The Problem with Fucking

April 18, 2012

Northwest of Salzburg is the Austrian town of Fucking. Needless to say, the locals are sick and tired of tourists poking fun of their name, which doesn’t mean what it means in English (if it were named Ficking, on the other hand…). Visitors have taken pictures next to the town sign, stolen the sign, and allegedly had sex next to the sign. According to the mayor, the prank calls were the last straw. As such, the town voted on whether or not to change its name to Fugging. An NBC affiliate in Connecticut says it did so. But over at a major Austrian newspaper, Die Presse, the news is that the town has not voted to change its name to Fugging (another town is already called this). My guess is Die Presse has it right and at least for the moment, Fucking stays, although I’d vote to change it to Frigging.

In German, Fuchs is a fox. Dick means fat (while Schwanz means dick). And Schmuck refers to jewelry. Germans, meanwhile, get a laugh whenever actor Johnny Depp is mentioned since his last name means idiot in their language. So it goes.

On the island of Grand Cayman is a tiny place called Hell, which has soaked up its notoriety for all its worth (postcards from Hell, “To Hell and Back,” “To Hell With You”). And there are places like Intercourse, Pennsylvania. But it doesn’t get better than Fucking.

P.S. Next week I am meeting with the Austrian ambassador and will seek an official comment on this matter.

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