Whilst in Berlin I discovered a word, a German compound word to be exact. Now, usually I'm rather suspicious of these, but zettelwirtschaft seems to me admirably useful. Zettelwirtschaft means disorder or chaos amongst pieces of paper.
That's a very useful word, especially in the way that Germans seem to usually use it - ein zettelwirtschaft haben - to have a zettelwirtschaft going on. But it can just be a noun used to describe top of my desk.
It's also rather mysterious etymologically. Zettel is plain enough, it means paper. And schaft is just the German equivalent of -ness or -ship or -hood. It makes it a state of being. But wirt...
Well here I must admit that my German is rather basic, but so far as my dictionaries tell me, wirt is either a verb meaning to host, or it's a noun meaning innkeeper. And wirtschaft means pub or tavern (or sometimes economy, for some weird reason). So zettel-wirt-schaft means paper-tavern-ness.
I suppose that works, the slips of paper cavorting like drunks in a bar at midnight. Indeed, I hope that's the explanation, but it does seem rather odd. Are there any German experts out there who can come up with something better?
The Inky Fool opens a savings account