There's A Surprisingly Apt Translation For Drumpf

by Stephanie Casella

By now seemingly everybody has heard about John Oliver ripping Donald Trump a new, proverbial... Erm, well, anyway, Oliver had a lot to say on Last Week Tonight about The Donald, but one major portion of the segment covered Trump's familial name and how it changed upon entering the U.S. from Drumpf to Trump. Sure, plenty of Americans saw their surnames altered to Americanized versions upon entering the country through Ellis or Angel Island, or wherever else, but Drumpf just has a bit of a medieval sound to it, doesn't it? It sounds like an Elven clan of blacksmiths who reside predominantly in caves — or at least that how it sounds to me. So what exactly does Drumpf mean?

As it turns out, it doesn't mean anything, but its close relative Trumpf does! According to Google Translate, "trumpf" is German for "trump card," which is a noun that refers to the game of bridge, originally — and other card games — where a playing card of a particular suit ranks above other suits, which can win a trick. It also is used to mean a valuable resource that one can use, particularly as a surprise, in order to gain an advantage.

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However, interestingly enough, the Trump surname has actually quite a few branches throughout central and southern Germany. The Guardian's Kate Connolly says it is pronounced "Droomp" by those native to the area, of course, but also varies in spelling from back before spelling really existed. Some spell it Drumb, Trumb, Tromp, Trum, Trumpff, and even Dromb.

In fact, one such Drumpf named Hanns was a lawyer back in 1608. According to journalist Gwenda Blair's book, The Trumps: Three Generations That Built An Empire , he lived in the village of Kallstadt during the Thirty Years' War. The village was burned down about five times and 40 percent of the villagers were killed. One of his surviving descendants was a winegrower named John Philip Trump. (Not coincidentally, Donald Trump of 2016 is said to have descended from winegrowers, The Guardian reported.)

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Another villager of that region was a man called Richard Bechtloff, named by Blair as a Trump family relation, who was shot dead in the street in a violent episode by French soldiers during the Napoleonic occupation of that area. The Trump family of Kallstadt produced wine throughout this time, though their products were habitually taken from them by the French. Oh, those French.

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Somehow, Donald Trump's own grandfather, Friedrich, had regained the last name Drumpf — that whole spelling not really having an official form thing, again — altering it upon his relocation to the U.S. He entered in 1885 during the height of German-to-U.S. migration, according to The Guardian. Like many, he entered through Ellis Island, but settled for some time out west. His family were winegrowers, according to The Boston Globe, but because he did not want to work as a vintner, he opened and owned restaurants, The Guardian confirmed. He made some money and moved back to the East Coast, and eventually returned to Germany to get married. Though he later attempted to repatriate with his wife, Germany basically said, "No way, man," and accused him of dodging the draft, sending him back to the U.S. from whence he came.

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Fast-forward to 2016, and John Oliver is campaigning to #MakeDonaldDrumpfAgain in an attempt to irritate the business mogul-turned presidential candidate and expose him for his lies. Whether his attempts at doing so are successful, Trump is nearly a force of nature who will find some way to retaliate over this retaliation on Oliver's part. Should he oblige and change his name back to Drumpf, nothing would really happen, but it'd make the election pretty darn funny.