three imaginary boys and one seeing eye bitch (lucieandco) wrote in linguaphiles,
three imaginary boys and one seeing eye bitch

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Fisematenten? (German)

I recently recorded Billy Wilder's "The Fortune Cookie" off German television (hilarious film, intelligent, more than recommended, et cetera) and, after watching it in English first, decided to try the German dub - and there I encountered a funny little word I fail to make any definite sense of and which I don't recall ever having heard before: a crooked lawyer nicknamed 'Whiplash Willie' in the original had become 'Fisematenten-Willie'. Question: what are (if it's indeed a plural at all) Fisematenten? My mother suggests a French origin possibly left behind by Napoleonic occupation, and her sister offered a theory well in support of that - namely that it was derived from soldiers calling "Visite(z) ma tente!" to German girls ... but even if that is the word's origin, what exactly does it mean nowadays? And what would it mean if assigned to a lawyer? I figured calling someone Fisematenten-someone would simply mean they're always causing trouble and making a fuzz where it isn't necessary, it's just that I can't think of how that connects with the tent. Before I asked my mother what she thought and she did claim to have heard it before in the trouble-stirring context I actually assumed it was a term specific to law or insurance business, something along those lines, especially since it ended in 'enten' - the German word for alimonies is 'Alimente', so I thought, one guy will see to you getting your Alimente, and the other might specialise in getting your Fisematenten ... ? But apparently it's not a very official word at all (for it isn't in any dictionary I've consulted); now I'm also wondering if it belongs in any specific dialect, surprising as it would be for it to crop up in a country-wide synchronisation of a film, then.
To sum up again ... what did the word mean originally, what does it mean now, where and when (and by whom) was and is it used? Any theories or even I Can Say For Sures would be much appreciated!

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