Kuhkaff ("cow dump"): An extremely small and dull village where cows make up the largest partof the population

roughly: “cow dump” / meaning: an extremely small village

If you really want to experience Germany, you need to visit not only its big cities, but also its most minuscule villages. Like lovely little Dierfeld in Rhineland-Palatinate, for instance.

With a total population of 9, it is the smallest municipality in Germany, followed by Wiedenborstel in Schleswig-Holstein (11 inhabitants). Places like these are what Germans like to call a Kaff. Because cows often outnumber humans in small German villages, they are also called Kuhkäffer. However, much more interesting than the “livestock-per-capita ratio” is the question of why we use the word Kaff in the first place.

Its roots lie in “Rotwelsch”—a sociolect that was spoken in Germany from the late Middle Ages onwards, especially by traveling folk, and which bears strong influences from Romani and Yiddish. Hence, Kaff is related to words for “village” in Indo-Aryan languages such as Hindi गाँव (gā:v) or Nepali गाउँ (gāu). Western Yiddish כפר (kefar) probably also influenced its phonetic form. Quite a cosmopolitan term for a kind of place where the bus only comes twice a day.




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