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I recently saw this in an on-line forum about a computer game. It doesn't seem to appear in dictionaries, but I think the meaning is clear from the structure of the word and a bit of context; German is very helpful in this way. (The corrected original is "Der Pflanzenkübel Boden ist verbugt." I render this as "The planter soil is bugged.") I have two questions. First, since this seems to be partly from English, would you pronounce the "bug" part as in English or the way it's spelled in German? Maybe there is no "correct" or "incorrect" pronunciation. Second, it seems to have the form of a past participle. Does that mean there is an implied verb, perhaps verbugen? You can use "bug" as a verb in English with several meanings, but not related to computer programs. You can say "bugged" informally though, meaning "nonfunctional due to a bug". I gather German follows the same logic, except it uses the German past participle and throws in ver- for emphasis.

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  • 1
    I am confused, is this about a Pflanzenkübel in a computer game, or is this about two different occurrences of the word?
    – Carsten S
    Nov 15, 2022 at 10:12
  • @Carsten S - The game has a gardening/farming aspect, and the Pflanzenkübel is an in-game item to grow crops in. There is also in-game soil (Boden) you need to have in the Pflanzenkübel for it work. My interpretation was that there was a bug in the game related to the soil, and that caused the Pflanzenkübel to not work. I wasn't entirely sure what they were talking about; it seemed to work fine when I played.
    – RDBury
    Nov 15, 2022 at 12:01
  • 2
    Well, you want to keep either kind of bug away from your virtual plants, I suppose.
    – Carsten S
    Nov 15, 2022 at 13:30
  • 1
    Tangentiel relevant: der Wug-Test über Wortbildungsmuster in Kindern.
    – vectory
    Nov 15, 2022 at 18:22

6 Answers 6

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Der Pflanzenkübel Boden ist verbugt.

This German sentence has two errors. Let's correct them first:

If the last word of this sentence is written like this, it is pronounced [fɛɐ̯ˈbuːkt] which sounds similar like »fairbooged« and nobody would realize that is has to do with an error in a computer program. (There is the German noun »der Bug« which is the front part of a ship and is »the bow« in English.) In fact, with that spelling and pronunciation this word has no meaning at all and sticks out of the sentence shouting out loud, "I am an error".

But when you add a second g, than most readers (not all; only in the right context of computer games might it be all readers) will realize that it has to do with a bug, because the word »debuggen« with the past participle »debuggt« is already part of German vocabulary, but it exists there as a foreign word, which means the German pronunciation is as close to the English one as is possible for German native speakers. And once the reader realizes this relationship between »debuggt« and »verbuggt« then the word »verbuggt« sounds like »fairbuged«.

Second error: German has no connecting blank between terms that belong together. So the spelling »Pflanzenkübel Boden« is wrong. You either write it with a hyphen (»Pflanzenkübel-Boden«) or as a compound word (»Pflanzenkübelboden«). The latter is preferred in German:

Der Pflanzenkübelboden ist verbuggt.

There are also other possibilities (»Der Boden des Pflanzenkübels«, »Der Boden vom Pflanzenkübel«) which are correct too, but less preferred than compound nouns.

So, to answer your questions:

  1. Your assumption about the English translation is wrong.

    • die Pflanze = the plant
    • der Kübel = the pot
    • der Boden = the bottom
    • der Pflanzenkübel = the plant pot
    • der Pflanzenkübelboden = the bottom of the plant pot

    Der Pflanzenkübelboden ist verbuggt.
    The bottom of the plant pot is bugged.

  2. The word »verbuggt« is spelled with double g and pronounced [fɛɐ̯ˈbʌkt] which sounds similar to "fairbuged".

  3. Yes, it is a past participle. The infinitive form is »verbuggen«. You will not find this word in any dictionary (even »debuggen« is missing in most dictionaries, but »der Debugger« exists in most of them). But not being present in dictionaries just means that the word is new. When the reader understands what the author meant, then everything is fine.

  4. All words used in German sentences that derive from the English word bug only have a meaning related to an error in a computer program. No other meanings exist in a German context.

