Did you know that Germans have a marked preference for adding English words into the German language? Yes indeed, and not just since the internet made the round and conquered the world. There are two expressions that describe this phenomenon – Anglicism and the other more German one – Denglisch (German version) Denglish (English version).
Anglicism is the English language influence and impact on other languages (according to Wiki).
Denglisch just refers to a mix of German and English words and expressions within the German language. Wiki explains it as ‘”an influx of English, or pseudo-English, vocabulary into the German language through travel and English’s widespread usage in advertising, business and iInformation technology are Gerglish, Angleutsch and Engleutsch.”
When I grew up I learned words like pullover, teenager, t-shirt and TV. As a teenager, I and my friends found it very attractive to express ourselves in English. Words like “cool”, “partyen” and “relaxen” belonged to our daily vocabulary. Most of our ‘cool’ English expressions came from English speaking songs as there was no internet or English speaking TV program yet. Our parents mostly shook their heads. My parents never learned English at school and found it hard to keep up with the constant influx of new English words into the language.
I still remember one day when my mom was reading ads in the newspaper and wondered what a “Monteinbieke” is (had to spell it in German :-)). I looked puzzled first, then took the paper myself and figured out that it actually was a ‘mountain bike’. I knew then that this was getting to a point of ridiculousness.
These days Germans almost need to have learned English in order to still understand the media, advertising industry and politics in Germany. Several years ago my mom finally bought an English – German dictionary to keep up with this crazy trend.
Of course a lot of words related to computer technology, the internet, the software industry came from the English language as countries like America were the trend setter in these industries. In some cases there didn’t even any German words exist for the English expressions. Examples are ‘internet’, ‘software’, ‘to surf’…just to mention a few.
But Germans also adapted words where we had had German expressions in the past. Instead of ‘eine Firmenmarke’ we now have a ‘brand’ , ‘eine Schönheit’ is now a ‘beauty’ and ‘eine Veranstaltung’ is an ‘event’ today. The first Denglish dictionaries popped up over the past years, which indicates that this trend is going to stay.
German is a beautiful, deep and complex language. Goethe, Brecht, Schiller, Lessing, Grass and other German poets used it to create beautiful, lasting masterpieces of literature out of it.
Living in the US as a German is a constant struggle – not only to improve my English but to also maintain my German as clean as possible. Seeing my fellow countrymen then using all that English because it may sound better and feels more hip saddens me.
You can imagine if English all the sudden got invaded by a bunch of Spanish, French or even Chinese words? You would start to wonder at some point what may become out of your mother tongue. I find myself in the same situation wondering what the German language will look like in 20, 50 or 100 years. Will there be a German language left or just Denglish?