Mainstream, der

This is one of the arsenal of disparaging terms that German writers can use to suggest that their own obscure tastes or opinions are far superior to the majority tastes of their parents, children, cousins and other contemporaries. The idea is to explain your own eccentric opinions or musical tastes and then patronizingly point out that they are not yet appreciated by the Philistines of der Mainstream. In English, the main stream is literally the principal current in a body of water, and one can thus speak of mainstream tastes, opinions and science (in adjectival use, the two words can be merged), meaning the normal, conventional and prevailing point of view. Interestingly, the phrase has a positive character in English: the writer usually describes some other person's nutty ideas and then gently explains that they cut no ice with the mainstream experts. There is even a verb, to mainstream, meaning to establish a previously eccentric idea within the canon on accepted views. The negative connotation in German is an interesting example of the fascination with dissidence that Somerset Maugham notes in Of Human Bondage. A comparable example of this patronizing treatment of anything common is the phrase im Volksmund, which one uses to quote a mocking German word or phrase while affecting not to be amused at it or pretending to be personally unwilling to use the term (although one really is doing so). Hamburger Abendblatt writer Matthias Gretzschel for example describes a Dresden bridge thus: die Loschwitzer Elbbrücke, die im Volksmund völlig zu Recht "Blaues Wunder" genannt wird (2008-07-05). One supposes that his mother or father had used the phrase Blaues Wunder but Gretzschel feels it is too trite by his own personal standards of originality. Der Mainstream is capitalized, given masculine gender and may be pronounced with an uvular R. It has its stress shifted from the second syllable (English) to the first (German).

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