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    Im großen und ganzen richtig, aber als dt.sprachiger Programmierer würde ich "Der Pflanzenkübelboden ist von Käfern besiedelt" als Bedeutung verstehen und als naheliegendste Interpretation wählen. Außer es wäre ein Grammatikfehler, und "verbogen" wäre gemeint. Und kl. Ergänzung: "Des Pflanzenkübel Boden ist verbuggt" o. "der Pflanzenkübel Böden sind verbuggt" ginge m.E. auch. Nov 14, 2022 at 23:45
  • @userunknwn: Wenn etwas falsch ist, gibt es immer mehrere korrekte Nachbarn in ähnlich großen oder ähnlich kleinen Abständen im multidimensionalen Raum der falschen und korrekten Sätze. Das macht es ja so schwer, zu einem fehlerhaften Satz denjenigen korrekten zu finden, den der Urheber eigentlich gemeint hat. Nov 15, 2022 at 8:07
  • 1
    Thanks. So it sounds like the "official" spelling should be "verbuggt", assuming the word ever makes it into a dictionary. The connecting blank was in the original. I corrected the more glaring errors, but the actual original was "pflanzenkübel boden is verbugt"; at least they managed to get the umlaut. Keep in mind this was a forum on video games where the typical poster is an overly caffeinated teenager. I'm pretty sure it's called a "planter" in the game, but I'll have to do a playthrough in German to be sure it's the same thing. (Playing in German is a good way to practice the language.)
    – RDBury
    Nov 15, 2022 at 11:18
  • "»debuggen« with the past participle »debuggt«" - maybe that's a regional thing, but I only know the past participle as "gedebuggt". Nov 15, 2022 at 16:19
  • In fact, with that spelling and pronunciation this word has no meaning at all and sticks out of the sentence shouting out loud, "I am an error". An dieser Stelle war mir bereits klar, das hat @Schölnast verzapft. Die Argumentation überzeugt nicht, denn bug bleibt bug, und das u wird auch nicht zu a wie es angehör der Aussprache zu lauten hette.
    – vectory
    Nov 15, 2022 at 18:17
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Well the origin is undoubtly the English word bug (as in computer bug). Very related is debuggen (to debug).

The word in all variants is pronounced like the English one. The main difference I see though is that I mainly write this with two g's (i.e. verbuggt), which seems to go along with debuggen (not debugen). Indeed, as a German native, seeing this with only one g I initially read it as Bug (the front of a ship). Since this word also does not appear in the Duden, I guess you can get away with both spellings, but my recommendation would be to write it with a double-g. As stated above, this is consistent with debuggen, comes closer to how Germans would write the word (except for the u which is pronounced the English way) and finally, does not potentially cause confusion with the Bug. Although it should be quite clear if it appears in the context of software.

I think verbuggen only appears in the participle form, unless you were throwing a rant like

Die verbuggen das doch mit Absicht! (They're coding bugs on purpose)

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Your conclusions are correct - it is the German equivalent of the English 'bugged' and is derived from the English. The 'bug' part is also pronounced like the English 'bug' and it is similarily informal. It exists - to my knowledge and experience - mostly in this participle form. Other usages are at least uncommon. If you were to create a verb from it, yes, it would be 'verbugen' or given the pronounciation with a short vowel and the English origin, I'd rather spell it as 'verbuggen'.

It is found used usually in context like you describe indicating that some programme or some specific part of a programme has bugs. It doesn't mean necessarily that it is completely non-functional, but that there definitely are oddities which are not by design. It's hard to find sources for this; there exists an entry in dict.cc, which spells it 'verbuggt'.

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When one language integrates words from another language strange things can happen. A native french speaker would have a hard time recognizing the german-pronounced pommes ("pommes frittes") or, even worse, a Viennese-pronounced lavuhr ("lavoir").

The same is true here: the german IT community adopted "bug" (the noun) and "buggy" and "[to be] bugged" (being ridden by bugs), but not the verb "to bug" and neither its inflections. German is, so to say, unaware of these being inflected versions of the same root and treats the inflections as different words.

