“Goethe’s Wet Dream“
Hi ihr lieben
and welcome back to our Advent Calendar, day number seven. And today I have something VERY special for you…
a Facebook post.
Hot damnnnnn, that’s lit!!!
Seriously though, I know it sounds underwhelming but I really wanted to share this one with you, because it’s a great showcase for what’s going on with the German language in certain areas at the moment.
So, if you’ve spent time in Germany or you consume German Youtube or trash TV you might have noticed that people are using quite a few English words. And no, I don’t mean Computer, Tablet or Fan. Heck no.
I mean stuff like this:
- “Nicer Burger, aber die Fries waren fail.”
- “Deine Parents sind obercringe”
- “Super freshe Dokus”
- “Maria und ich haben Quality Time gescheduled um mal wieder richtig als Couple zu connecten.”
Yes. People do say that. And even write it, in reviews or so. The grammar is still German, so verbs get their ge-form and adjectives get their endings, but they’re English. And it’s not only teenagers. If someone lives in a big city and works in branches like advertisement, design, marketing, banking or some start up, then it can get REALLY nasty.
And today, you can get an impression of how nasty :).
There’s a job app called Truffls, a start up no less, and they’re kind of collecting crazy example of Denglish and use it for their own advertising. They take one quote and add a little comment to it. The layout is basically the same the Duden uses.
They usually post it on Twitter, but there’s also a Facebook collection of them. It is unbelievable.
Make sure to also read the comment under it. It’s hilarious.
So… viel Spaß :)
EDIT: Apparently, you can’t click through all of them here, so you need to use the link below to get there. It’ll take you directly to the Facebook post.
Click here to see the full gallery on Facebook
“As ASAP as possible” is my favorite.
Now… of course it is possible that they made some of them up, but I can absolutely confirm that none of this is unbelievable.
People in co-working spaces in big cities do say stuff like this. I have heard it with my own ears.
What about you? Have you heard Germans talk like this before? How would it be for you as a native speaker of English if a German were to talk to you that way while being all serious and business-y?
Let me know your thoughts and experiences in the comments. Hope you enjoyed this one, have a great day and bis morgen.
Well well, I don’t have much experience but my native speakers colleagues told me that the English word is often better in technical speech. The tricky thing is… which article shall I use? For example, no one would say “Gerät” when speaking about electron devices (transistors). We just say “das Device”.
Meanwhile, my favourite German word (so far) is Datenverarbeitungsgerät
“better in technical speech”… wait, if we’re talking about IT stuff then yes, the English word is pretty much natural.
As for the article … that’s a good question. I think you’d indeed first go with the article of the translation (if there is one). CPU for instance is “die” because “u” stands for “unit” which is “die Einheit” in German.
I worked in a digital marketing company for two years as a copy writer and content writer and I heard horrible, horrible English marketing jargon that made me cringe. It sounds awful – seriously, a lot of these media types use it to sound more intelligent, but then what they have said is a bunch of nonsense that nobody (clients included) understand. I had to wade through this crap (in English, of course) and make is sound sensible. I hated it in English and I hate it in German. I agree with this statement from @berlingrabers:
“It’s really weird for me as a native speaker; on the one hand, that’s not my world to begin with, so even when people talk this way in English, it tends to sound like gibberish (and I suspect a lot of it really is).”
Because IT IS gibberish. It communicates NOTHING but the fact that the person using it has zero command of proper English and is a marketing twat.
What really surprised me after two years was that it made communication to clients MORE difficult. It made things less clear. How does one sell anything when the client is sitting at the meeting scratching his head after your pitch?
This was amusing, but frustrating. I hate sounding like a purist, but I will avoid this ‘Denglish’ stuff like the plague. It doesn’t help me learn German, in fact, it detracts from it, because you get confused as to what you should use in this ‘Denglish’.
It was interesting to see this though – from a linguistic perspective, I really appreciate this post ☺️
Hahaha… you clearly had a cringe-athon at that job :).
I kind of sort of would actually enjoy working in an environment like that for a couple of months, just for the fun of it.
I actually pick up stuff quickly (like accents for instance) so I’m wondering… maybe I’d get more Denglish learnings that I’d like.
Long story short. My wife and I decided to try ski jumping at Lake Placid. Very scary when you actually get up there (15 m.). She chickened out. Later that day we met a expat couple from Switzerland, and I was excited to practice my German with them. Ugh. The best I could do was: …”und dann klettert sie hoch, schaut nach unten, und ist komplett ausgechickent”. They couldn’t stop laughing!
