“Da wo Platz ist”, literally put them anywhere you find space. This is what the Germans would say if you ask something like “Where shall I put the shopping bags?” Space seems to play a very important role in German: just look around, don't hesitate, take it if you find it.

There are countless examples where English perceives things as a point or surface as in: at the moment, good at German, on TV, on the radio; German in contrast sees them spatially: im Moment, im Fernsehen, im Radio. On the other hand for one little German word "Platz" there are at least seven English words depending upon what they refer to: place, space, room, seat, square, pitch, court. Apart from the word "Raum" room German labels them all "Platz". The metaphor of spatial orientation and journey is evident in the preposition "to" (again of Germanic origin).

The word Platz maybe a nominalization of "platzen" to burst; a verb that is very much related to the spatial oreintation. But the word "Platz" goes back to Latin which is ultimately of Greek origin. The question is how "platzen" burst, split" led to the noun "Platz: Ort"? Is it because when something bursts it occupies more space? The sound platzen is onomapoetic. Duden says the noun Platz goes back via Latin to Greek 'plateia (sc. hodos)' = broad (street) but the verb comes from the noun.

Dr. Jamshid Ibrahim
Bremen - Germany