The prefix "ver-" is actually several prefixes ("per-", "pre-", "pro-","for-" "fore-") rolled into one. This is why it has many different meanings (i.e. "vergeben" can mean "to give away" or "to forgive", "verschreiben" can be "to prescribe" when intransitive but "to make a typo/to misspell" when reflexive, etc.). One of the meanings is that of an application along with a negative connotation. I.e. "fahren" (to drive), but "verfahren" can mean to become lost while driving (reflexive - "sich verfahren"), but a situation can also be "verfahren" (meaning it is driven into a corner and now there is no easy way out). This is actually where "verdammt" and "verflucht" (both: "damned") or "versalzen" (to apply too much salt) or "verführen" (to seduce) come from and how "verbugged" (this is how i would spell it) or "verbugt" (an alternate spelling, the word is too new to have a canonical german spelling) came to pass.

And because this is a new word it doesn't have to have all the possible inflections either. You are right, it looks like a Partizip Perfekt, but the respective Verb does not necessarily be in use - right now, it is not as far as I can tell. It might become being used or not.

A last remark about:

Der Pflanzenkübel Boden ist verbugt.

"Pflanzenkübel Boden" is a common error especially younger people are prone to. I suppose this is because of their increased exposition to English, where compounds are indeed written in this way. Correct German would be "Pflanzenkübelboden", more details here.

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  • Add in that especially german is prone to adopt "false friends" - mainly because english roots to a part in the old language of germanic tribes angles and saxons - english words, totally removed from their original meaning as in handy (cell phone) and others.
    – eagle275
    Nov 14, 2022 at 12:56
  • "verbugged" is definitely wrong. You'd never write a German participle with "-ed".
    – xehpuk
    Nov 14, 2022 at 13:21
  • @xehpuk: of course one "never writes a German Partizip" (there are no "participles" in German) "with -ed", but since this is no original German word these rules do not apply. You don't pronounce a "u" in German with an "a" either and still the word is pronounced "ver-bag-d" rather then "ver-bug-d". This is why i said a canonical way of writing it is not there yet. Strictly applying your way of identifying "right" and "wrong" one would have to write the word "verbagt" or maybe "verbakt".
    – bakunin
    Nov 14, 2022 at 22:45
  • Thanks. The ver- can be confusing, especially since the meanings of many of the words that include it have drifted over the years. My interpretation in this case was that it means that the process has been completed; it's not just an error but the whole thing is useless because of bugs. I think a similar example is graban - to dig, vergraban - to bury.
    – RDBury
    Nov 15, 2022 at 11:28
  • @bakunin I'm not aware of exceptions for foreign words. It's gelikt, gemanagt, gecheckt, gescannt, gefakt, debuggt etc.
    – xehpuk
    Nov 15, 2022 at 12:02
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Yes, this seems to be a derivation from Bug [bak], even though the spelling lets me first think of Bug [buːk]. It means full of Bugs. A close analogue would be the word verlaust.

Of course if this refers to soil and not a computer program, then the author may have for some reason just derived this directly from the English noun bug in a sense that the German loan word does not have.

The derivation of verbugt (verbuggt? verbugged?) from the noun Bug is possible without a verb ”buggen”. Whether or not that means that verbuggen should also exist depends on whether or not that would be a useful concept.

