Word of the Day: Denglish

A sign found in Bavaria outside a carwash/petrol station… I understand it, but is it English and why?!

Denglish: noun (not in the dictionary!)

  • a mixture of the German word Deutsch and English, describing the use of English vocabulary in the German language. German and English words may be combined to form a new “German” word, or English words may be used for German terms with a different meaning to the original.
  • German: “Handy” = a mobile/cell phone
  • English: “handy”(adj) = convenient, at hand

With the Internet, new technologies, and wider travel, German has gradually picked up more and more of these words. I am sometimes confused when English/Denglish is used in a (for me) new context, or when it is used incorrectly.

Here are a couple of funny ones:

  • My German friend says she’s going to an Oldtimer meeting. (!?) “Oldtimer” in German is a vintage car! (In English an oldtimer is usually an old man, or someone who has a lot of knowledge because they’ve been doing something for a very long time.)
  • The models were at a shooting….. they mean a photo-shoot!
  • A bag carried crosswise close to the body is called a “body bag” here… oh dear. I don’t think that will come over well in England, where a body bag is a bag in which a body is put!

There are, however, a couple that have been used so often that they are finding their way back into English with a new meaning….

  • The term Wellness for spa treatments has been in use for about 20 years here. Recently I saw it in the UK for the first time.
  • Public Viewing has become THE word for watching sports events (and concerts, royal weddings, etc!) outside  on a giant screen put up in a park or public area. In the UK this was originally called a “big screen”, but the expression has caught on!

Let me know if you’ve heard of other amusing Denglish words!

By the way, “download” along with many other English verbs, has been Germanised by adding the typical German verb ending “en”; downloaden, chatten, booten, bouncen, surfen, piercen, mailen, recyclen, updaten, googeln… The list goes on!