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Winners of the German Aphorism Contest

On May 15, 2008, the names of the 10 winning aphorists in the German Aphorism Association (DAphA) contest were announced at the Stadtmuseum Hattingen, home of DAphA.

The jury had to select their favorite aphorisms from more than 1,500 entries penned by more than 300 contributors from all parts of Germany as well as some neighboring countries. For the organizers—DAphA, the Stadtmuseum Hattingen and the local newspaper WAZ Hattingen—it was an astounding response. As chairman of DAphA (and an aphorist myself!), I moderated the evening. A suitably powerful musical program was performed by Dennis Frehse, a young drummer.

Here are some of the runners-up:

An aphorist is not stingy with thoughts but with words. — Marita Bagdahn, Bonn

You are working on your weaknesses as long as they dominate you perfectly  — Helwig Brunner, Graz, Austria

Accidents happen on which the fingerprints of God are still visible. —Nikolaus Cybinski, Lörrach

In a good dialogue, statements that are half-true will not be added together but shared. —Jacques Wirion, Luxemburg

Parliament is where political idealists sober up. —Jürgen Flenker, Münster

In the long run, no one can live with just one lie; he will certainly need some more. —Wolfgang Mocker, Berlin

Meaning is a child. It plays hide-and-seek behind the  words. —Adelheid Gosse-Weigl, Kaufbeuren

Third prize was awarded to Frank Rawel, an author for the amateur cabaret “Die Bücherwürmer” (The Bookworms) who lives in Michendorf near Potsdam:

Who has not been held up, does not go far.

Taking a bath purifies.

Second prize went to Tobias Grüterich from Bonn. Born in 1978, he has already published aphorism books. The jury especially commended his witty brevity and ambiguity of expression:

The fate of truth: the wasting away of truth. (In German: Los der Wahrheit: Verwahrlosung.

Who has won? No. He who has, has won.

First prize went to Stefan Schütz from Erfurt. The jury highlighted the laconic, ambiguous and precision of his aphorisms:

The safe and sound world is a plate.

There is enough egoism for all.

Finally, the public chose its own favorite aphorism, by Helwig Brunner:

Obituary to an individualist: he always wanted to be different, now he’s deceased. (In German: (Nachruf auf einen Individualisten: Immer wollte er anders sein, jetzt ist er verschieden.)

This shows again the special difficulty in translating an aphorism, because the German word “verschieden” means “different” as well as “deceased”. Click here to download an article about the contest from WAZ Hattingen.

The organizers of the aphorism contest are now expectantly looking forward to the 3rd German Aphorists’ Convention, which will take place from November the 6 to 8 at the Stadtmuseum Hattingen. The main topic will be the fundamental facets of an aphorism: wit, sense, and metaphor. — Jurgen Wilbert


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June 2008