German advertising is littered with “Denglisch” – English phrases used in the middle of German sentences.
As Germans usually have a good grasp of the basics of the world language, this ploy on the part of the marketing men may seem like sound business.
But in study released by Endmark on Monday, almost two-thirds of Germans (62 percent) admitted they don’t understand what the English in adverts means, while 72 percent were not actually able to translate the English correctly into German when put to the test.
Strangely though people surveyed were more likely to rate an English pun like Lindt chocolate’s “Nice to sweet you” as interesting than a straightforward German phrase like Ferrero’s “Großer Tag, Kleine Pause” (Big day. Small break) – despite not understanding the English.
An extreme example was Urban Decay’s “beauty with an edge” logo which only one in every six Germans understood but which a majority said they liked.
The study, which tested slogans by 20 leading brands in the German market, showed just how prevalent English is as a means of lending a product prestige – with only six of the brands deploying German catchphrases.
Speaking of advertising, one of the best German television adverts of recent years played on the sometimes suspect language skills of the people of the Bundesrepublik by making fun of their difficulty with the English 'th' and 's' sounds.
Germans’ English skills have slowly been improving over recent years, although the country did drop out of the top ten of global survey of English proficiency in countries where it is a second language in a survey published in November 2015.
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