:). Almost perfect!! Aber es müsste “hat ausgechickent” sein.
This has been going on for a long time. As a matter of fact, my 26 year old German niece argued with me that a “ pullover“ was a German word. I said it was English. I asked her: are “over“ and “ pull “ German words? She thought for a moment, then realized my point.
Was Goethe really into this sort of thing, or would he have hated it? My guess would have been that a classical writer would hate such sloppy modern language, but the title’s use of “wet dream” implies that he would have absolutely loved it! Orrr did you mean Goethe’s worst nightmare? :)
Oh, I thought it’s called wet dream because of tears… hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm
Uh, no. Pick another bodily fluid…
Aha! Das soll “Goethe dreht sich/windet in seinem Grab” (It would make Goethe turn in his grave/Goethe is writhing in his grave).
A Wet Dream has nothing to do with tears, completely different body fluid. Can only happen to a living person in their sleep.
Other stuff can make corpses writhe in their grave or turn in their grave. Loud noises can wake them from the dead.
I thought “Goethe’s wet dream” referred to him being one to ADOPT new language usw.
Assuming makes an ASS out of U and ME. Get it, ass-u-me = assume.
Hmmm… I thought you knew I knew :). The title was basically just me being ironic. I wasn’t even clever enough for the whole Goethe was quite progressive thing :D.
I thought you knew, was surprised when your replies to some of the comments made it look like you didn’t know. Now I know you knew and you know that I knew that you knew. Say THAT 10 times fast…
I work for a bank in the UK and we are plagued by a lot of these horrible examples of ‘management speak’ just as much. There is really no good reason to use made up words like “learnings” at all. I am always highly suspicious of any manager who uses a lot of these nonsense phrases. But they grow like weeds throughout corporate life, irrespective of language.
I do work with colleagues in our German office quite frequently (although mostly in English as it’s the standard company language, and my German isn’t good enough to have any sort of business discussion) and I haven’t heard them utter this kind of nonsense very often at all.
Ich wohne schon vor ein paar Jahren in Frankfurt und muss sagen die Leute reden wirklich so. Manchmal überlege ich mir, wozu habe ich eigentlich so viele Vokabeln auf Deutsch gelernt, wo ich einfach alles auf Englisch sagen könnte und mittlerweile “cool” klingen?
Frankfurt am Main, meinst du, oder :)? Mit den ganzen Banken.
In welcher Branche bist du denn, dass du solche Leute triffst? Oder studierst du? Oder machen das “normale” Leute in der WG?
Auf Denglisch heißt Frankfurt a. Main “Mainhatten. (mit den ganzen Banken)
Das doofste D- Wort für mich ist “Handy” ! (Deutsches Wort für cell phone)
Hat sonst jemand einen Vorschlag??
Ich persönlich finde “learnings” richtig schlimm.
Oh, es ist übrigens “seit ein paar Jahren”, wenn du noch da wohnst.
Hi Emanuel, same here in Italy. My wife works for an american company and everybody’s so wound up that they’re mixing english with italian in such an annoying way. Like you often hear “schedulato” (gescheduled) or “allineato” (allined, complying), but what I find most annoying is literary translation from English to Italian, the worst being “compagnia” when they talk about customers/competitors, which is literally the translation of “company” but meant as a company of people you have fun with, definitely not a firm, an industry, whatever!
Oh wow, I didn’t expect that in Italy. I thought Italians were too fond of their language for that.
This makes me sad. I had such high hopes for German and I love learning the language.
I live in France and as a native English speaker, I can’t help but roll my eyes any time I hear or read a misused English word or concept that exists in French or German in this case, just to be hype/trendy. What I’ve also noticed is that these people who insist on using English words in French don’t even master their native tongue or English for the matter.
In comparison to French we are REALLY REALLY bad with this. I think the French are on average much more preservative about their language.
Do they do it, too? To what extend? Do you have an example maybe?
As an earlier post said, AE has adopted foreign language words. My favourite example of the confusion it can cause is when my partner asked a French shopkeeper for some bouillon (Brühe, broth in AE). She apologised for not knowing the French for bouillon!
