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Off topic: The curse of Denglish
Thread poster: sylvie malich

sylvie malich
Germany
Local time: 08:07
German to English
May 10, 2005

Fellow English speakers and residents of Germany,
We are well aware of the fact that the German language suffers from an infiltration of something somewhat like "English", or rather what Germans coin Denglish. These are the words that *sound* English, but no native speaker would understand.
I present below a wonderful article written by "blondelibrarian" found on the expatica website (http://www.expatica.com/source/site_article.asp?subchannel_id=183&story_id=19224&name=The%20Curse%20of%20Denglish), one that I wish I'd written and illustrates in a humorous way my sentiments exactly:

The Curse of Denglish

Two of the most common definitions of Denglish (sometimes called Germish) are: 1.) a language based on German grammar that includes a jumble of English and pseudo-English idioms, or vice versa and 2.) speech or text that uses a mixture of German and English words.

As a native English speaker in Germany I have found it interesting to see and hear all of the English that permeates the German language. What I find most unsettling though, is that while many English words introduced into German have the same meaning as they do in English, many do not. Behold the "Curse of Denglish".

For me, there are three Denglish words that come to mind as the greatest offenders and they are das Handy, das Mobbing, and der Smoking.

Das Handy translates to cell phone and is probably the first and foremost example of Denglish in German. Because cell phones are so prevalent in Germany, I can honestly say that one of the first "German" words I learned was "Handy." I have always thought that "Handy" was an odd choice for the translation of "cell phone," and I remember trying to convert my in-laws to "Mobiltelefon," but it was too late.

Everyone here calls a cell phone a "Handy," and when I finally bought my first cell phone about 6 months ago I had no trouble calling it that either. Truthfully, I suppose the term "Handy" does have its logic. After all, a cell phone can be damn "handy" at times!

However, in my opinion das Mobbing and der Smoking have no basis in logic and their German translations are so far from their English meanings that until faced with them I never would have had any idea what they meant in German.

For example, one day last spring I was sitting in my Business German class and we were doing a listening exercise. On the tape there was a woman who was complaining about how her colleagues were treating her. My teacher asked if we knew the word for this. At that time, she looked directly at me and asked what this was called in English. I tried to look like I was thinking it over, but honestly I was clueless.

Suddenly, one of the ladies in my class whispered to me "Mobbing." Then it was clear. I had heard the term "das Mobbing" before, but thought the translation of it was so bizarre that it must be something that wasn't used all that often.

Imagine my surprise to find out that it is a common business term! In German, "das Mobbing" translates to "workplace bullying," which is exactly what the woman on the tape was describing.

Der Smoking is similarly strange. As we all know, in English smoking refers to the process of inhaling or exhaling the fumes of burning tobacco (or other substances). Perhaps at one time the idea of smoking spoke of elegance and refinement, but now in America it is seen as a public nuisance and health threat.

In German, der Smoking has absolutely nothing to do with the act of smoking. I was informed that der Smoking is an article of clothing. Therefore, at first I thought perhaps der Smoking referred to a smoking jacket. However, that is false. When I looked it up in my German-English dictionary I found out that it translates to a tuxedo of all things!
And so, fellow English speakers (native or otherwise), please remember that even if they understand your English here in Germany, it doesn't necessarily mean that you will understand theirs !


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Ian M-H
United States
Local time: 02:07
German to English
+ ...
"Mobbing" isn't (just) Denglish May 10, 2005

sylvie malich wrote (quoting someone else, to be fair):
Imagine my surprise to find out that it is a common business term! In German, "das Mobbing" translates to "workplace bullying," which is exactly what the woman on the tape was describing.


In English, too. The word probably originated elsewhere (Sweden?), but I heard it for the first time in England and it's common in employment relations in English-speaking countries. See for example:

http://mobbing-usa.com/

http://www.workplacemobbing.com/


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meopp  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 01:07
English to German
+ ...
More about this topic here: May 10, 2005

http://encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.com/Pseudo-Anglicism

I always thought the funniest one is the German use of "Dressman" for male model.


