16 English Words That Are Actually German (Part 2)

Posted on 30. Mar, 2015 by in Intercultural, Language

Here’s the second part of ’16 English words that are actually German’! Click here for the first 8 words.

Literal translation & German meaning: Double walker, or someone who looks identical to you
Meaning in English: Someone who looks exactly the same as you but is not related to you
Use in a sentence: I saw your doppelgänger in the street yesterday!
Extra fact: Like über becoming uber in English, doppelgänger becomes doppelganger in English due to the lack of umlauts in the English language

Literal translation & German meaning: Of Frankfurt (the German city), referring to a type of hot dog sausage
Meaning in English: A thin, long hot dog sausage
Use in a sentence: I need to get some buns for our frankfurters
Extra fact: This sausage is called a Frankfurter because it was created in Frankfurt!

Frankfurter Tor

Frankfurter Tor U-Bahn: ‘Frankfurt Gate’ Underground Station. Photo by Cynthia (23896959@N04) on Flickr.com

Literal translation & German meaning: Football
Meaning in English: A table football game played mostly in pubs
Use in a sentence: Fancy a game of fussball?
Extra fact: In Germany, table football has an English name: Kicker.

Literal translation & German meaning: Noisy spirit (from poltern: to make noise, and Geist: spirit/ghost)
Meaning in English: Type of ghost, specifically one who moves and throws things
Use in a sentence: We think we’ve got a poltergeist in our house.

Literal translation & German meaning: Neander valley (Thal = valley), primitive human species
Meaning in English: Primitive human species. It’s also used as an insult to describe a man who appears not to have evolved properly.
Use in a sentence: Look at Becky and her neanderthal of a boyfriend over there!
Extra fact: The Neander valley (Neanderthal) is a place in Germany. This is where the first remains of what we now know as the human neanderthal were found.

Literal translation & German meaning: Storehouse. Short for Lagerbier – storehouse beer.
Meaning in English: Type of beer
Use in a sentence: I’ll have a lager, please.
Extra fact: This word came to mean beer in English because it refers to a type of beer that is kept in a special storehouse for aging.

Ein guter "Tropfen"

Lagerbier. Photo by v230gh on flickr.com


Literal translation & German meaning: Wander desire (from wandern – to hike/trek, and Lust – desire/enthusiasm). In German use, the meaning of Wanderlust is quite true to its literal translation.
Meaning in English: A feeling that you’d like to travel and see new places
Use in a sentence: I’ve got real wanderlust after looking at your holiday pictures!

Literal translation & German meaning: Delicate food/delicate eating, meaning fine foods
English meaning: Place to shop for fine foods (often shortened to deli)
Use in a sentence: I’ll get some meat from the deli
Extra fact: The word delicatessen has an anglicised spelling. In German it is spelt Delikatessen. The German word Delikatessen is also a loanword from the French délicatesse.


Did any of these words surprise you? How often do you use these words, or see them used in English?

Click here for Part 1!

Bis später,

Constanze x

The Freud’scher Versprecher

Posted on 30. Mar, 2015 by in Language

Do you know situations in which you say something else than you meant to say? But what you said is actually what you think about it? This phenomenon is called the Freud’scher Versprecher, named after the father of the Psychoanalyse Sigmund Freud. He himself called the Versprecher a kind of Fehlleistung (parapraxis – “wrong performance”).

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Upps! Freud’scher Versprecher of the speaker of ex-Minister of Defense Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, who refused to admit that his dissertation was indeed a Plagiat (plagiarized).

The Freud’scher Versprecher is known in English as the Freudian Slip, and occurs maybe more often than we think. How do we know that what somebody said was a joke? Or was it serious? Or was it just a mistake? Or actual intention? In most cases, it is just a slip of the tongue, and it does not mean anything serious. However, it can mean something more. Especially where somebody suppresses a certain feeling or thought, which through the Freudian Slip comes to light.

