How to translate “Rausch”?

September 21, 2007 at 1:21 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 19 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , ,

I watched a very interesting panel discussion about psychoactive substances yesterday on 3sat, one of the few channels untouched by the general dumbing down of television that has occurred over the past 15 years (the only actual ‘shows’ on that channel are political cabaret – nice).

The people on the panel of delta – a sociologist, an ethnobotanist and a biologist and addiction researcher – were pleasingly unbiased (less biased then I am – I’ve never experimented much with drugs as the little exposure that I had to them did not seem to do me too good; with the exception of alcohol, of course, which is the one drug that middle-Europeans more or less know to handle and have integrated well into their rituals – from Bierfest to Holy Communion).

And one comment of the Ethnobotanist (a curious guy with long gray hair and tie-dye t-shirt) lingered on: that there is no equivalent expression of the German ‘Rausch’ (m.) in English. In technical terms, intoxication would be the equivalent, yet intoxication is much closer to poisoning than Rausch is to Vergiftung (=poisoning). And a high is neither the same – Rausch is much closer linked to alcohol than to any other drug. And a mere ‘drunkenness’ does not express the drive that is associated with a Rausch.

There is a bar and discotheque in Cologne (where I studied) called Das Ding (The Thing), and it used to advertise its experience using the slogan: “Der gute Rausch” (the good intoxication). It doesn’t use that slogan anymore, yet people still go there for only one reason: getting extremely drunk and inhibited in order to lose one’s inhibitions . I went there once, it was extremely packed and it was really awkward, as you were constantly chatted up by some drunk guy (that was before ‘Komasaufen‘, ‘coma boozing’, akin to binge drinking, became a sport). The only good thing about it was that only students were allowed to enter – this kept and keeps pimps and other folk who want to take advantages of hordes of drunk young women/people outside.

I just checked their website: Yes, they still operate, and they still have the same agenda: two days a week they serve free beer from 21-23h, two other days you can buy Whiskey Coke for 1 Euro, and the fifth day a bottle of champagne costs 4 Euros, plus 50c for each (empty) glass.

Anyhow: Anbody knowing a good translation for Rausch – let me know!

These are’s suggestions:

inebriation Rausch {m}
intoxication Rausch {m}
drunkenness Rausch {m} [Alkoholrausch]
jag [sl.] Rausch {m} [Alkohol-, Drogenrausch]
delirious state Rausch {m} [deliranter Zustand]
high [coll.] Rausch {m} [Drogenrausch]


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  1. Aaah, good old Freibier. What a concept. Such beauty. (Holds back the revolution, though).

    I would maybe suggest the term stupor (as in ‘drunken stupor’), even though the connotation is slightly more negative than that of Rausch–and less technical. Maybe ‘inebriation’ or even ‘crapulence’ are better?

  2. Crapulence sounds like a good concept – it’s not in the Cambridge Dictionary, but I remember my boyfriend using it whilst studying in Maryville, MO, for a semester, home of the ‘Mug night at Molly’s’ (pay 8 dollars, bring your own mug and refill it until crapulent). Must be American of origin – it’s in the Merriam Webster Unabridged.

    Although the term itself sounds like someone feels really crappy:-)

    Freibier, Opium der Unterschicht.

  3. “high” – definitely.

    And: getting extremely drunk and _un_inhibited, not ‘inhibited’. imagine if being drunk inhibited you – that would be great 😛

  4. High on alcohol?

  5. I heard the noun Booze once or on Booze.

  6. Maybe a combination: at least 45 (well) Google results for “high on booze”

  7. I find this thread fascinating. Perhaps Jetsam will be kind enough at Octoberfest to point out when I have attained Rausch-consciousness?

  8. it never used to be called ‘Komasaufen’ when I was young. They called it ‘Kampftrinken’ but I guess it’s roughly the same :p

  9. Not quite the same. Komasaufen is mainly used by the critics of those practice (quite a discussion going on about it at the moment, or rather 2 months ago still), whereas Kampftrinken was a reappropriated term, i.e. reappropriated by those who practiced it, in an attempt to give it a positive notion. Komasaufen is used by the same people who’d also use the term Unterschichtenfernsehen.

    And according to the sociologist on the panel, Kamptrinken (competitive drinking) occurred in a group, while Komsaufen is also practiced by lone individuals.

