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Jaywalking

Jaywalking is a notion framed by the car industry in the USA to blame pedestrians for the damage inflicted on them by cars. Jaywalking can be read as a political crime, felony or misdemeanor, I am never sure of the difference between those concepts (thank you for the insight, Fefe). As jaywalking is not defined by many countries, it lacks a word for the concept in many languages, so it may be difficult to translate. That is the reason I mention it here today. See for instance what happens when Wikipedia explains jaywalking in Germany (ACHTUNG! Übersetztes Beamtendeutsch!):

German pedestrians, according to the German Road Traffic Act (Straßenverkehrsordnung) § 25, Abs. 3, StVO (VwV), have to watch the vehicular traffic carefully and cross a street quickly and on the shortest way athwart to the driving direction. If the situation on the street requires, pedestrians are only allowed to cross the street at crossings, t-junctions, or within the markings of traffic lights or crosswalks. Pedestrians who cross the street at crossings and t-junctions have to use existing traffic lights or crosswalks. If a pedestrian wants to cross the street outside the markings of traffic lights or crosswalks he has to carefully convince himself before and during the crossing that the road is clear and wait before crossing if a vehicle approaches. He must not interrupt the flowing traffic. Although 15 meters is not considered "at" the crosswalk or traffic light (KG Berlin VR 78 450), pedestrians must not cross the street 30 meter (BGH VRS 26 327) near a crosswalk and 40 meter (BGH NJW 00 3069: 39-43m; KG Berlin VRS 89 98: 33,5m) near to a traffic light but they don't need to go 200m to a crossroad or 100m to a traffic light (OLG Hamburg VRS 87 249). In heavy traffic pedestrians must not cross the street as they might have to stop on a traffic lane (OLG Hamm, Az. 27 U 115/96). Typical fines for jaywalking in Germany are between 5€ and 10€.

Is it not a strange thing that German law has a fine for jaywalking but not a word for it? At least I cannot think of one: ungebürliches oder nicht strassenverkehrsordnungsadequates Strassenüberqueren? Or simply bei rot über die Ampel gehen? That is surely not what the law forbidding it says, I am sure.

Anyway: It is not uncommon for some people in Germany to yell at pedestrians crossing the road at a red traffic light „what kind of example are you being to our CHILDREN!?!?!“ Never mind that there is no car coming for miles and that there are no children in sight, some Germans feel morally superior in this way and love to show it by shouting aloud. Those people would surely love to have a derisory term to shout at you on occasions like this: You jaywalker, you! I personally believe that it is safer for children and adults alike to watch for the traffic and ignore the lights than the other way around: if the pedestrian light is green and a car hits you nonetheless you may die, if the lights are red and you avoid the cars you will stay alive. This argument, needless to say, will cut no ice with that kind of German I so despise.

Reminds me of an occasion, many years ago, when in the middle of the night I tried to cross the road at the Hermannplatz in Berlin at a traffic light. It was dark, cold, windy and rainy and when I was already in the middle of the two-lane one-way road a hoarse voice shouted „Have you been taking drugs or what is wrong with you?!?!“ I stopped dead in the tracks, had a car been coming my way I would have been hit for sure, but I had looked thoroughly and was sure no car was coming for miles thanks to whatever incongruous superstition you may be fond of. I must add that the traffic light were red for pedestrians, that is, for me, thus I was technically jaywalking, though the term was unknown to me at the time. I underwent a mündliche Verkehrsbelehrung (can be roughly translated as an oral lesson on traffic security) from the friendly and helpful (their motto, not mine) Verkehrspolizist while the traffic light turned first green, then red, then green, then red again... (you get the idea). I was finally sent away after being fined 5 Deutschmarks and being asked if I had understood what I had been told. By the way: No, I had not been taking drugs that night. And I still believe that traffic light were made for people, like Sabbath, not the other way around (see Mark, 2:27). But I of course answered yes, I had understood. Only not what the policeman thought. Next time you jaywalk in Germany make sure you have taken drugs, policemen seem to understand you better then. I do not know what to recommend when jaywalking in the USA, I am afraid it might have very dire consequences, specially if your skin is dark. Spaniards do not give a hoot but may run you over with their car. Werever you are: be careful whe crossing the road, cars are dangerous

Kommentare

 
Am 26.07.2016 um 02:55 von Nacho
Da gibt es doch auf Deutsch einen sehr bildlichen Begriff für Jaywalker: "Geisterfußgänger". Ist natürlich nicht so geläufig wie der "Geisterfahrer" aber wird benutzt - auch von der Presse.
Y en español se me ocurriría, por analogía, el "peatón kamikaze", que parece ser que también aparece en algunas noticias locales: http://www.salamanca24horas.com/sucesos/77270-arrestado-un-peaton-kamikaze-en-el-paseo-de-carmelitas

Dir einen schönen Sommer, Jordi!
Un abrazo,
Nacho
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Am 26.07.2016 um 08:56 von Jordi
¡Hola Nacho, muy buenos días! ¡Qué cosas hay, peatones kamikaze! Veo que lo de politizar los conceptos va mas allá de lo que pensaba, eso es echarle la culpa del accidente al peatón, el coche siempre tiene razón. Si es un peatón suicida vale, pero si solamente está cometiendo una infracción sin ánimo de matarse me parece exagerado llamarle kamikaze, eso es to blame the victim. El de la noticia que enlazas parece que iba borracho como una cuba. Muy interesantes por cierto los comentarios de los lectores, en todas partes cuecen habas (menos aquí, yo tengo mucha suerte con mis comentaristas)
Para el Geisterfussgänger lo mismo, pero bueno, está bien tener al menos esa opción, lingüísticamente hablando, quiero decir, no pretendo incitar a nadie a cruzar la calle donde es peligroso.
Un abrazo, ¡que pases un buen verano tú también!
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