The French do have the Académie Française, composed in part of old preservationists of the French language and therefore are not as advanced as French-Canadians who accept, adapt, and transform English words into French ones. The French in France are terrible at learning foreign languages. Any French person I know always says, if you go to Germany, it’s no big deal if you don’t speak German ! They speak English ! An example of misused English words or concepts would be found in the start up community (that you’ve adressed in your post), concept stores that are in gentrified neighborhoods, and women’s publications that focus on fashion or beauty. In my opinion, they are meant to exclude people of different origins or social status. I can’t remember any specifically as I’ve forgotten them out of anger.
I live in New Ulm, Minnesota, USA, a city that prides itself for its German heritage. Our people have been doing this for many years – here we call it Ulmer Deutsch. An example – at the baseball game – “Schlagen mir ein homer!”
Oh wow, can you understand some German then or is it really just a few words?
Oops – Germenglisch
Ja, stimmt – im Wohnhaus daheim wurde gemeint. Kann etwas unangenehm warden, wenn man dringend aufs Klo gehen müß!
Ist es schon besetzt oder nicht??????? – O Weh!
Für einen als Gast im Hause ein bißchen peinlich!
Eine kleine Bermerkung:
In Deuschland sind Zimmertüren fast am Tag immer zu.
Bei uns hier in den USA meistens offen.
Hat jemand ausser mir das auch bemerkt? Vielleicht ein Mentalitätsunterschied???
Hier ist ein lustiges Lied mit Text. Drinnen seht Türen sind zu Schliießen da!
Sowas heißt ein Ohrwurm! “catchy”
Moment, du meinst Wohnungstü, oder? Das ist mir auch aufgefallen, als ich in Greensboro war. Niemand schließt ab. Vielleicht ist das in kleinen Dörfern in Deutschland auch so, aber in der Stadt definitiv nicht.
Du meinst sicher Greenboro NC ? Was denkst Du über die südliche Mundart bei uns? War es teilweise schwer für Dich?
Hoffentlich hat es da Dir gut gefallen! Es ist nicht als ein begehrtes Reiseziel bekannt.
You best be commin back now – hear?
Der Akzent war garnicht so stark :). Ich war da wegen Liebe, ein halbes Jahr. Es war sehr sehr sher langweilig, aber ja… ich komme irgendwann zurück in die USA. Ich liebe das Land. Soooo viel Raum…
Die Deutschen use whom as if it’s really part of the language.
I was amused by the as ASAP as possible. Can it get any ASAP’er than that?
Hahaha… VERY good question :)
Denglish und ich haben eine komplizierte Beziehung. Manchmal muss ich lachen, weil es lustig ist. Manchmal begehe ich auch Denglish aufgrund Humors. Dabei rolle ich oft die Augen, wenn ich Denglish höre, und denke, “seriously, Alter?” Andererseits finde ich es nervend, weil es unnötig verwirrend ist. Es kommt häufig vor, dass ich während eines Gespräches ein Wort nicht verstehe und beim Nachfragen herausfinde, dass das betreffende Wort Englisch gewesen sei. Als englischer Muttersprachler war es für mich am Anfang sehr schwierig, zwischen mit deutschem Akzent ausgesprochenen englischen Wörtern und von mir noch nicht bekannten deutschen Wörtern, zu unterscheiden. Also würde ich sagen, dass gesprochenes Deutsch für nicht Muttersprachler viel klarer ist, wenn man auf Denglish verzichtet.
Oh, das kenn ich, das ist mir auch schon passiert. Mit einem Englischen Wort von einem der gerade Deutsch spricht und und andersrum.
LOL LOL LOL LOL
“As ASAP as possible” is really good, no one says that, that’s serious overkill, I mean with ASAP already standing for “as soon as possible”, why the need to add another “as possible”?
Now on a totally unrelated note, could you possible explain what does “ihr lieben” mean and how it is used? I’m sure you’ve had this question before, but I haven’t read the eplanation and to my foreign brain it seems like you’re saying “your (own) dears”. Is it idiomatic?
It’s a great example of RAS Syndrome (Redundant Acronym Syndrome Syndrome). Like “Automatic Teller Machine Machine” and “Personal Identification Number Number”.
See my earlier comment to your post.
Of course there would be a name for it :).
We’ve also got it in loanwords/phrases from other languages: “Please RSVP,” or “the hoi polloi.”
Wow, this is based on French? Are people typically aware of that?
I’m not sure how common it is to know that it stands for “répondez s’il vous plaît” (and that the SVP part means “please”) – I certainly learned it either in school or somewhere along the way. But at this point, I’d say that to most (American) English speakers, “RSVP” is more or less a verb meaning “respond to an invitation.”