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John Bowden  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:07
German to English
Mobbing... May 10, 2005

as a term for workplace bullying does seem to have originated in Sweden - see http://www.margaretmarks.com/Transblawg/archives/000816.html -

and I'm surprised to learn that it is actually also used in English, as I've never heard it before used by native speakers - howver, "mobbing" is a common term to describe the behavioue of a flock of birds who "gang up" on a bird of another species, "dive-bombing" it to drive it off their territory, and I've always assumed this is where it was borrowed from. cetainly, in more general English usage, "to mob" has a rather positive connotation, although possible potentially dangerous - "Steven Gerrard was mobbed by ecstatic Liverpool fans when he paraded the Champions' League Cup around Anfield..." (well, we can dream, can't we?)


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sylvie malich
Germany
Local time: 08:07
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
Wanna know my current personal unfavorite Denglish word? May 10, 2005

Showmasterin

aaaaaaaaarrrrhhhhhggggg!!!


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 09:07
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
The origin of Handy could be Finnish May 10, 2005

Because Nokia phones were called originally in Finnish "kännykkä", meaning "little hand", I believe the Germans coined the word Handy, pronounced händi. The meaning is, the phone is always in your hand, like a third hand.
Cell phone is a real strange word, now German would accept such a term. After all we use Handys, because we do not like to search a Telefonzelle.
Nowadays in Finland we use mostly the word "matkapuhelin", = "telephone for on the way".
Smoking is a very old word in German, and this piece of cloth is called even in Finnish "smokki", arrived here probably from German through Swedish.

This phenomenon, that words change their meaning when travelling abroad, is nothing new. All language was derived this way. There are no "real" words.

[Edited at 2005-05-10 14:16]


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Orla Ryan  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 07:07
Grrr... May 10, 2005

Wellness-Zentrum or Wellness Center - I don't know why, but I REALLY hate that one!!!

When I was studying German in college, we were given a copy of an interview with Jil Sander - full of the most atrocious Denglish I ever did see... think she said something like "Mein Leben ist ein Giving Story" and it went downwards from there, the visual equivalent of nails scraping across a blackboard. *shudder*

Orla


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Jalapeno
Local time: 08:07
English to German
I remember that one... May 10, 2005

Orla Ryan wrote:

When I was studying German in college, we were given a copy of an interview with Jil Sander - full of the most atrocious Denglish I ever did see... think she said something like "Mein Leben ist ein Giving Story" and it went downwards from there, the visual equivalent of nails scraping across a blackboard. *shudder*

Orla


I remember the Jil Sander thing. She was actually presented with an "award" for it. The Verein Deutsche Sprache named her "Sprachpanscher des Jahres 1997"...

http://vds-ev.de/denglisch/sprachpanscher/sprachschuster.php


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Sigrid Pichler
Italy
Local time: 08:07
German to Italian
+ ...
smoking May 10, 2005

Smoking is not denglish! In Italian we use it too.

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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:07
English to Spanish
+ ...
Smoking May 10, 2005

You'd be interested to know that "Smoking", often rendered as "Esmoquin" is also a "tuxedo" en Spanish. So some of these terms have been around and around!

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Steven Sidore  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 08:07
Member (2003)
German to English
Smoking is not a German invention May 10, 2005

The term 'smoking jacket' has been used in British English for a long, long time now.

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sylvie malich
Germany
Local time: 08:07
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
Steve, Steve, Steve... May 10, 2005

Steven Sidore wrote:

The term 'smoking jacket' has been used in British English for a long, long time now.


My dear, you're referring to this:
http://gloriousvintage.com/smokingjackets.html

We mean this:
http://www.modetrends-inside.de/herrenausstatter/1_261.html


((C:


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ENGSOL
German to English
+ ...
Here's another one... May 10, 2005

I assume everyone here knows what we call a Beamer in English!

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Daina Jauntirans  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:07
German to English
+ ...
Watch out for the "Shooting"! May 10, 2005

Thomas wrote:

I assume everyone here knows what we call a Beamer in English!


In the US, we call BMWs "beamers" (I guess it's actually spelled "bimmer" according to Google - I've never actually seen it written) Is that what you mean?

Another one I love to hate is "Shooting" for "photo shoot."

One of the more egregious examples I had was in a text that referred to both "Berichte" and "Reports" - turns out that in this company, the Reports were the data that the Berichte were based on. Now, honestly, who would understand that?!


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Can Altinbay  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:07
Japanese to English
+ ...
Smoking May 11, 2005

The word smoking is used for tuxedo in several languages. Turkish for one, and Japanese, although not so much any more in the latter.

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