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We do use "Troll" and "trollen" in German forums. But is there another Word that predates the Internet that could be used instead?

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  • I would add to all the answer "Aufwiegler" for someone who likes to escalate situations Nov 10, 2022 at 19:40

4 Answers 4

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Provokateur should be the nearest german expression. But as in many cases around Computers, IMHO it won't make sense to translate it. e.g. Joystick is a word too which can be translated, but most users won't catch it at once.

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  • 1
    Provokateur isn't exactly german (it's more french). Dec 4, 2012 at 20:19
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    initially latin, and before, who knows ... ;-)
    – bummi
    Dec 4, 2012 at 20:35
  • @MartinSchröder: Als 'agent provocateur' aber eher übers Französische eingewandert, und m.E. längst adaptiert. "Höneß provoziert einen Strafstoß." Dec 6, 2012 at 0:16
  • Yes trolling is provoking people to react. Dec 15, 2012 at 14:11
  • There used to be a time where some people tried to force germanisation of computer terms. But nobody really picked up "Schlappscheibendiskette" (floppy disk), or "Ziegelstein Seiltänzer Leser" (Adobe Acrobat Reader)... (The latter was from a machine translated EULA)
    – king_nak
    Nov 4, 2022 at 8:16
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According to the Wikipedia article, troll originates from the French verb trôler, but also from the Norse word troll.

Let's concentrate on the second one here. A troll is a mythological monster. The German word for Troll is Troll, so there is no difference.

As for the activity of trolling: This is an artificial word created for this purpose, so there is no direct translation we can use. However, trolling means something like ködern (as you can read here). So I would go for that.

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  • Aren't all words created artificial? Dec 3, 2012 at 5:34
  • @userunknown Nit-picker ;) Artificial word = Kunstwort
    – Baz
    Dec 3, 2012 at 8:26
  • Nun, das ist ja von den 2 Fragen eine, die Du zu beantworten suchst. Es scheint mir daher keine Erbsenzählerei zu sein. Und ich lese die Antwort so, dass aus der von Dir behaupteten Tatsache, das Wort sei ein Kunstwort folgerst, es gäbe daher keine direkte Übersetzung. Jetzt hat aber @DisplayName eine direkte Übersetzung geliefert, wie mir scheint. Also stehe ich vor einem 3-fachen Problem: Ich glaube alle Wörter sind Kunstwörter, erzeugt für einen Zweck, und zweitens kenne ich keine Regel, wonach Kunstwörter sich direkter Übersetzung widersetzen, und drittens seh ich eine solche (trollen). Dec 4, 2012 at 4:55
  • Dagegen gefällt mir 'ködern' ausgesprochen gut. Davon ab: Da dies eine Webseite ist, die sich explizit mit dt. Sprache beschäftigt, und nicht mit Wetter, Norwegen oder Netzwerken ist ein gewisses Maß an Erbsenzählerei in meinen Augen dringend geboten, was die Analyse von Sprache und deren Regeln betrifft. Dec 4, 2012 at 4:57
  • close but one step removed from the provozieren, provozieren with bait, close call Dec 15, 2012 at 14:13
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Querulant: someone who always criticises and takes opposition to anything. For example, German law uses this word to describe someone who files so many lawsuites for no real reason that he must be declared partially incompetent in regards to bringing action.

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openthesaurus.de gives the following synonyms for the non-mythological meanings1 of "Troll" (also reflected on DWDS):

While these words differ from each other in the exact behavior ascribed to the individual, each of them can be used for an Internet troll that does show the respective behavior, which by definition is at least that of the last listed one (Provokateur).

All of these words are derived from verbs or verbal expressions:

While these verbs can be used to describe aspects of the behavior of Internet trolls, in my opinion none of them are a sufficiently exact synonym of "to troll" (or the new (on DWDS yet undocumented) meaning of the German verb "trollen" derived from that), especially as the more generic ones stören and provozieren don't imply intention (Man kann versehentlich stören oder provozieren.) while Internet trolling is always an intentional behavior. Further, "stören" and "provozieren" in my understanding somewhat imply "success" at bothering or provoking others, while "to troll" / "trollen" can in my opinion also refer to a (potentially unsuccessful) attempt to do so.


1 The also listed "Unhold" can (in reference to the mythological creatures) refer to a non-mythological male person (in the meaning of "grober, ungeschlachter Kerl"; a brute, maybe cloddish man), but is not really applicable to Internet trolls.

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