German Loan Words In English

German Language Coach, loan wordsWith an increasingly interconnected world, where businesses are outsourced and partnerships are key to expanding businesses on a global scale, being fluent in English alone is not enough.

Even if you are not running your own business, chances are that you work in a dynamic, multi-cultural environment and with that comes issues like bonding well with co-workers of different nationalities and avoiding cross-cultural conflicts, among other things.

Besides, you yourself may be looking to move to another country to expand your career, experience living in another country, to join your family or study abroad.

Germany has ranked amongst the top ten places British citizens move to. Recent figures show that there are approximately 97,000 British expatriates living in Germany and another 39,000 pensioners calling Germany home, at least for some time.

Now, while the idea of a ‘global village’ is exciting, the reality is that if you are moving to Germany or working in Britain with a German multi-national firm, some intermediate knowledge of the language is imperative .Attending a German language course will get you up to speed in no time.

There are numerous words in the German language that simply do not have an equivalent direct English translation. As a result, what does the English language do, and for that matter all languages? We loan words. However, consider the consequences of poor direct translation without real knowledge? Miscommunication, odd looks and worse still, others feeling offended! With a good German language course or a private German tutor, these mistakes are easily avoidable.

Some loan words from the German language retain the same meaning such as the word hamburger, so it might be natural for some to assume that most loan words have the same meaning in English, which is furthest from the truth!

Below are some examples of German loan words, that despite the fact, English has embraced them into their own fold, mean something quite different in English!

Loan Word from German Meaning in German Meaning in English
die Angst Any kind of fear Feeling of anxiety, apprehension or insecurity
der Dachshund Ironically, although the word comes from the German language, it isn’t really used in Germany, having been replaced by the contraction “Dackel” in German These dogs (also sometimes called “Wiener dogs” in English because of their shape) are a breed of dogs named after the loan word “Dachshund”, which is outdated in the German language now.
kitsch Tacky, gaudy art or trinkets, probably purchased by people with bad taste or Art that is pretentious or overly sentimental. Items bought at art fairs and flea markets, sometimes cheap but can be quite expensive. Owners of kitschy objects often think the object is beautiful or endearing and creators of kitschy art may just sometimes be bad artists, but much kitsch is also created and collected in the full knowledge and enjoyment of its’ “kitschy-ness”.
über- This prefix entered English by analogy with Nietzsche’s coinage of the term “der Übermensch,” “the over-man,” a sort of superior being”, “over” or “above”. Today, it is used loosely, for example “James Bond’s latest übercar” or “Mercedes’ staggeringly expensive new übercar”.

In fact many teenagers even use it in the context where they find someone or something pathetic, for example “His song was uber lame.”

kaputt   Broken According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the word in English means 1. Utterly finished, defeated, or destroyed 2. unable to function 3.hopelessly outmoded

Before you think again that loan words mean the exact same thing in their native language, keep in mind these German loan words. The last thing you need to do is offend your foreign co-workers or worse still, your boss!

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