Friday, 17 July 2015

Nearly, But Not Quite Gone

When I was a kid, or if I was a German, then the word 'Puttertogetherers' would not have seemed odd. The Germans for example love these combined words, and as recently as 1999, in the state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, they came up with the word 'Rindfleischetikettierungsueberwachungsaufgabenuebertragungsgesetz' - meaning "law delegating beef label monitoring"  .... it has since been made redundant, after a change in EU laws removed its need, but the Germans have plenty more examples. We however rarely ever use this method of word formation, which makes 'Puttertogetherers' fairly, if not completely unique.

'Puttertogetherers' make these

My personal favourite out of the long list of such terms in German, are 'Donaudampfschiffahrtsgesellschaftskapitän', meaning "Danube steamship company captain", and there was once one for the man who tapped steam engine wheels but I can't recall what it was.

As Mark Twain put it in his 1880 book 'A Tramp Abroad', "Some German words are so long that they have perspective."

So you may be as surprised as I was to learn (or maybe not, seeing as I am writing about it in this post), that 'Puttertogetherers' is not actually a literal translation of some German term, but a genuine English word. It comes in fact from the scissors trade. Before mechanisation, all scissors were made by hand, and the last stage was to put the two blades together, and you have guessed it, that role was undertaken by the 'Puttertogetherers'.

Putting These Together Completes The Scissors.

In the UK, the firm Ernest Wright and Son Ltd of Sheffield, England, are probably the last factory in Britain still making scissors by hand .... and early in 2015, it looked as though they too might be about to close, and be about to join my disappearing world series of posts.

However, when a video by a showing how the scissors are made by the company, and posted on You Tube went viral, orders immediately went up, with a flood of requests from the US.

So for the moment, the 'Puttertogetherers' are still in operation.


  1. What an awful word, I'm glad that the practice didn't catchonatall.

    1. Well thankgodyournotagerman then, as one might say.


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