  • The word verlaust is more frequent than verlausen. A verb lausen exists but means rather the opposite.
  • We have vermint as the past participle of verminen, straight from Mine.
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  • I think lausen would typically be translated as "to delouse" in English, though I gather that "to louse" is also possible; it seems ironic that they would have the same meaning. You could probably translate verlaust as "lousy", but that meaning is so rare now in English that it would be confusing. DWDS lists three meanings for Mine, only two have related English equivalents. It seems vermint only applies to land mines, not the other kinds of Minen
    – RDBury
    Nov 15, 2022 at 11:47
  • @RDBury, I think lausen is only used if monkeys or apes other than humans do it to each other, or possibly if humans do it in the same style. Otherwise to delouse would be entlausen. And yes, verminen is about the weapons, it did not occur to me that there are other meanings. (And there is also Miene, which is a homophone.)
    – Carsten S
    Nov 15, 2022 at 13:22
  • The original meaning of (the german word) "Mine" is about "container". This is where the "Mine" (land mine) roots in: a container full of explosives - and also the place in the mountain, where ore can be found. Even the inside of a pencil can be seen as a container for the pigment.
    – bakunin
    Nov 15, 2022 at 14:27
  • @bakunin Mr. Pfeifer doesn't share your opinion on "container". He says that "Mine" (the loud thing) actually has it's meaning because the first mines were indeed used in tunnels under enemy fortifications (in French, dug by "Mineurs")
    – tofro
    Nov 15, 2022 at 14:39
  • Das dt. Fremdwort "Bug" hat keine andere Bedeutung als das Original. Programmierer mit ein wenig Horizont wissen auch, dass der erste physische Bug, der in einem Computer gefunden wurde, zur Dokumentation sogar ins Logbuch geklebt wurde, Auch im Deutschen ist der Bug eine Metapher für Computerfehler vielfältiger Art geworden, meist jedoch Programmierfehler. Einerseits wg. der Legende, andererseits wg. weitverbreiteter Englischkenntnisse, weiß fast jeder, dass es eine Metapher ist und ist es im Deutschen auch eine Metapher (was sonst?). Nov 16, 2022 at 0:31
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would you pronounce the "bug" part as in English ...

Exclusively, yes. Well, nearly so, except that widespread Auslautverhärtung tends to render bug effectively with /k/. Backstein and Bug + Stein may sound the same (hypothetically a microchip: "Stein", that has a bug). The voice-feature is underspecified, which also means that verbaggen "verpacken" in a kind of Hessian dialect is not unheared of.

The underlying English representation should theoretically surface when another syllable follows (eg. *sieg- vb. /sign sigte/ beside n. /sik/). Otherwise we speak of code-switching to English, higher than High German, or we have to consolidate ongoing language changes. The fact that verbug-t present with a devoiced /k/ indicates at least for me that it is ossified. Alternatively, voicing is underspecified.

For the spelling see also Mus, Muse, "mousse" with one ‹s›, Mostrich with one ‹s›, Magazin, with one ‹g›, but Bagger with two, in which case baggern not * "bagt" would be the correct verb. Inasmuch as obsolete bagger "mud" is reported as the root, see mug / muck for a similar problem. Because of various historically changes, there seems to be no comparable wordstem in the inherited German vocabulary. All nominally short vowels would immediately condition changes in the vowel, departing in several dialects at least since Middle High German. That's why En. dog must correspond to Töhle, formerly , later Zohe, cp. Zofe (i.e. bitch); Dogge is a loanword, which does not participate in word formation and is obligated to carry an excrescent vowel. If it did, we'd probably see Dock-, cp. docked ears, lengthened grade dogged.

Nobody understands that. Feel free to make matters even worse by making up your own.

Does that mean there is an implied verb, perhaps verbugen?

Es mag sein dass es das gibt, es gibt aber keine verbindliche Richtlinie für Worthaftigkeit. Hohdeutsch spielt hier nur eine untergeordnete Rolle, da Anglizismen per Definition als Fremdworte betrachtet werden, da diese ganz genau die glorifizierte Rheinheit des Wortschatzes trüben. Das ist natürlich hinzunehmen, wenn solcherlei Worte in der bodenständigen Umgangssprache aufgenommen werden.

Die schwache Beugung wäre generell richtig, aber fraglich bleibt, ob aus einem passivischen Partizip einfach ein aktives Verb werden kann, ohne den Sinn zu entstellen. Denn Fehler wie Software-bugs sind naturgemäß unbeabsichtigt. Ansonsten spricht man eher von einem Häck, Hexenwerk, oder recht deutlich von absehbarem Verkacken (der Fäkalsprache abgeneigte vergleichen hier bitte Griechisch kako- "schlecht"; anderenfalls sei auf Türkisch bok verwiesen).

