Von Will O'Ryan


    The makeshift settlement has become the focal point in France of Europe’s migrant crisis, fought over by politicians and a constant source of tensionSpannungtension with Britain

    The Telegraph,10 October 2016


    This is an extract from an article entitledmit dem Titelentitled “France: Britain has ‘moral duty’ to take in migrant children”. The settlement referred to is the migrant camp in Calais, known as “the Jungle”.


    “Makeshift” is typically used as an adjective meaning “serving as an interimvorläufig, zwischenzeitlichinterim or temporary substitute or measureMaßnahmemeasure”. One can, for example, place a row of pillowKissenpillows on the floor to form a “makeshift bed” or formulate a “makeshift solution” to an urgent problem. This may be reformulated later, when more time and money are available for a long-term solution. Depending on the context, one might translate the word as behelfsmäßig, notdürftig or provisorisch. But the combination of adjective and noun will often be translated as a compound noun in German. For example, a “makeshift bed” might be a Notlager, a “makeshift arrangement” a Provisorium and a “makeshift method” a Behelfsverfahren. “Makeshift” is also sometimes used on its own as a noun (Notbehelf, Notlösung), for example: “That’s a clever device, but it’s only a makeshift.”


    Not surprisingly, this word is a combination of the verb “make” and the noun “shift”. ultimatelyletztendlichUltimately, “shift” goes back to the Old English verb sciftan / scyftan, which had various meanings, among them “arrange, place, order, divide, distribute, share”. Around 1300, it took on the sense of “go, move (sth.)”, and a noun meaning “movement” (and later “change”) arose. The noun “makeshift”, which is attested from the 1560s, originally meant “shiftygerissen, verschlagenshifty person, rogueSchurke, Gaunerrogue”, but that sense was later lost. The first adjectival usage (meaning “substitute”) that comes close to the current sense of the word was recorded in the 1680s.

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