Iron Klaus, or Tetsu no Klaus
I've always assumed that the nickname "Iron Klaus" is a pun on the
English phrase "iron clause". (And for those whose native language is
not English, it's a fairly common phrase for a clause in a contract that
cannot be broken.) I figured that the phrase was probably about the same
in German, as German and English have quite a few cognates, and that
Aoike-san had come across it in research and named her hero for the sake
of the play on words.
Then yesterday I finally bothered to look up "iron" and "clause" in a
German-English dictionary, and discovered that German for "clause" is
"Klausel", which is close but a bit of a stretch for the pun, and that
"iron" isn't a German word at all; in German it's "Eiserne".
It seemed kind of odd to me that a German character would have a
nickname that was a pun in English, so I asked Nico (who is German) about this.
I have certain doubts that Iron Klaus is a pun on that English phrase.
In Japanese he is called Tetsu no Klaus, Klaus (made) of iron, and not
"Irono Kurausu" (or however they would spell his name), means it isn't an English term to start with, but a Japanese one. This speaks against any pun on an English phrase, but a more general one, which one should be able to understand, no matter which language the manga is in.
I remember (even though I'm not sure where that phrase originally came
from) that there is a German phrase describing our soldiers, especially
during the second world war (maybe also WWI) as "hart wie Kruppstahl". It's a bit tricky to translate that phrase. "Hard as steele from Krupps"
I think would be the best translation.
Krupps is nowadays a company selling electric equipment, everything from
dish washers to toasters:) During WWII it was (if I am not fully
also into producing metal as well as (heavy) weaponry, and their
said to be the hardest and best produced in Germany at that time.
I don't know how old that company is, but it's possible their building
weapons reaches back into the last century, especially building heavy
canons for whatever war Germany fought in.
So the "hart wie Kruppstahl" phrase was somewhat of a compliment to the
German soldiers' physique and ability to endure hardships, not easy to
The other phrase which comes to my mind is "der Eiserne Kanzler"
Chancellor), the nickname Reichskanzler Otto von Bismarck earned
was chancellor of Germany (around 1870-1900, not sure about the
a the moment). I imagine him very much like Klaus' father, hard,
calculating up to a certain point, no nonsense, proud of Germany and his
grand heritage, a brilliant strategist etc.
So I would assume that the "iron" in Iron Klaus is probably based on
two phrases. The pun against the Iron Chancellor might make fun of his
behaviour, his aristocratic and somewhat conservative upbringing, so
ancient he could have lived in Bismarck's times. The other pun "hart wie
Kruppstahl", describing German soldiers during WWII, is probably
against his physique as well as his temper, the blockheaded German
I don't think Klaus has anything to do with "clause" at this point. It's
simply part of his name. But the "iron" part is a pun against his German
heritage, no matter which language you are in, English or Japanese.
And no, iron is certainly not a German word. The only German word we
that spells similarly is "ironisch/Ironie" (ironic/irony) ;-)
Anne (former historical linguist)
Actually, "iron" and "eisen/eisern" are cognates coming from the same
Germanic and before that Indo-European root. The original Old Englisch
was also "isen/isern" and the other Germanic languages also have "s."
This change from "s" to "r" is called rhotacism and it occurs quite
often in languages. Other examples in English would be "was/were" and
I just want to add that I wouldn't think the "iron=German" reference was intended to make fun of Klaus or Bismarck or anything else, but simply to characterize Klaus. But then, I like Bismarck.
Right, I think it's very likely that the writer, who's
acknowledged to be a nut case of the western history,
nicknamed the Major inspired by that of Bismarck, though the
German politician is rather known as "Iron-Blood Chancellor"
among us Japanese. (If I remember correctly, "iron" here
signifies industry whereas "blood" means military.) You may
have recalled that Klaus is also portrayed as "Prince Iron
Blood" in James the Coin King story.
"Blood and iron" was a favorite phrase of Bismarck's. The most famous
instance of his using it was when he said, "The great questions of the
day will not be settled by speeches and majority decisions, but by blood
Anyway, kudos to Aoike-san, making a hell of a good pun without even meaning to, in a language she doesn't even speak.
That's true. For instance, the titles of the stories make me
wonder if she intended to make them puns or not. The
original Japanese title for "Pandastic Maze" (actually it's
in Chinese) is, strictly speaking, "A Maze Like Panda,"
which really doesn't make sense other than that it suggests
that the story has something to do with China. But if a
person familiar with English language associates "like
panda" to "pandastic" to "fantastic," it starts sounding
like a pun.
A couple of months later, Masae cited an article by a British author that described a homosexual as "a bit of an iron". A footnote explained that this expression was derived from Cockney rhyming slang, "iron hoof" for "poof" (homosexual). She suggested this might have something to do with why Lawrence sniggers when saying Klaus's nickname. Turns out Aoike-san is even better at unintentional plays on words than we thought.