“ihr lieben” is a pretty common, informal way to address several people at once. You can do it when giving a speech at the company Christmas party as well as when you say Good Bye to your family after Christmas. It’s pretty much “you guys”, just more affectionate sounding. And not as gendered :)
For clarification, it’s the nominative “ihr” – 2nd person plural pronoun, not a possessive form of “sie.” So it’s “you dears” or, for the benefit of a certain sector of potential readers, “y’all dears.”
Thanks for delivering! Was starting to think we were going to get a time-warp Türchen! Can’t start the day ohne the Türchen.
Germans do talk this way, but EVERYBODY in the world does – it’s like you yourself wrote, “Language is the most democratic thing in the world” – users shape it. With internet it’s happening even faster because English is so widely spoken and English is sorta In-Your-Face in a way other languages are not. Even languages like Finnish, that attempt to adopt their own term instead of using English ones, have trouble stopping the anglicisms.
AE-speakers use “Schadenfreude” as well as “smörgåsbord” and even “beaucoup” (pronounced Bookoo) – among many others – borrowing words is the best way to show acceptance and appreciation. What is it they say? Coping is the best form of flattery, or something like that.
When there is an equally descriptive word in the target language, I find using the English one, perhaps a bit pretto (a pretentious way to say “pretentious”) but usually the English words are quite on target. Kinda like “Schadenfreude” is auf Deutsch.
What does, however irritate me, is when foreign terms are used wrongly in another language. People who say, “Nemas Problemas” when there is no “s-plural” in the slavic languages. It is “Nema Problema”. Or “Happy Hours”. No matter how many hours the drinks are cheap, it’s still called “Happy Hour”. This being said, I AM trying to douse the irritation – each group of users forms the term to suit their own language and who am I to say how English words feel in a German, Swedish or Finnish mouth? But sometimes grey matter cannot steer that knee-jerk reaction – I am, however working on it.
At risk of waxing all philosophical, I can say that the only real argument I have against peppering our speech with foreign words is that it very often alienates the part of society that isn’t familiar with foreign terms. Where do we draw the line between pulling others up to our level and excluding those that haven’t reached our level? But that is a Thema for a dimly lit bar and a bottle of Rotwein.
“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”. I love that saying.
Aoind. You know everything. My offer for marriage extends to you as well – intelligence is the sexiest attribute. That, and nice shoes.
That’s a very flattering proposal, thank you. I am all about the shoes. Right now I am wearing highly polished black tassel loafers.
It’s a deal! I’m yours!
Thomas and Maria finally became a reality. I am so happy!! Now I can stop blogging about them.
Damn it!!! Why am I working on my abs and glutes then???
Ha… yeah, there’s an element of wanting to sound cool in it. It’s funny sometimes because the very same people tend to complain about the US and their policy and so on and don’t realize that they’re pretty big fan boys.
I can basically get on board with this – I don’t have a problem with all the borrowing, and it’s just part of the way language works, of course.
What tends to get on my nerves (aside from misuse, although there’s plenty of that in English borrowings too) is using a foreign loanword or -phrase for something that there’s no particular reason for. With all the internet and tech stuff, it makes an awful lot of sense. “Googeln” and “liken” and “posten” and all that sort of thing comes from a realm that just didn’t exist a couple of generations ago, and you really would have to do a lot of contriving to come up with genuinely German equivalents.
To me, though, you have to wonder about, say, “das Meeting”. Like, have Germans not had companies and bureaucracies and all of this for decades and centuries and needed words to describe what they do? Is “Treffen” or “Gespräch” or whatever really insufficient to capture the mystical essence of “meeting”? (Which actually is the case for, say “Schadenfreude” – you just can’t translate it in a word or two.)
At the same time, I’ve been in quite a few expat settings where, because we all speak German routinely, we end up speaking our own Denglisch (or is it… Eutsch? Engleutsch?), because it really is surprising how many things you discover are easier to say or express in German, or that you find occurring to you more quickly in your second language.
“Eutsch”… I never thought about that one, but it’s great. Because it sounds like outch :).
“how many things you discover are easier to say or express in German”
As for “Meeting” … that is an interesting choice because that one to me kind of has arrived. Like… I wouldn’t know what to call it otherwise. A “Treffen” does NOT invoke the same association, and neither does “Gespräch”. Of course you’re right that German had Meetings before they had Meetings but I don’t know what they’d call it.
The thing with these loanwords is that German is very quick to borrow them AND as soon as they start becoming mainstream assign a specific meaning to it the German counterpart then stops covering.
