Here in India, we use Studio D A1 for course book. In it, there is a box in which the following is written.


manche meinen,
lechts und rinks
kann man nicht velwechsern,
werch ein illtum

ernst jandl

My understanding of this is "some think left and right can be confused which is an error."

Spelling mistakes: lechts, rinks (links and rechts), verwechseln (confuse) and welch ein irrtum (which is an error).

Is my understanding correct? And what is LICHTUNG?

  • 6
    The translation should be: "Some think left and right CAN'T be mixed up... the hell they can't."
    – Emanuel
    Nov 24, 2012 at 22:01
  • 3
    Although Lichtung seems to be just the word Richtung suffering from the l vs. r change, it is a real German word: clearing (in a forest). All other misspellings (lechts, rinks, velwechsern, werch Illtum), however, do not make valid words. Nov 26, 2012 at 22:05
  • Yes, that's why I asked what it really means. Clearing just didn't make sense to me.
    – thandasoru
    Nov 27, 2012 at 4:12
  • The translation should be Some think reft and light can't be foncused. Rat an eworr!
    – tofro
    Apr 6, 2017 at 19:18

5 Answers 5


I guess Lichtung should be Richtung, since r and l are switched in that text.

Here is the Wikipedia article for that poem with some possible interpretations.

"[...] Während berichtet wird, dass manche die Verwechslung von links und rechts für ausgeschlossen hielten, sind in allen Wörtern die Buchstaben l und r vertauscht."


In this short text, all the r are replaced with l and vice versa. That's why the title is Richtung and not Lichtung. This means something like direction. And your translation is more or less correct.

He says that you can't confuse left and right, but in his whole text he does exactly that.


Mr. Jandl was an expert in playing with the language. Your example is just a funny way to underline what he is saying by exchanging the position of letters. In this case r and l !


You did not quote the poem as it was originally published by Ernst Jandl in 1966. This is the original text:


manche meinen
lechts und rinks
kann man nicht velwechsern.
werch ein illtum!

  • All words (also the title) are written in lower case only.
  • There are only two interpunctations: A full stop at end of line 3 and a exclamation mark at the end of the last line. (There is no comma at the end of line 1!)

In this poems the letters L and R are swapped. Without this swapping it would be:


manche meinen
rechts und links
kann man nicht verwechseln.
welch ein irrtum!

You can translate this into english, which gives:


some believe
right and left
can not be confound.
what an error!

And now, you can swap R and L again, to make it like the German version:


some berieve
light and reft
can not be confound.
what an ellol!

You can finde more information about this poem on Wikipedia in German and also in English.


For this thoughts of Jandl don't forget: In German speaker's political region RIGHT and LEFT have political context to DIRECTION (content/programme) of parties and political thinking and activity...

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