Film and Theater Dictionary for the Art Department

(Work in progress)

English – German – Turkish

Inspired by my work in Istanbul I started compiling this dictionary. Specially exciting for me is the colloquial language in different countries and the interchange with colleagues. I am quite sure the dictionary is full of mistakes and it is certainly incomplete, therefore any comments and suggestions will be happily received.


Here are some examples:

What is cheesecloth?

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During my work in Canada on the Sci-Fi series “Lexx” we used cheesecloth in the Set Dec Department as decorating material, raw or dyed, or even as cleaning rag. A wonderful material and very good value for money. You can buy it everywhere, 80 cm across and in any length.

Back in Germany, I couldn’t find „cheesecloth/Käsetuch“ anywhere. Nobody knew what I was talking about. Even a dairy couldn’t help me. After showing it to a veterinary surgeon friend of mine it turned out to be „surgical gauze/Verbandsmull“ and you can find it in any medical wholesales and therefore it is more expensive.

Looking for exactly the same material “surgical gauze”/ „sargı bezi“ or „pansuman pamuk kumaş“ in Istanbul turned out to be quite an adventure. We eventually found some at the bazaar in Eminönü, in a small shop selling cotton and linen used for funerals “shroud“/“kefen bezi“. In bales of 100m in length and very cheap. My Turkish director was a little surprised about the bill of this shop, but even more so on the effects this fabric produced.


The camera peeks under a bed, what does it see ?

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Maybe a dead body or a monster? The “main actors” in this scene are called in German “dust mice/Staubmäuse”, “wool mice/Wollmäuse”, “little dust fluff/Staubflöckchen” or “little dust cloud/Staubwölkchen” and they reproduce secretly and quietly.

In English I only found “dust bunny” and I am curious to find other colloquial terms.
The English – Turkish translation leads to “dust bunny/toz tavşanı”. My Turkish friends told me they call it also “dust ball or little dust cloud/toz yumağı” singular but they appear mostly in larger families so they call it in plural “toz yumakları”. Colloquially they are called “tatak”.


The nice spelling “robdöşambır” phonetically transcribed from the French word “robe de chambre” 

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Again at the bazaar in Eminönü I was looking for a dressing gown for theater. After a long search with my Turkish assistant, we could just select from two pieces. He did not understand why persons we asked did not know the term “robdöşambır” (dressing gown). Days later we got to know what went wrong. “Bornoz” (bathrobe) is the term used today, “robdöşambır” is more elegant but outdated and not generally known any more.