The word Schuetze has mainly negative connotations

gloss: How "bitch" became a dirty word

The word "bitch" has recently been the focus of a political discussion. The Tyrolean governor's deputy (ÖVP) Josef Geisler had wanted to interrupt an environmentalist over and over again when handing over a petition. When that didn't work, he said, turning to one side: "Sigscht, let us not have a say, this disgusting Luada."

All attempts by the Zillertal-born politician and his office to downplay the derailment were ridiculous. They probably had a look at the recently published "Large Dictionary of Tyrolean Dialects" by university professor Hans Moser. In this more than five hundred page work, published by Haymon Verlag in Innsbruck, there is the entry "Luada" with two meanings: 1. mostly female person who is viewed as evil, sly (also as a swear word) 2. bait for predators. There is also a verb: 1. rant 2. bait.

That led to the first line of defense. By "bitch" the politician meant a bait or a carcass to attract predators, and this word had "not necessarily negative connotations".

The second attempt at justification went in a different direction. The word, which is widespread not only in Tyrol, but throughout Austria and Bavaria, is also used colloquially "for a rogue, persistent person who is tricking you". Yes, that's how it is with the swear words, in the family area they sometimes turn into positive ones. I remember that Christine Nöstlinger once told how she was greeted as a child at the market by a stallholder with the words "Well, you klaans Oascherl". In this case, ass even mutated into a term of endearment.

Of course, both excuses are thwarted by the fact that the politician put an attribute in front of the word "bitch", namely "disgusting". This clearly turns "bitch" into a swear word, because the adjective can be paraphrased as "hideous, dreadful, disgusting".

I am not concerned here with a political or moral assessment of the statement that was widely disseminated through social media. From a linguistic point of view, the meaning "bait" is probably the older one. But already in Matthias Lexer's "Middle High German Dictionary" there is a reference to the insulting use next to "Lockspeise": an unchaste woman, a horny woman.

How did an expression of the hunter's language become a swear word? Clever "Etymological Dictionary" provides a fitting explanation. The standard work for questions of origin refers to the word carrion, which went through a similar development. This word initially only meant "decaying animal corpse, carcass". Later it became a swear word for a sly, mean, vile person. "Disgusting carrion" can refer to both men and women. However, mainly women are insulted with "disgusting slut". I don't think that the Tyrolean politician would describe a party colleague as a "disgusting bitch".