This strange phenomenon has been bugging me for a while now. But also providing me with lots of amusement – it can be quite hilarious.
It sounds really strange but there is an abundance of words that Germans use in every day life that they think are English. They like to invent English sounding words that are.. just not English. In the rare cases that they are in fact English words, they are used in a really wrong context.
I’ve come with a short list of some of the words that I have noticed the past few months being used a lot:
This is the most obvious one and one that you will see and hear everywhere if you come to Germany. The Germans use this word for mobile telephone. And whilst a mobile phone certainly is accessible and helpful – saying ‘I got a new Handy’ just sounds odd.
Being at university and in a classroom/lecture hall setting on a daily basis, I hear this one all the time. We might use this to describe a BMW but nope, the Germans use this on the daily when talking about a projector – I assume because it beams light or something?
This one always gives me a good laugh. I went to the Therme Erding spa and pool last week and it was everywhere. You see it on shop adverts or holiday brochures all the time. I mean obviously this word does exist in English as we would use it to refer to fitness and happiness etc… but the Germans say things like ‘Would you like to do some wellness?’ and they specifically mean a spa. ‘Wellness area’ = spa area.. em?
I went and tested out some make up at the Ludwig in Marienplatz last month and the lady who tested out the products on my face wanted to speak in English to practice. She kept asking me if I would like to buy some ‘peeling’. She looked at me so confused when I said I didn’t quite understand. She was adamant that was the right word. Aparently it means exfoliation and I assume this is because the practice of exfoliation sort of peels off the dead layer of skin. Since then I have seen it everywhere in beauty shops.
5. Showmaster and Talkmaster
Self explanatory. Talkmaster = talk show host.
There are lots of others like Sprayer for Graffiti artist and pull under for a piece of clothing you wear under another but I will stop now or I will end up going on all day.
Apart from certain words, you will also see lots of Hybrid German English phrases sneaking around, sometimes known as Denglisch. They are very.. strange.
On youtube for example you will see tutorials for ’10 Minunten Make Up, 100 komplette Looks’. Or when booking flights – ‘Last Minute Flüge!’ One man who I tutor in English grammar kept asking me to do ‘drills’ with him when he meant exercise. Turns out that they use this word in German for English grammar excercises all the time. Germans will just throw in English phrases in any sentence as well – at work I overheard a conversation during the Fasching festival that this week at work would be laid back – ‘Diese Woche sind wir sehr easy – going.’ Hmmmm. Working in an office I see lots of this as I think the whole Denglish thing started in the computing world – I see things like ‘downgeloadet’ and ‘gesendet’ every day.
I suppose its all due to the globalisation of the word and that this huge old place is becoming smaller. I don’t like this Anglicisation, the Germans have a wonderful language and they need to preserve it. Aparently I am not the only one with this opinion as DB Trains (Deutsche Bahn) have been attempting to crack down on these weird hybrid German English phrases in the work place. This involved issuing every single employee with a dictionary of phrase used and the translation into the proper German word. For example, instead of Flyern (for flyers) they are to use Handzetteln which is the proper German word.
I really hope the Germans cling on to their beautiful language and don’t let it become invaded too much by English. It seems crazy because these weird mixtures of phrases are actually really hard to understand – the Germans don’t understand them and the English don’t understand them.
I will leave you with the wonderful translation on the side of our sauna shower in Slovenia this past weekend, someone relied on Google Translate too heavily maybe? Gave me laugh hope it gives you one too!