Spieglein, Spieglein an der Wand

Okay, I was reading some Swiss political facebook groups (Actually… this is a good source of material in your target language if you’re interested – at least I think so)

Annnyway. I came across

“Spieglein, Spieglein an der Wand …”

Which… well it’s wrong. First, the evil queen in Snow White says “Magic mirror on the wall”. I see the commonly misquoted “Mirror mirror” has been translated incorrectly into German. However – I’ve never seen Spieglein. Obviously it means mirror but it does not show up the dictionary or duden. I’m more or less just curious… why is this not Spiegel, Spiegel an der Wand? Is Spieglein some old word for Spiegel?

It’s a diminutive form of Spiegel, I think.

The ending “-lein” generally has this effect: Buchlein (little book) for example.

There are other such endings too, like “-chen” as in Mädchen or Bisschen.

(In the beautiful south, though, they often use “-el” or -le" instead. Hence “Mädel” and “Bissle”.)

Ah, my Bayern, will I ever see thee again? :slight_smile:

@Easy_Rider: You’re right. “Spieglein” is the tiny version for “Spiegel”. But the version for Buch is In fact “Büchlein”.

@spatterson: By the way, the original version is GERMAN. Snow White is a fairy tale from the Grimm brother’s which are German! Literatur - Kultur - DER SPIEGEL

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Thanks for the correction - I never could remember those rogue "ü"s :wink:

@Easy_Rider: Don’t worry. I find them strange myself if I start think about them. But for me as a native speaker, they come just naturally :wink:

“By the way, the original version is GERMAN.”

I had no idea!

»Spieglein, Spieglein an der Wand,
Wer ist die Schönste im ganzen Land?«

Man, that’s better than the English!

@spatterson: With fairy tales you have the same problem as with a lot of classical literature: The language is often a kind of outdated. If you don’t mind it is ok. Personally I would not recommend classicals and fairy tales for language learners. Students often think they must be easy because it is “Children’s literature”, but this is a wrong conclusion.


Die Antwort auf die Frage lautet übrigens: “Claudia Schiffer”! :slight_smile:

@Colin: Have you thought the Grimm’s are English?

How interesting. I totally forgot Snow White was a Brother’s Grimm tale. The diminutive ending makes sense. I just found it strange they switched the the “el” in Spiegel to “le”. Thanks

If you want to find ‘old’ words you should have a look at Der digitale Grimm :: Startseite where you find a link to the “Deutsches Wörterbuch von Jacob Grimm und Wilhelm Grimm”. The direct link is Wörterbuchnetz Unfortunately ‘Spieglein’ is not included. But you find it here: dict.cc | Spieglein | English Dictionary

The Grimm brother’s did not only collect fairy tales, they started with the big project of a dictionary of the German language. You can read more about it here: Deutsches Wörterbuch – Wikipedia

@ Vera

I don’t know what “the Grimm’s” is.

@Colin: Brüder Grimm – Wikipedia

Thanks. I think I will read this Schnee Weiß, or whatever it’s called, this afternoon.

I wonder what other things I thought were originally written in English were actually German.

Another tidbit of useless information:

Unlike the English language version of the ending of (German) fairy stories “and they lived happily ever after”, the German ending is: “und wenn sie nicht gestorben sind, so leben sie noch heute.” Much more realistic, don’t you think?

Puss in Boots and Cinderella were originally French, I think by Perrault? The brothers Grimm collected their stories by travelling through Germany to search for stories the locals told (and to come to the root of some of those they unearthed). So theirs is a true collection of fairy tales.

Although Hans-Christian Andersen “manufactured” his stories, ie they were not based on folklore, they are still magical.

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Spieglein, Spieglein an der Wand,
Wer ist die Schönste im ganzen Land?

Magic mirror on the wall,
who is the fairest one of all?

Have you ever heard how the Russian version by Pushkin sounds! It is not a translation but a fairy tale with a very similar idea.

Свет мой, зеркальце! скажи,
Да всю правду доложи:
Я ль на свете всех милее,
Всех румяней и белее?

Spieglein = klein Spiegel?
Does it mean the small mirror hanged on the wall? May the brothers just use this form of the word and ‘hanged’ the mirror onto the wall (she did not had the small mirror in her hands) just to have the rhyme?

“und wenn sie nicht gestorben sind, so leben sie noch heute.”

And the tautology of the day award goes to German writers of fairy tales.

Here you can even see a photographie of the mirror and learn more about Schneewittchen: Schneewittchen – Wikipedia

Yes, Spieglein, Spieglein, “little mirror, little mirror” is used rhythmically. (And the Russian sounds so lovely! (Goes off to check the translation.))

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Oh my god, I cannot believe they referred to Snow White using the neuter pronouns for the entire story. I cannot think of anything more offputting than for a girl to be called ‘es’. Also, I can’t believe she was only seven years old.

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