by Helga Gruendler-Schierloh
The recent invasion of many English words penetrating the German language, has created the unique linguistic equation of Deutsch + English = Denglisch. Today’s global community is embracing the inventions of modern technology and honoring the genius of its creators by retaining their original terminology. Prime examples are: Computer, Internet, Facebook, Instagram, which all have become accepted and integrated in many another foreign tongue.
It is an entirely different story when English expressions act as linguistic perps that unnecessarily replace century-old, traditional, home-grown German verbs, which are dissected and battered about until they eventually emerge as a fix that’s neither German nor English, but a bastardized word born from the mix. While some Denglish verbs manage to keep the meaning of older definitions, there are others that mutate in application along with their spelling revisions.
It is not unusual for Germans to embrace English words ending with “ing” – then simply replace those three letters with “en,” a common German verb ending. As a result, instead of frequenting the typical “Fitness Studio,” you may choose “walken” and “joggen” through the lush greenery of a nature’s paradise. And, afterwards, you can “relaxen,” or go “online” to “chatten” or ‘uploaden” a movie that may subsequently “downloaden” to your computer, tablet, or the TV.
English has also adopted German words throughout time and, bingo, even without any special labeling, they have become a solid part of the American lingo: Therefore, a child may display “angst” (= anxiety), originally “being afraid or fearful” when the first day of “Kindergarten” (= children’s garden) draws near. In Germany this term describes “daycare/preschool” while in the United States it refers to “the first official school year before attending first grade.”
Just to casually point out – without permitting any “Schadenfreude” to get the upper hand – exclaiming that time-worn “Gesundheit” after a sneeze is no longer fashionable in Germany.
Considering that positive communication can greatly help us humans to get along, it might be wise to genuinely welcome new expressions to filter into and enrich one’s mother tongue.
The “Zeitgeist” of the current globalization may actually warrant an unbiased jump into this linguistic fray, since – at least for the German-speaking countries – this still oddly unfamiliar, and even a tad awkward vernacular of “Denglisch” is most likely here to stay.