Das mag zwiespältig sein. Einerseits drückt verpesten ja fast dasselbe aus, so dass eine Analoge Bildung denkbar ist.

Andererseits gibt es z.B. defekte Verben wie vertrakt, an denen der Wortstamm nicht erkennbar ist, sodass eine Rückbildung bei strenger Betrachtung im Zweifelsfall falsch wäre (vgl. Vertrag), insofern der ursprünglichere Wortstamm andernorts noch geläufig ist und höher bewertet werden mag als sogenanntes Denglisch. Das ist eine Stilfrage, die mithin abhängig vom Ansprechpartner wäre. Wie oben bereits angedeutet, steht dabei mehr in Frage als reine Englischkenntniss. Dies hat wiederum mit Prestige zu tun. Der Duden führt soweit kein verbugt.

Richtiger ist verbocken im gängigen Jargon, insofern die Frage von Informatik handelt.

Siehe dazu auch Bock, bzw. Bockkäfer im Sinne der der deutschen Sprache kaum mehr geläufige Entsprechung zum englischen bug, wobei Käfer wie älteres Englisch chafer wohl als Schädling steht, vgl. [[cockchafer]] (bekannt für Fressschäden) sowie das Bezugswort wohl eigentlich als Buche, quasi Holz zu verstehen sein dürfte (vgl. Buch, book). Das ist weitgehend ungewiss, zumal das Buch mithin die Bibel bezeichnet. Mit einem Sandbuggy oder der Brotbüchse hat das augenscheinlich nicht viel zu tun, weil ein Zusammenhang zwischen Buche und Buchsbaum in der modefnen Sprachwissenschaft unbekannt ist. Siehe aber Boxklee, das ist sicher vom Ziegenbock (En. buck).

Sowieso heißt es i. bockig sein auch störrisch sein, einen Bock haben, sozusagen ein Holzkopf sein, ii. sprichwörtlich Boxhorn, welches jemanden zu stören geeignet war, wenngleich dessen sagenumwobene Herkunft umstritten ist, iii. Teufelsdarstellungen werden gern mit den Zügen eines Geisbocks versehen, iv. boh gilt den Slaven in Böhmen wiederum als nichts weniger als der Herrgott, der vor der Christianisierung aber verteufelt worden sein dürfte (von welcher Seite auch immer), v. ein Prellbock etwa ein tatsächliches Hindernis darstellt, wiederum zumeist aus Holz, sowie bestimmte Module den Hutschiene. in Schaltkonsolen feste als Böcke aufgesetzt werden, wirklich bombenfest vi. ein Buckel wird zuweilen als verhärtete Wucherung versinnbildlich, vii. ein Flitzebogen sollte jedenfalls aus widerstandsfähigem Material bestehen. ermutlich gehört herusbuxieren als unsanfte Art der Personenbeforderung, bzw. buxen (statt boxen) auch dazu, wie auch das über Roma-Sprachen eingetragene null Bock haben (wohl zu Indisch "Hunger") vgl. dementsprechend sterben, to starve, wie darben, ferner dürfen (also doch Bock haben). Es ist Hasenjagdsaison, doch ich habe keinen Bock. Der Bock trägt die Bewaffnung schließlich auf dem Kopf.

Wer etwas verbockt, trifft also am Ziel vorbei, oder gar nicht. Muss man sich vorstellen wie beim Fußball, wenn alle Umstehenden es wieder mal besser gekonnt hätte.

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  • I'm not sure I followed every word of that. But yes, for American ears it can be difficult to tell a German 'g' from 'k', even if it there is a vowel after them. The g is not doubled which I thought would give it a long 'u' (English 'oo') sound; compare with Zug. The 'u' in English "bug", "tug", "lug" sounds very different.
    – RDBury
    Nov 16, 2022 at 0:54
  • The g is not doubled? Good Game [player disconnected]
    – vectory
    Nov 16, 2022 at 16:48

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