Vielleicht hängt dieser wechsel zusammen mit einer vertauschung der beiden farben in irgend einem wappen.

[ Französisches Etymologisches Wörterbuch (FEW), sinopis, top of second column ]

The Beolingus dictionary gives, for Vertauschung, permutation, transposition, inversion error and mix-up. I would like to know whether from context1 the native speaker understands anything else than those, as in "perhaps this change is related to a mix-up with two colors in whatever crest", or whether you can also read this to mean an "occurrence" of both colors in a single (or even between two, as I can't tell whether Wappen is grammatically plural here because of irgend or by default) crest/coat of arms?

1 I'm briefly exploring the use of some colors in French heraldry. In blasonnement, that is the textual description of what is represented graphically, the word sinople is used to denote the green color. But before it meant green it used to mean red (nowadays gueules means red). The explanation in the TLFi (French dictionary) relies on the FEW :

[...] a désigné d'abord la couleur rouge, puis par un changement de sens inexpliqué la couleur verte (peut-être est-ce lié à une intervention des deux couleurs dans un quelconque blason? v. FEW, loc. cit.).

The highlighted word doesn't mean inversion/mix-up but rather the concurring action (the intervening) of both colors on whichever coat of arms. I suspect they wanted to write interversion (a French word meaning the swapping of, permutation), and therefore intervention would be a typo. So I'm checking the source (FEW) but have no experience whatsoever with the language. Sadly I can't speak/read German, so I had to put this to Translate after trying as best as I can to re-transcribe the text from the entry. The word abbreviated with "bed." must be Bedeutung, "meaning" from what I can tell. I have also found that Google wouldn't translate eigentumlich, but the aforementioned dictionary makes me think this must be an adverb as in "oddly/strangely". — To summarize my reading of a dictionary referencing the FEW in another language cast a doubt about the meaning of the sentence I presented in introduction, especially since I only have access to its machine translation because I have no knowledge of the language.

  • 2
    Remember, that nouns (like »Vertauschung«, »Wechsel«, »Farben«, »Wappen«) in German language ALWAYS have to be written with an uppercase first letter. I corrected that for you. Commented Dec 2, 2015 at 9:01
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    The way i understand it the author speculates about two colours being involuntarily exchanged. I'm not sure that mix-up transports that so clearly.
    – Burki
    Commented Dec 2, 2015 at 10:38
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    @Burki: Isn't that exactly what is expressed by mix-up? I was rather concerned that mix-up fails to express the colour switch may have been intentional (Vertauschung can be both deliberate or accidental). Commented Dec 2, 2015 at 11:49
  • @O.R.Mapper i don't trust my english enough to say for certain if it does, so i thought i'd jsut add the details
    – Burki
    Commented Dec 2, 2015 at 11:51
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    @HubertSchölnast: Die falsche Schreibweise stammt aus dem Original. Commented Dec 2, 2015 at 13:40

2 Answers 2


Your translation is mostly correct. I would translate the sentence as

Perhaps this change is related to a mix-up of these two colors in some crest.

I'm actually not certain whether the author is speculating about an error that happened when creating a description of a crest, misnoming the colors, or an actual change in the colors of said crest that lead to confusuin due to outdated descriptions still being used.

  • Thank you ! So basically you're saying this is easily translated but that doesn't immediately tells us what might have happened (the speculation you describe). Do you confirm that the sentence refers to only one crest? Do the words preceding Wappen hint that we're talking about one specific historical crest that the author might have seen?
    – user19299
    Commented Dec 2, 2015 at 18:50
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    I don't think that the author has seen anything suspicious that might qualify for the cause of the change in meaning, no. He is not talking about a specific crest, just speculating that it might have happened in a crest. The sentence only mentions one (unspecified) crest, that's why I chose "in some crest" to translate "in irgend einem wappen" (modern spelling would be "in irgendeinem Wappen").
    – Hulk
    Commented Dec 3, 2015 at 6:06
  • Thank you! I'm happy I got some help to look into what Mr Walther von Wartburg wrote (the FEW is such a masterpiece); I guess in the end an inversion error with two colors might be construed more generally as an event involving the two colors and maybe that's what the TLFi meant. Also this was my first introduction to the German language and I learned quite a few things!
    – user19299
    Commented Dec 3, 2015 at 18:30

When you translate "Vertauschung" with "mix-up" or "inversion error" you use (negative) connotations the word "Vertauschung" doesn't necessarily have. "Vertauschung" could as neutral as "exchange", "interchange" or "reversal" and, depending on context, these might be better translations. "Mix-up" implies that something has gone wrong whereas "exchange" doesn't.

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