  10. Ah, yes. Rausch-consciousness is an interesting way of redefining this state not as the absence of but an alternative relation of self to context/reality (i.e. consciousness). Hence, I think it is the intricate structure of the development into this post-, or maybe even pre-linguistic state that needs to be explored. I believe a Lacanian model that points out the relationship between consciousness, socialization and the acquisition of language (entry into the symbolic) may be well suited for this project. Especially, since the often proclaimed aim, as I know it, is :”saufen bis zum Verlust der Muttersprache” (“drinking until you lose (the command of) your native language). The interesting thing for academics to explore along the way, since we are all capable of speaking multiple languages, is at which point we begin to lose these second, third, etc. languages. Also, I am interested if pre-linguistic, Rausch-consciousness constitutes a return to the symbolic (I have been in several situations that were defined by fetus position, preceded or followed by long staring into a mirror, trying to recognize the person in it or freaking myself out expecting my mirror image to wink at me).

    As this seems to be such an important question/research project, I think it is indeed important that we lay aside our dissertation work for one night next weekend and put our bodies on the line for science at the Chi Oktoberfest. We can justify it as a scientific experiment for anaj.

  11. I’m sorry I, of course, meant: “a return from the Symbolic into the Imaginary”

  12. Hey. All I can say is that I did my best to live up to the expectations of the project. I went to see “The Missouri Break” (great movie) and then drank 1 litre of beer. I am now at home and too psyched up to go to bed and ready to drink my quarter litre of red wine before i go to sleep. In this state, i find my imaginary happy to reunite with me – we both know that this is only going to be a nocturnal communion, but a communion nonetheless.

    On the subway, I grimaced into the window in the tunnels (when I could see my face), because my face looked so nondescriptly sad, I had to make some grimaces to make it look more real to me. Also, the age off 33 is an issue to be constantly revisited in a woman’s mirror.

    More 2morrow.

    Just spilled my wine. Not nice.

  13. We could all perhaps write a song, a ditty really, about drinking until the real is real.

  14. Yihaaa! Until the

  15. I just remembered a slang word for being drunk – being pissed.
    But that´s not a noun, sorry.

  16. Yep, being pissed works (in the UK and South Africa) 🙂

    In the US this merely means to be angry 😦

    1 chiefly British, sometimes vulgar : DRUNK 1a
    2 sometimes vulgar : ANGRY, IRRITATED — often used with off

  17. Hi, realise this is a very late response, but I just got here through the “Rausch” tag after using it in a post I’ve written. I try to think of the origins of words when I come across a concept that’s difficult to translate.

    The problem with Rausch is that it wasn’t always used in association with substance-use. In the olden days it would’ve meant something more akin to “thrill” or even “a state of bliss”. So in a sense it has more happy life-affirming connotations than “intoxication” (not that alcohol is any less happy or life-affirming, but the “toxi” in intoxication kind of plays that down!)

    An obvious slang translation would be “high”. You can get “on a high” drinking alcohol, or even be “on a natural high”. Depends on context. But don’t think there’s a word in English that carries the different meanings of Rausch regardless of context.

  18. an interesting thread… Perhaps you might be aware that Nietzsche, in The Birth of Tragedy, used “Rausch” to suggest the Dionysian experience. As Dionysus is the god of wine there is a connection with “intoxication” as the word in Nietzsche’s text is often translated. And yet the Dionysian experience is hardly a mere drunkenness and inebriation. Sometimes “frenzy” is used, but this too does not seem to be quite appropriate for what Nietzsche had in mind as it seems to suggest merely a nervous agitation. My dissertation adviser suggested “rush” might be appropriate since it sounds closest to “Rausch”, but it doesn’t seem quite strong enough to suggest the Dionysian experience. Perhaps the best translation to suggest what Nietzsche may have had in mind would be “ecstasy,” though both “Entzückung” and “Verzückung” are perhaps more often used for this word. However, since the Dionysian experience involves a dissolving or crossing over of the boundaries or limits that determine identity, which are the products of the Appollonian drive (Nietzsche describes the Appollonian as the principle of identity), “ecstasy,” which literally means something like “standing outside oneself” might be the best translation for what Nietzsche meant by “Rausch.” Of course, Nietzsche would have had no experience of 3,4-methylendioxymethamphetamine, that postmodern pharmakon that goes by the name of “ecstasy,” but that rapturous dissolving of ego boundaries that comes with that pharmaceutical experience seems, perhaps, quite close to what Nietszche had in mind by “Rausch.”

  19.’s suggestion for translating “ecstasy”:
    Ekstase {f}
    Entzückung {f}
    Verzückung {f}
    Rausch {m} [Ekstase]
    Wonne {f} [sexuelle Ekstase]

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