You can be born in a city and live there for thirty years and you still can’t have seen everything: I was quite surprised when I learned about a fountain called ‘Tränke‘ (watering place) at my hometown Göttingen, Germany. It is a fountain that dates back to the year 1776 (!) and is today a protected memorial. The water comes from the Ratsbrunnen well and runs via a large stone into a trough.

In the past this fountain was used to wash clothes or give water to the horses. Today it is mostly a playground for kids. You can find it in the historic village center of Geismar, in the street Im Kolke. Geismar was first mentioned in 1055 and remained independent until 1964 when it became a city quarter of Göttingen. According to Jacob Grimm the name ‘Geismar‘ translates to ‘place of the bubbling springs‘; how well-fitting!

Im Kolke

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2 Replies to “Tränke”

  1. Hello from California, Stefan! Perhaps you can help me with something I am writing. You say that you got your meaning of the name Geismar from Grimm: “According to Jacob Grimm the name ‘Geismar‘ translates to ‘place of the bubbling springs.” I know your blog is not intended to be scholarly, but if you could possibly find where JG says that, and let me know, I’d be grateful enough to mention your help in print. Please try to find it! Thank you so much.

  2. Hi Marijane! Happy to help – even though this is really far away from my former research area. This statement comes from this source:

    Kristin Casemir, Uwe Ohainski, Jürgen Udolph: Die Ortsnamen des Landkreises Göttingen. In: Jürgen Udolph (Hrsg.): Niedersächsisches Ortsnamensbuch (NOB). Band 4. Verlag für Regionalgeschichte, Bielefeld 2003, ISBN 3-89534-494-X, S. 149 ff.

    They state that Jacob Grimm relates Geismar to the Old High German word gîsan, meaning ‘spirare, bullire’/’sprudeln, sprühen, Blasen werfen’/’fizz, spray, throw bubbles’. Their source is page 402 of:

    Jacob Grimm: Geschichte der dt. Sprache. Leipzig 1853.

    And there you’ll find (referring to Geismar and Hofgeismar in Northern Hesse, close-by): ‘was Geismar bedeutete, entgeht uns, weil aber mehrere Örter dieses namens auf hessischem, engrischem und thüringischem boden Vorkommen (die hessischen in urkunden des eilften, zwölften jh. chesmari, gesmere, geismere, bei Pertz 2, 825 steht gaesmere), darf man einen mythischen und chattischen bezug kaum bezweifeln: die Wurzel gisan geis spirare, bullire, wovon geist, spiritus, halitus und goth. gaisjan metu percellere, usgeisnan stupere leitet auf heidnischen brauch an heiliger quelle; bei Geismar liegt ein Sauerbrunnen, bei Hofgeismar ein Gesundbrunnen.’

    He indeed refers to gîsan and gaisjan; which might mean ‘pagan custom at holy spring’. Greetings from Germany! Stefan

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