The Tyrolean village of Hanau, where the snow-covered, stone villages at the top of the Alps have long been identified as models of rugged ruggedness, is as German as apple pie. It does have a famous, undeniably “German” name, albeit a bogus one, though, and what has been called the “Shintzand” area in Hanau, is very, very German indeed.
Shintzand is a word born of scatological humor — German language being, not unfamiliar to our history, a language of sarcasm. That’s how Germans came to know it. But the fact is that the word belongs to the Tyrolean dialect spoken here and in Trier, as well as in the Putschgebund, the dialect-rich Lower Saxony state that is the model of the German national dialect, the Schulenpatriennen.
The expression uses, “Hansensturm dich” to mean “the laughing insect.” A joke, said to have been played in Hanau, was: “You’ve got a million in rainy season, and 200 in warm season. Why don’t you build Hanau on both sides, and use their winter snow?” There’s no doubt why the German “Shintzand” association sprang up; many Germans joke that the shih tzu cannot walk outside in February, and cannot possibly live long enough in the snow, a joking commentary on our very own Hanau, the “hospital” of our time, as Mark Malloch-Brown, a spokesperson for the Chinese democracy movement, has put it.
Mr. Malloch-Brown, of course, had the best impression of Hanau in Germany’s Hanau.