Sigmund Freud (Image by Carla216 at Flickr.com)

It is a rather obscure idea, and hard to translate from German. So, here we go: A little translation lingo of the Freud’scher Versprecher.

Der Eröffnungssatz des lustlosen Vorsitzenden war”und jetzt schließe ich die Sitzung“. (The opening sentence of the listless chairman was “and now I close the session”.) In this example, you can clearly see: the real intention of the chairman is to get out of there as soon as possible. With his mind, he is already at the closing of the session, even though he was supposed to open it. Of course, this can be a mistake, but it might also just be his real intention!

Another one:

Wir sollten besser mit einander untergehen! (We should perish better together!) This example shows the translation problems such Freud’scher Versprecher can have. The sentence in this meaning does not make any sense in English. Let me explain.

Untergehen in German means “to perish”. And mit einander untergehen means “to perish together.” Umgehen, the word that should have been used in this context, means “to treat (sb.)”. In that sense, the sentence would mean “we should treat each other better!” Why is this a Freud’scher Versprecher? Imagine a case of two people after a fight. Reluctantly, one of them acquiesces to forgive and move on. Maybe, they should treat each other better – a nice thought, a nice first step! But the actual intention is that this relationship will end up in nothing – it had better perished.

Do you have examples of the Freud’scher Versprecher?

16 English Words That Are Actually German (Part 1)

Posted on 29. Mar, 2015 by in Intercultural, Language

Guten Tag!

Yes, it’s another Denglish post – but this time with a twist!

We might get slightly irritated with the way the English language is manipulating modern German (and the various ways in which it’s doing it), but before we get too irritated, let’s take a look at how many German words the English language uses! Some are more obvious than others, and some might even surprise you.

I’m splitting this into two parts as there are a lot of words to cover. Here’s part 1.

Literal translation & German meaning: Time spirit/the spirit of the times
Meaning in English: The spirit of the times.
Use in a sentence: He really captured the zeitgeist of the 1980s with his music.

Literal translation & German meaning: Fear
Meaning in English: The anxiety and inner turmoil often associated with a person’s teenage years (‘Teenage angst’)
Use in a sentence:Kanye West says he’s ‘full of angst’ like John Lennon

#FsA14 - Freiheit statt Angst 019

‘Freedom, not fear’ Photo by mw238 on flickr.com


Literal translation & German meaning: About, over or above (depending on context)
Meaning in English: Used to mean ‘extra’ or ‘extremely’. It is used in front of another word, for example über-cool.
Use in a sentence: That guy is an uber-geek.
Extra fact: The English version is often used without the Umlaut, so it becomes uber.

Literal translation & German meaning: Children garden, meaning a pre-school for children.
Meaning in English: A pre-school for children. Similar English words are playgroup and nursery.
Use in a sentence: I’m taking Sarah to kindergarten.

Literal translation & German meaning: Trash.
Meaning in English: Something tacky, gaudy or tasteless, mainly referring to music, jewellery, art, decor or fashion.
Use in a sentence: Her house is full of kitsch!
Extra fact: The adjective kitschy is used in English in place of the German kitschig.

Literal translation & German meaning: Whirlpool (in middle-high German), but refers to a type of pastry dessert.
Meaning in English: A German pastry dessert e.g. Apple strudel.
Use in a sentence: How about some apple strudel tonight?

Strudel Bar

Strudel Bar. Photo by slayeh on flickr.com


Literal translation & German meaning: Badger-dog, referring to a breed of dog
Meaning in English: The breed of dog also referred to colloquially as a sausage dog (though the English pronounce it ‘dashund’)
Use in a sentence: I’m taking my dachshund out for a walk

Literal translation & German meaning: Back sack, meaning backpack
Meaning in English: Backpack
Use in a sentence: I need to pack my rucksack for school
Extra fact: This is still used in English, though backpack is more common

Did any of these words surprise you? How often do you use these words, or see them used in English?

Check back soon for part 2!

Bis später,

Constanze x