More About Pilsator

Just yesterday, I wrote about Pilsner in Germany and how it lost its geographic indication the courts, including a beer named Pilsator. Of course, I couldn’t resist looking a bit more what was written about it in the newspapers after the name was announced. Let’s just say… the classic philologists and linguists weren’t particularly impressed.

On 17th August 1909, Professor Dr. J. Röhr pointed out that the suffix -ator indicates a male person performing a particular action, such as mercator for merchant, viator for traveller, lignator for woodcutter, etc., so for somebody who has any idea about Latin, a pilsator is somebody who pilses (don’t we all like to pils every now and then?).

In a short newspaper article in Bielefeld from the 19th of the same month, Pilsator is called a “badly done portmanteau of two words every beer drinker should know, Pilsner and Salvator”, and the fact that Böhmisches Brauhaus simply used two existing terms made them not look particularly sympathetic.

And on a similar note, a Cologne newspaper mentions that the inventor must have thought about Salvator but had no idea about the Latin roots of the -ator suffix and how to correct apply it, making “Pilsator” yet another “language stupidity” that will shout at people from thousands of ads and countless beer casks and bottles. The author even recommended that Gustav Wustmann should add this word to the next edition of his book “Allerhand Sprachdummheiten: kleine deutsche Grammatik des Zweifelhaften, des Falschen und des Hässlichen” (lit. All sorts of linguistic stupidities: a little German grammar of the dubious, the wrong and the ugly).

On the 23rd September, German writer Johannes Trojan, introduced as drinker and language connoisseur, responded to Prof. Dr. Röhn by saying that that scientific standpoint should not be considered, as “Pilsator” is a beautiful and bite-sized name that alludes to both Pilsner and Salvator.

At the shareholders’ meeting in December 1909, criticism was voiced about the naming competition, but one of the judges defended it that it was good advertising for the brewery and got people to talk about the brewery and the new beer. In total, an increase in sales of 1,000 hl was attributed to it by the directors.

And in March 1910, Böhmisches Brauhaus released a new Bockbier, aptly named Pilsator-Bock:

An ad for Böhmisches Brauhaus Pilsator Bock from March 1910.
An ad for Böhmisches Brauhaus Pilsator-Bock from March 1910.

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