• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3

'The only way to fight Denglisch is with English'

The Local · 13 May 2014, 12:15

Published: 13 May 2014 12:15 GMT+02:00

Since moving to Germany I have been hearing numerous complaints about the Anglicization of the local language and of the overuse of Englis(c)h words in German - the dreaded ‘Denglisch’.

Modern Germans (and even the not-so-modern ones) go shoppen (shopping as a past time, and not as tedious grocery shopping), they have TelCos (a conference call), they chat (message friends online), they email and they hold on to Jobs in which they are occasionally asked to brainstorm with their colleagues and meet deadlines.

They do a lot of cool things in Denglisch rather than in German.

The phenomenon of Germans using and adapting English words could be rooted in the German language itself, which often does not have quick work-arounds.

The short and oh-so-long of it

One need only compare Berlin’s public transport announcement of, ‘Bitte beachten Sie beim Aussteigen die Lücke zwischen Zug und Bahnsteigkante’ to the London Tube’s: ‘Mind the Gap!’. Only one of these ended up printed on T-shirts.

One of the most attractive things about English is how it produces catchy phrases. They may not be 100 percent precise, but they do get the message across. This creates a lively and bubbly language which is being adopted around the world.

Yet Denglisch is becoming an ever more contentious issue in Germany.

Language society leaders, such as Professor Walter Krämer, lead campaigns against it and last year Deutsche Bahn urged staff to stop using some 2,000 Denglisch phrases.

Despite that, ‘Länder Tickets’ are still selling well and railway stations continue to offer train times at ‘Information Points’.

Problem is in front of their noses

I think the problem is on the silver screen - both large and small. Although American and British television and cinema productions are abundant in Germany, they are all dubbed. 

This leaves Germans far less exposed to English than people in Nordic countries or the Netherlands.

Living in a dubbed bliss, the average German never comes to care about such television classics as ‘Are You Being Served?’ with its pun-driven humour. They never delight in recognizing Miss Piggy notes in Master Jedi Yoda’s voice.

The problem is that while cocooned within the German-filtered world, Germans can live most of their lives without hearing actual English, and may well end up thinking that Denglisch is accurate.

And why should they think otherwise? The media bombards the public with a mélange of Denglisch-German, spicing up dubbed German dialogue with phrases like ‘spass weekends’, ‘travel angebot’, ‘fashion und style’ and the occasional offer of a ‘welcome-drink’.

A hybrid with no rules

This creates a hybrid language which does not adhere to the grammar rules of either German or English, while simultaneously denying exposure to the true sense of a foreign culture – its language.

Story continues below…

Yet if the German media constantly uses it, why should people not get a few linguistic kicks from a bit of Denglisch?

Why should they not come to think that a Showmaster is the English term for a show host, and an Oldtimer a valid nickname for a classic car?

If those words are never heard in a real English context, a German speaker can never realize that a Showmaster in English hints at a person far more ill-natured than a show host, and an Oldtimer means an old or experienced person rather than an automobile.

It is high time the Germans take a cue from the Scandinavians and keep original language in the cinema and on the telly. This would help to keep the German language German and English, well… let's leave that problem to those at the helm of the Oxford English Dictionary.

Have you got something you want to let off steam about? Email news@thelocal.de to take part in Reader Rants.

SEE ALSO: Ten English words with a different meaning in German

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
We'll crush German airlines, boasts Ryanair boss
Michael O’Leary. Photo: DPA

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary has told a German newspaper that German rivals Air Berlin and Eurowings are doomed.

All aboard the €3,000 train ride from Berlin to London
Hercule Poirot on the Orient Express. Photo: Arte/DPA

One imagines that there is more than one Londoner who has moved to Germany in pursuit of Christopher Isherwood’s Berlin. Now they have the chance to travel like him, too.

Adidas to bring production home with robot shoe factory
File photo: DPA

Adidas, the German maker of sportswear and equipment, announced Tuesday that it will start marketing its first series of sportshoes manufactured by robots in Germany from 2017.

Passersby spur on mob as they attack refugees
File Photo: DPA

When four refugees were attacked near a tram stop in a town on the German-Polish border on Monday evening, pedestrians egged on their assailants.

Pegida enraged by black children on chocolate bars
Screenshot: Facebook

Members of anti-Islam group Pegida were outraged this week to see photos of black and Middle Eastern children on packets of Kinder chocolate bars – until they found out who the kids really were.

Germany gets its way over fresh aid for Greece
Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble appears to have got his way at a Brussels showdown. Photos: DPA

Greece will get extra cash in the coming months to cover its debt repayments – but there'll be no cut to the total amount before the next elections in Germany.

Five sure-fire ways to impress Germans with your manners
Chancellor Angela Merkel showing up French President François Hollande in a neighbourly battle of table manners. Photo: DPA.

Despite what stereotypes might have you believe, Germans aren't that different from the rest of us when it comes to social interactions. But these tips should at least help guide you through the minor quirks that come with your next dinner invitation.

Thugs' ‘dream cop’ in court for not investigating 100 cases
Fans at a VfL Bochum match set off flares. Photo: DPA

For three years a police officer in western Germany simply ignored many of the cases he was supposed to investigate. His trial started on Tuesday in Bochum.

Police arrest suspect in murder of Chinese student
Police secure the crime scene where Yanjie Lie's body was found on May 13th. Photo: DPA

Police have made an arrest in the case of a Chinese student murdered while she was out jogging a week ago, media reported on Tuesday.

Berlin thief shows heart in surprising act of kindness
Photo: DPA

Pickpockets are an ever more common phenomenon in the German capital. But sometimes they can surprise you.

Sponsored Article
Eat, learn, live: unforgettable holidays in France
Lifestyle
6 things about Munich that will stay with you forever
Technology
Church plans to connect with faithful at Wi-Fi 'Godspots'
Technology
Online hate speech can cost users thousands of Euros
Society
Bavarians in rush for non-lethal weapons licenses
Sport
Here's Germany's Mannschaft for Euro 2016
Culture
The Syrian pianist playing his way into Germans' hearts
The parrot who flew fast enough to trigger a speed camera
Business & Money
Surprise results give Germany strongest growth in two years
Technology
New law could let free Wi-Fi bloom across Germany
Politics
Berlin's plans to beef up the German army
Munich
The bloody knife attack that shocked a Bavarian town
National
Supermarkets must pay massive fine for fixing beer prices
Sport
Lufthansa's Euro 2016 ad takes aim at England
Culture
The 6 German words you need to know for spring
Culture
6 weird and wonderful ways Germans celebrate May 1st
Gallery
Feast your eyes on Germany in springtime bloom
National
4/20: Five things to know about weed in Germany
Berlin
Police break up hipster swarm at vegan restaurant opening
Politics
Merkel allows Erdogan case against German satirist to go ahead
Travel
7 of Germany's most jaw-dropping national parks
Hamburg
Gay penguins move to Hamburg to settle down
Business & Money
See-through €5 coin has collectors lining up
Health
Vegan hemp powder recalled over fear toddlers getting high
7,703
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd