“Say it Right!” Common German HEMA Terms (Part 1)

by Dagi Johnson

“Say it Right!” is an ongoing series to help English speaking HEMA practitioners pronounce foreign terminology. Voice overs will typically be native speakers of the language. It should be noted that, just like in English, there are multiple dialects within any language, but this series will give students a starting place so as not to completely butcher another country’s tongue. It should also be noted that historical spellings are often different than modern ones, and sometimes multiple spellings can be found of a single term. For the sake of consistency, we have chosen to use modern spellings whenever possible.

Terms used in the video:


Vom Tag: “From the Day” (historically, other spellings existed, such as “vom Dach” and “vom Tach”, which suggest that it may have meant “From the Roof” to our ancestors.)

Ochs: The Ox

Pflug: The Plow

Alber: The Fool/Jester

Other common guards:

Langen Ort: Long point

Nebenhut: Side guard

Schrankhut: Barrier guard


Oberhau: Strike from Above

Unterhau: Strike from Below

Mittelhau: Horizontal Strike

Zornhau: Wrath Strike

Krumphau: Crooked Strike

Zwerchhau: Thwart Strike

Schielhau: Squinting Strike

Scheitelhau: Scalp Strike

Wechselhau: Changing Strike

Sturzhau: Plunging Strike


Langschwert: Longsword


Video: Voice over- Dagi Johnson, Fencers-Henry “Hank” McLemore and Bill Grandy

About the Author: Dagi Johnson was born and raised in Munich, Germany and started her HEMA studies at the Virginia Academy of Fencing in 2008 with a focus on the German Liechtenauer tradition of fencing. Her native german background helps the team at VAF to properly pronounce, and at times, understand the terms and descriptions in the historical documents. She is a collector of historically accurate swords and one of her goals is to eventually train her horses for Rossfechten (mounted combat) per Liechtenauer. With fitness being another passion she is also constantly searching for new ways to incorporate swords into fitness routines.


5 thoughts on ““Say it Right!” Common German HEMA Terms (Part 1)

    • Growing up in Southern Germany the word “krumm” still exists, but not “krump”. However if “krumm” is used it is often used as “kumpfert”, especially in that part of Germany, meaning “crooked”. So for me the pronunciation is more “Krumpfhau” with a hint of an “f” in between the p and the h. If that makes sense?
      People from the more Northern parts might say it slightly different.


      • I was hoping you found a manuscript with that spelling, that would have been so cool and helped with the question of the 2. phase of the second consonant shift.

        Most German dialects will not have affrication here. (the pf instead of p) Might be worth adding that to the description since it might be confusing for non-fluent speakers who usually only encounter SHG. 🙂


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