While listening to Deutschlandradio this morning one word that kept on coming up and that I didn’t understand was Stockung. It appears mainly in traffic reports, so I assume it meant something like delays or traffic jams.

According to Reverso, Stockung means:

– interruption, hold-up; congestion, traffic jam, hold-up
– breakdown (in negotiations)
– slackening or dropping off (in trade/business)
– break, lull (in speech); pause, hesitation
– thickening; curdling (of milk)

Related expressions include:

– Verkehrsstockung = traffic jam
– der Verkehr läuft wieder ohne Stockungen = traffic is flowing smoothly again

A related verb is stocken, which means: to miss or skip a beat; to falter; to make no progress; to flag; to grind to a halt; to stagnate; to be held up or halted; to thicken; to curdle, to go sour; to become mildewed, to go mouldy/moldy.

Stockung and Stocken come from Stock (stick), which comes from the Old High German stoc, from the Proto-Germanic *Stukka (floor, beam, tree stump), from the Proto-Indo-European *(s)teu- (to push, stick, knock, beat), which is also the root of the English words stick and stock [source].

What are traffic jams / hold-ups called in your country?

This entry was posted in English, Etymology, German, Language, Proto-Indo-European, Words and phrases.

8 Responses to Stockungen

  1. Rauli says:

    In Finnish, it is ruuhka. It originally was a log driving term, and meant a congestion of logs in a river, but nowadays it refers to a traffic jam. The traffic doesn’t have to be vehicles, but also people or data. For example, if a website is down because of heavy traffic, or there are too many customers at a café, you can use the word ruuhka.

    The compound word liikenneruuhka (liikenne = traffic) refers specifically to vehicles. A large amount of people making it difficult to walk around is also called tungos, related to the verb tunkea, ‘cram, press, jam’.

    The word ruuhka-aika (aika = time) means the time of day when the amount of traffic or customers is at its peak.

    Ruuhkavuodet (‘jam years’) refers to the time in one’s life when you have to balance between taking care of your children, going to work, going to hobbies, and perhaps sleeping every once in a while.

  2. Arakun says:

    Swedish has trafikstockning which I suspect is a calque of the German word. The word stockning is a cognate of Stockung with about the same meaning.

    The word bilkö (‘car queue’) has the advantage of being a lot shorter but you can’t use it in a figurative sense like you can with trafikstockning.

    Some of the train staff have been on a strike since last Monday so I’ve seen my fair share of trafikstockningar and bilköer during the last few days.

  3. Andrew says:

    I thought the German for traffic jam was ‘Stau’.

  4. Simon says:

    Andrew – that is another word for traffic jam, but the one they use on the radio is Stockung. Verkehrsstauung is another possibility.

  5. jonas says:

    Since you ask so nicely, the Hungarian word for a traffic jam is “torlódás” (congestion, a formal word), and “dugó” (stopper, an informal word) or “közlekedési dugó”. The word “csúcsforgalom” (rush hour) is also related.

  6. Kevin says:

    That’s interesting, because on WDR5, the German station I listen to most frequently, they always use the word Stau, but contrast it with stockender Verkehr, so that you’ll get reports of (for instance) Staus und stockender Verkehr, which I take to mean “tailbacks and slow-moving traffic”, while the summary might say something like “A3 zwischen Kreuz Leverkusen und Dreieck Heumar, 4 Kilometer Stau; A59 zwischen Köln und Bonn, 7 Kilometer stockend”. I take the difference to be that traffic in a Stau is at a standstill, while stockender Verkehr is moving, but only slowly.

    The second interesting thing is that I now realize that slow-moving traffic is stockend, and not stoppend as I’d been fondly — but stupidly — imagining for years. Doh! Thanks for helping me to see the (red?) light, Simon! 🙂

  7. Jason says:

    For these purposes I even downloaded an app to my smartphone so I can analyze German on the go. It saved me from several embarassing situations. 😀

  8. caenwyr says:

    There’s a rather underused Dutch word that has a similar meaning: stokken. It means ‘to get stuck’, and is probably related to it as well. In Dutch, as in English, many verbs undergo a vowel change when going from intransitive to transitive: liggen (lie) becomes leggen (to lay), zitten (sit) becomes zetten (place) etc. Stokken is similar, and can be explained in Dutch as blijven steken.

    One Dutch expression with stokken I particularly like is used a lot in books: mijn adem stokte i.e. my breath got stuck (I caught my breath).

    Stokken is never used in Dutch to refer to traffic jam, we usually say file /’fil@/. On the radio we often hear the phrase vertraagd tot sterk vertraagd verkeer, which means ‘delayed to strongly delayed traffic’. Why keep it simple when you can go all the way, right?

%d bloggers like this: