, as in ‘Oberschenkell’ – ‘thigh’ or ‘Oberweite’ – ‘Bust’, ‘Oberst’ – ‘Colonel’.

So, how did ‘uber’ go from being a preposition in German to an adjective in English?
Ãœber first came to English through the works of the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, in his discussions of the ‘Ãœbermensch’, to refer to a higher-state of being to which humans could aspire. George Bernard Shaw made the term popular through the title of his 1903 play Man and Superman.

After Hitler and the Nazi’s twisted to meaning of Nietzsche’s phrase to mean a race of super beings, Jerry Siegel, a Jewish-American comic book writer, used the term for his 1933 series ‘The Reign of Superman’, where superman was an evil genius. There is even a Saturday Night Live scetch from the 70s, hypothesizing what would have happened if Superman, now called Ãœberman, had landed in Nazi Germany instead of the US. Only later through Joseph Schuster would Superman become the hero we know today.

‘Uber’ became part of surfer and punk slang “in the early 80′s by hardcore American punk band, the Dead Kennedys when using the term in the anti-Californian government song “California Uber Alles”, itself a take on the German (National Anthem) of ‘Deustchland Ãœber Alles’ (only the third stanza being the official German National Anthem today” (urbandictionary.com). The original meaning of the Deutschlandlied, as the song was originally called, was again twisted by the Nazis to mean German superiority over the world instead of call for unifying the German speaking lands as was originally meant to be, when the lyrics were written by August Heinrich Hoffmann von Fallersleben in 1841.
Gradually ‘uber’ worked its way into common usage, mostly through the internet.

So, only after a long, hard struggle did, ‘uber’, gain a respected, albeit strange, place in the English vernacular.

Sources:
Urbandictionary.com
Wikipedia.com Ãœber, California Uber Alles, Deutschlandlied
Wiktionary.com Uber

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36 Responses to Heide Klum is an übermodel

  1. Evan Owen says:

    Deutschland Uber Alles

    The nice version — minus the Nazis! :smile:

  2. Anonymous says:

    Nice guest article, but the writer needs a little extra tutoring from our dear teacher Marina — bryhild 84 formed the plural of “Nazi” incorrectly — it should be “Nazis, not “Nazi’s” (which is the possessive form). For some reason, this incorrect use of the apostrophe is becoming ubiquitous online.

  3. O'Chu Chu says:

    Bah! Think about all the opportunities! And forget the losses!!! Think that you now could be Me Lika Do El Cho Cho, or even Me Lika Do Al Chi Chi, Cha Cha!!! Business!!! Growth!!! Fame!!! MONSTER FAME!!!!!!

    • Me Lika Do The Cha Cha says:

      Opportunities??!!
      Growth? Business? WTF?
      Dude, it crashed my brand new system.
      I only just now got it back up…
      “Drugs are bad, hm’kay?”

  4. Aj says:

    I was never in the the punk seen but I had friends who were TOTAL punkers and that is one of the 1st punk songs I ever heard and I’ve kept it in my collection ever since. Nice connection there! :-)

  5. Anonymous says:

    Cute :-)

  6. Anonymous says:

    PaparazziKid, what don’t you like about DISQUS comments?

  7. hotrocky says:

    Heide is beautiful, no doubt, but she is also generically beautiful. Marina, I find you exotically beautiful. Nobody else looks like you. Of the two of you, I much prefer Marina.

    Rocky Frisco

  8. Hankhoogwater says:

    The comments here are looking puuzzled.

  9. VenomRocK says:

    Excellent article brynhild84. :-)

    ….very good on “California Ãœber Alles” by the Dead Kennedys. B-)

  10. HotForWords says:

    Be patient guys.. I’m adding in Disqus comments which will make the comments so much better.. only problem is that I have 184,000 comments which will take a while to all copy over.

  11. PaparazziKid says:

    It’s the disqus comments, they are not that good

  12. PaparazziKid says:

    It’s the disqus comments, they are not that good

    • Me Lika Do The Cha Cha says:

      I already said what they (Dicks-US) are, but it got flagged. Guess we’ll be having LOTS of comments disappear, now! …and you won’t be notified of that! People will be flagging anything and everything – just watch it happen.

  13. GREGORY BEZANSON says:

    Uber is a great word as such, today. But superman as Nietzsche seems to have meant were superior men
    who would not let the means [a doing away with religious moral restraints to force humans to improve the human race] to create a new and better world [the ends]. For example, Lenin referred to the destruction of
    his political opponents and the socially backward peasant class as analagious to a cook who has to crack a few eggs if a cake is to be baked. Men as gods is a scary idea ; men, who claim to act in God’s name, can be also.

  14. Swampwiz says:

    Marina, can you comment on the pronunciation of the ы sound in Russian vs. the ü sound in German. As I understand it, they are very close, with ы being the close central unrounded vowel and ü being the close front rounded vowel

  15. hott4urblog says:

    If Marina had done this as a video…. it would be “uberhot” . Happy Turkey Day!! Break a Leg!

  16. Capman911 says:

    Great article on some of the German language., and especially Heidi Klum.

    • Me Lika Do The Cha Cha says:

      What happened to the comments? My computer is acting like it’s being attacked by viruses!

      • Capman911 says:

        I don’t know. I didn’t even receive your reply in my e-mail. I refreshed and there was your reply. I guess Marina is tweaking the comments section to work like You Tubes comment section. Where we can reply, flag, logout and edit the comments.

        • Me Lika Do The Cha Cha says:

          Just like a woman to go and change things without any warning at all !!
          Disqus doesn’t recognize my password, email, screenname – nada!
          It wants me to enable third party cookies! (So it can plant tracking cookies!)
          Webtrendslive.c0m and 2o7.n3t keep popping up. Those are keyloggers!!!

        • Me Lika Do The Cha Cha says:

          Just like a woman to go and change things without any warning at all !!
          Disqus doesn’t recognize my password, email, screenname – nada!
          It wants me to enable third party cookies! (So it can plant tracking cookies!)
          Webtrendslive.c0m and 2o7.n3t keep popping up. Those are keyloggers!!!

        • Me Lika Do The Cha Cha says:

          Next to your name (in blue) is a line which reads:(change settings)There is where you tell it to send you notifications. :mrgreen:
          Did you notice that Boris doesn’t appear in the ‘RECENT COMMENTS’ box?
          TIMMY!!!

        • Me Lika Do The Cha Cha says:

          Next to your name (in blue) is a line which reads:(change settings)There is where you tell it to send you notifications. :mrgreen:
          Did you notice that Boris doesn’t appear in the ‘RECENT COMMENTS’ box?
          TIMMY!!!

  17. leoNard says:

    No words can express my thoughts…. :lol: …thanks for sharing :-)

  18. Me Lika Do The Cha Cha says:

    “Deutschland über alles!” Sehr gut! … ist prima.’über’ now holds a place akin to ‘omni’ and ‘mega’as it’s used in American-English.A very good article. Thanks!

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