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As a translator for English and German I practiced my language skills during the summer holidays. I went, what a surprise, to Germany, to the Baltic Sea at Germany’s Northern Coast Germany and it was beautiful.
What I find interesting, and sometimes a little humorous, is the #Denglish words you come across in Germany. These are words that are primarily English, but somehow have made it into the German language. But not always in the correct way, you see.
Now some of it is down to where these English words actually originate. Do they have their roots in the British English or have they arrived from across the pond from the US. I think I will never get used to the fact that a coffee in Germany can be ‘to go’ and not be for ‘take away’. But maybe that is just me.
Other things are little bit more different though. This summer saw the Football World Cup and there were lots of ‘Public Viewing’ areas in Germany where you could watch the matches on big screens in a crowd. Seemingly the Germans don’t really know that a public viewing may involve a dead body. And to stay with the morbid theme, rucksacks and backpacks in Germany have sometimes be labelled as ‘body bags’. Well, I leave that one to your imagination.
But sometimes this also goes the other way around. Although I would argue that German words that have made it into the English language may have simply managed this, because there simply was no alternative to the original word. I have tried numerous times to explain the meaning of ‘Schadenfreude’ (Being happy about somebody else’s misfortune, not always born out of being nasty, but usually a reaction of that somebody’s attitude having been arrogant or greedy prior to the misfortune – so more of a ‘I could see that coming’ attitude). It is not easy.
So what can we learn from this? Just that language evolves. It may not always be down to people first checking their facts, but how it gets into everyday usage. These words are often used by younger people to look trendy and modern. Or by companies to sell themselves as International in our global world. Nevertheless, it would be nice to keep some words just the way they are. Nothing against the English equivalent, but in Germany a ‘flower shop’ should always remain a Blumenladen. Much more pretty.
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