One example is “fresh”.
In the ARD Mediathek I once read “freshe Dokus”… that’s when I knew that “fresh” is there to stay. And you can ONLY use it in a metaphorical sense of “cool, hip”. “frisch” on the other hand would sound totally out place there and I can’t think of another German word that would convey the same meaning as “fresh” in that context.
In comparison to pretty much all languages I have ever started learning, German tends to have several translation options that are clearly distinguished while the other language has one to catch all meanings.
So we basically continue growing the dictionary.
Step one: import a word that you have a perfectly fine equivalent for
Step two: wait, until the difference in tone and register starts changing into a difference of context
Step three: have both words side by side, but use them in different contexts
Step four (hundreds of years later):
Make language learners suffer because you have two different words for “fresh”
Yeah, but which came first, the chicken or the egg? What I mean is: were there no “meetings” in Deutschland before, only Gespräch and Treffen and when the term “Meetings” began to be used, Gespräch and Treffen morphed into a third form, ein Meeting that doesn’t really fit into it’s Gespräch nor it’s Treffen clothes.
This being said, of course, without being really 100% sure on the nuance between them.
Actually, it just dawned on me that the word might have been “Besprechung” :).
Re: things being easier to say or express in German – yes, really. At the very least, if you speak German a lot, you just get used to saying a lot of common, normal things in German, and it starts to take more effort to remember how to phrase them in English. It’s not unusual for me to have to stop myself from asking my kids, “Did that make fun?” instead of “Was that fun?” because of “Spaß machen.”
Then there are situations and terms that just belong to life in Germany. We’ve got small kids; they have to wear Matschhosen (eigentlich Regenhosen, I guess?) pretty regularly. What the heck are those called in English? Dict.cc gives me “rain pants/trousers” – okay, sure, but that’s just not part of life in Texas. There’s plenty of stuff like that.
Then there are the famous words you just can’t really quite translate (like “Schadenfreude”), or that don’t feel like they correspond 100% to the usual translation. You usually see “gemütlich” rendered “cozy,” which isn’t wrong per se… but it doesn’t feel like it quite covers the meaning or range of meanings. So you just tend to use the German word.
Do your relatives and close friends back in the US tell you that you sound German :)? I remember when I came back from the States I was accused of having an americanized English, purely based on my prosody :).
Nobody has ever commented that I sound German, though that might just be because people back home don’t know what Germans sound like (I mean, beyond the accent). I think once you’re back in your native setting, stuff comes back fairly quickly.
Last time I was back in the States after three years in Germany, I felt like I was way more talkative than I used to be. I think it was just so different to be able to talk to anybody and everybody without having to think about grammar or how to say things that I just wouldn’t shut up.
I’ve heard some of this for sure. I have a bit more contact to the under-30 crowd here than I did in Berlin, weirdly enough, and while I don’t know a ton of people in the whole business/marketing/advertising sector, there is a ton of “Neudeutsch” floating around.
It’s really weird for me as a native speaker; on the one hand, that’s not my world to begin with, so even when people talk this way in English, it tends to sound like gibberish (and I suspect a lot of it really is). With Germans, I feel like there’s a lot of moments where I just think: Really? German doesn’t have a word for that?
It’s frustrating, too, because – along the lines of my comment on the “wegen” post – I want to figure out how to say stuff in German, and I don’t like the feeling that I can throw in an English word or phrase if I don’t know the German one. A lot of the time, that actually would work, but then you feel like you’re just being lazy (which you kind of are).
It’s similar to the struggle earlier in the language-learning process (around A2-B1), where if you’re Anglophone, people just switch to English as soon as you hesitate about how to say something or even look slightly confused.
The thing that makes it harder is that it’s not like you can just use any English word. I think there’s a somewhat clear list of English words that are used and if you don’t follow that code, people who do use Denglish will notice.
This is just speculation though. Maybe you can just gradually shift the conversation from German to English by adding more and more English words :).
Recently, I was hate- following a “grow your personality and your business ” on Instagram (long story, I am not really interested in it). And they do talk like that, too. I was a bit shocked.
I do always think of the story (maybe I’ve told it on here somewhere before) of American friends of mine who moved to Berlin and started their son in Kita at about 4 years old. One day he came home full of excitement and told them, “I found out how to say ‘happy birthday’ in German!”
So they asked him how you say it.
And, full of pride, he answered: “Häppy Börssdeh!”