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Word of the Week

Word of the Week: Funkstille

A friend is no longer keeping in touch? You may well be experiencing what the Germans call Funkstille, or radio silence.

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We have lost the transmission: It is an expression generally used when the radio goes unexpectedly dead or communication drops out. But the Germans have found another savvy use for Funkstille - literally radio silence, or dead air - for when interpersonal communication between two people drops off the radar.

"I haven't heard from her in weeks," he says. "There is a Funkstille between us. She no longer calls, no longer sends any text messages, no longer emails." However, for a Funkstille to be genuine, you too need to be avoiding contact. There is literally a "silence" between two people.

However, it's not all so grim. The metaphor becomes literal and is used to save lives when it comes to shipping, where a Funkstille is routine. Four times each house ship relay no radio communication for a few minutes each - thus opening the communication channels to faint distress signals which may be emitted by vessels in need of assistance.

If you are suffering from a figurative Funkstille in your life, remember: You too can pick up the phone and bring an end to the "radio silence."

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