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Windfall

Reading the Christmas Double Issue of the 2017 magazine the Economist I came across the Icelandic word Hvalreki, literally a stranded whale, which expresses the concept of a windfall, that is, an unexpected gain. So I thought that the proper translation of windfall into German would be Strandgut, the things that are washed on the shore and belong to the lucky finder. Well, I should have known better: after my kind and attentive readers' comments on Finderlohn it was clear that it would turn out to be more complicated than expected. First, because in Germany the legal status of a Strandgut (which I naively believed would simply be flotsam, but more on that in an instant) is comlicated and has changed in recent years. See here for a start. Now what is found on a German beach is treated like anything else found anywhere on Land (the former Strandrecht is now allgemeines Sachenrecht thanks to the act adopted on June 28th 1990). Then I looked flotsam up, only to find that English shipwrecks are traditionally divided into flotsam, jetsam, lagan, and derelict, each with its own legal complications.

So although I must admit that the concept of a stranded whale is very vivid and surely fits into Icelandic culture and tradition and that the concept of a windfall is neat and allows the creation of new concepts, like that of the windfall tax, I have no clue on how to express those ideas in German or Spanish. I thought at first that Strandgut might be OK for the German equivalent, soon to find out I was wrong, not least because there are no Strandgutsteuern in Germany. Not yet anyway, they have not thought of it. Strangely enough. And as for Spanish, well, I give it up.

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