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10 German words becoming extinct thanks to English

Rachel Stern
Rachel Stern - [email protected]
10 German words becoming extinct thanks to English
Germans are into sport, but not Leibesertüchtigung anymore. Photo: DPA

Many Germans love their English words, so much so that they are substituting and sometimes replacing them for their own.


In the past English terms were integrated into German by being Germanized. The word for Skyscraper, for example, became the nearly literal Wolkenkratzer or Hochhaus. Yet while the Teutons used to search for translations, more modern Germans prefer simply to weave the English words into their vocabulary, meaning the German words are starting to die out.

Here are are a few we have overheard lately in shops, offices and on the street.


A Flyer from Deutsche Bahn, which ran a campaign against English used among employees. Photo: DPA

The original German word for these advertisements passed out by hand is perhaps the most fitting. But Flyer found its way into German à la English. Not all Germans were happy about it though: in 2010, Deutsche Bahn launched a campaign for its employees to use German rather than Denglish among their clients. Handzettel topped a list of the most common Denglish to avoid. These are sometimes similarly called Flugblätter in reference to papers dropped from planes. 


Das Baby is now the typical German word for any newborn. Photo: depositphotos/GekaSkr

If you refer to your new offspring as this, rather than das Baby, you might sound old enough to be its great great grandparent. The equivalent of suckling in English, this is the traditional term for a newborn under a year old.


A women going 'joggen' in Berlin's Tiergarten. Photo: DPA

In the past, those people lacing up their Laufschuhe and racing through the park in the morning would be called Dauerläufer (joggers). Now they simply go joggen and, instead of shopping for stylish shoes at the former Fachgeschäft für Dauerläufer, head to shops with sportier modern names such as Runners Point. 


German olympian Laura Dahlmeier after scoring her second gold medal. Photo: DPA

The introduction of the equivalent term "sport“ in German is actually credited to a German himself, flashy Prince Hermann von Pückler-Muskau (1785-1871), a larger-than-life-personality who romanced countless women and travelled Europe and the Ottoman Empire. He picked it up during his trips to England and Ireland. In German, the term "sport“ is in heavy use while the previously used "Leibesertüchtigung“ will raise millennials’ eyebrows. 


Marketing, now the same word in English and German. Photo: depositphotos/Rawpixel

If you say this word to colleagues at your trendy Berlin office while trying to show off your German vocabulary, you will likely be met with some strange stares. Nowadays people will simply say das Marketing, a word that in and of itself has been marketed throughout Deutschland. 


Darts, formerly the less sexy sounding Pfeilwurfspiel Photo: depositphotos/destinacigdem

While some German words are proudly long, die Deutschen have trimmed down Darts, which is sometimes also dubbed Dartspiel. Only at the most antique of Kneipen (bars) are you likely to see this name of the famous pub game rather than its trendier equivalent. 


A financial planning meeting using Denglish. Photo: depositphotos/pressmaster

Just like with the word marketing, das Meeting is the modern day equivalent you will hear in most German offices, which use so many English phrases that you might wonder which language you’re listening to. Take this example we overhead at a German office last week. “Heute haben wir ein Meeting mit den Consultants, um neue Developments zu diskutieren.”


A Reisebüro, or travel office, in Germany. Photo: DPA

Previously Pauschalpreis was the term used to describe the package price of a service, mostly at Reisebüros (travel offices). While some Reisebüros remain, there is no more Pauschalpreis. You can expect to the see another stolen English term: flat rate. 


A large choice of Cutters, as they are nowadays called in German. Photo: depositphotos/Michael

Some words in German are simplified so much that they eventually become English. This handy utility knife is often just dubbed a Messer. But nowadays you are more likely to hear young people simply calling it by its function in English: a cutter. 


You are far more likely to hear Sorry than any of its German equivelants nowadays. Photo: depositphotos/bigandt

If you bump into someone on the U-Bahn and are still struggling to pronounce the German language, fear not. Instead of uttering the long-winded Entschuldigung, you can easily get away with a simply "Sorry!" the term most German youth (and their parents' generation) will employ. But Verzeihung, taking on the same sense of surprise followed by a quick pardon, is a word you aren't likely to hear much these days, save for at the fanciest of dinner parties. 


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