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Denglisch and Germany's War of Words

Every year February 21 is The United Nation's (UN) 'International Mother Language Day', held to celebrate worldwide language diversity and the right to use these languages, while globalization together with the progress of modern life is bringing about the spreading, sharing and merging of languages and their usage, and German is one of the languages still evolving.

This is generating some panic in sections of the community because of the amount of "foreign", mostly English, words and phrases which in a relatively short space of time have been brought into use in everyday German, with a few politicians insisting that only original German words are used in the work place and on official documents, and that all English or "Denglisch" examples are omitted.

Meanwhile the advertising industry has also had to adjust their campaigns, to either include less of the language or at least use English that is understandable and not open to misinterpretation.

The influx of Denglisch in main stream life and advertising has been adopted and assimilated by both the young and not so young in Germany, however amongst the older generations it can cause confusion as well as a feeling of exclusion, and while many Germans speak and understand some English, with about 10 percent fluent in the language, it is also open to misinterpretation.

Here, with a partial list of words officially banned, are a few of the many Denglisch words and phrases used as direct replacements for the original German, such as a "Saugling" or "kleinkind" now more commonly known as a baby, sandwich for "Klappstulle", while "Liebesgeschichte" is a love story, together with some of the 'new' words formed from a mixture of German and English,


'Denglisch' words and phrases, with their meanings

Babysitten
Babysitting
Body Bag
Bag held close to the body
Downloaden
Downloading
Evergreen
Something that has been popular for a long while such as a song or a film
Filme
Films, Movies
Fitness Studio
Gym
Handy
Cell or mobile phone
Jobben
To work, to have a job
McJob
Low paying job
Mobbing
Bullying
Oldtimer
Vintage or classic aircraft or car
Partnerlook
Matching outfits
Patchwork family
Mixed family with children from different parents
Pullunder
Tanktop
Shooting
Photoshoot
Showmaster
TV Host
Smoking
A dinner or evening suit
Street worker
Social worker
Wellness Hotel
Spa Hotel

A few of the over 150 English words which are now in use, and which some politicians say must be replaced in the workplace and on official documents, with original German word or phrase.

Airline
Fluggesellschaft, Fluglinie
Laptop
Klapprechner
Meeting
Besprechung.
Weblog
Internettagebuch
Ticket
Fahrschein, Flugschein
Workshop
Arbeitstagung, Seminar,
Brainstorming
Ideensammlung
Backup
Sicherung, Absicherung
VIP-Lunch
Mittagessen fuer bedeutende
Personen (Ehrengaeste)
Newsletter
Info-Brief, aktuelle Mitteilung
Mail
elektronische Post, Elektropost
Know-how
Wissen
Keynote Speech
Grundsatzrede
Green Cars
gruene (umweltfreundliche) Autos
Administration
Verwaltung
Brainstorming
Ideensammlung
E-Mail
(elektronische) Nachricht
Download
Herunterladen

It is not likely that convenient, widely used and universally understood English words and phrases will disappear from Germany, the change has already gone too far.

For example when bumping into someone, it's just quicker to say "Sorry", with an emphasis on the "r", than "Entschuldigung," although that is still heard, just not as often.

And even "Computer Junkie" is easier to handle than "Bildschirmbraeune", literally "Screen Tan", which describes someone who spends a lot of their life in front of a computer screen.

Major German banks and most other businesses dealing world wide complete much of their trade in English, however, although time will certainly change their country's vocabulary in many ways, such a quick and thorough influx of new, and sometimes bizarre, terminology has also helped Germany's people to rediscover their own language.


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Small enough to be really portable but with everything you need, including some conjugations and pronunciation tips, The Langenscheidt Pocket Dictionary, English and German Edition, is ideal for everyone, from student to tourist.

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