You know more German than you think

You shouldn’t be daunted at embarking on German lessons. It’s likely you already know a lot more German than you think.

Our two languages are closely related, both being West Germanic languages, so you’ll find that many words are almost identical, if not in spelling, then in pronunciation. The terms Hand and Finger for example, are identical in German. Other words like Fisch (fish) and Maus (mouse) sound exactly like their English counterparts though their spelling has been anglicised.

Then you have all the German words which have passed into common usage in English. Words like doppelgänger, angst, abseil, blitz, kindergarten, kitsch, hamburger, Frankfurter, lager and the delightful German word Schadenfreude for our not-so-delightful habit of taking delight in others’ misfortune.

And it’s not just one-way traffic. Many English words have seeped into German, too, in a combination popularly known as Denglisch, though the phenomenon is far from popular with language purists. Nowhere is it more prevalent than in business and technology, with nouns like der Workshop, das Meeting, der Job, and the widespread verbs managen and downloaden. Despite there being perfectly serviceable German words for all of these things, they’re not seen as cool by most of the population who quip that Deutsch ist out.

You’ll notice that even when nouns are borrowed from English, they must still be capitalised in written German. Perhaps the spread of English words cannot be halted, but grammatical standards must be preserved!

One thought on “You know more German than you think

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *