_ The word of the day is das Schwein (pig/pork) a very versatile word, especially when used as an adjective. Because it is used in so many contradictory manners, it is best to make sure that you understand the context. It can be either positive or negative...unless it is meat and then it depends upon the preparation. The word Sau (hog) is often interchangeable, when used as an adjective. The similar sounding English word, swine (which surely derives from the German) can also mean pig, if used by a farmer, or a person to be held in disgust or contempt, when used by anyone else.
First and foremost, it means the animal. Die arme Sau (the poor pig) ends up as a Schnitzel, cutlet, roast, Haxe, bacon, sausage, etc.
Because of its habits, the poor pig has come to mean filthy, dirty, unkempt, ill-mannered and so on.
Du bist ein Schwein (you are a pig) usually means that someone is gluttonous, unkempt, or wretched. Of course, one can eat like a pig, bleed like a pig, or sweat like a pig.
For some reason, it also means luck (Schwein gehabt—been lucky, Glücksschwein—lucky pig). At the New Year, people buy pigs, usually made out of marzipan (almond paste confectionary) or baked, as a symbol of good luck for the forthcoming year. This is combined with a four-leaf clover and small chimney sweep to guarantee good fortune. (Most are still waiting and hoping...)
So, it the spirit of the season, may you have Schwein, but not be a Schwein.
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.