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Denglish Pseudo-Anglicisms Posted by on Mar 23, 2015 in Intercultural, Language

Last time I posted about the ever-growing use of Denglish (or Denglisch, depending on whether you’re speaking German or English) on social media & websites. Since that post, by the way, I’ve been keeping an eye out for more Denglish on social media. Here’s an interesting one I saw recently: Danke für’s featuren!Thanks for the feature/for featuring me! Agh!

HimCake. HerCake? #denglish

HimCake. HerCake? #denglish. Him is short for Himbeer (raspberry). Photo by fiverlocker on flickr.com under CC BY-SA 2.0

Angie also left a comment on my last post mentioning a different form of Denglish:

The most striking example of Denglisch I’ve seen is using ‘s (commonly called Saxon-genitive) to indicate possession. Mein Vater’s Katze instead of Die Katze meines Vaters.”

Thanks for the comment, Angie! There seem to be many different types of Denglish, some focusing on grammar and some on language. One type of Denglish is known as a pseudo-anglicism: a fake English word. That is, an English word with a different meaning in German, or a word that looks English but has no meaning in English – but it does in German. Confused? Here are some examples:

Handymobile phone. This is probably the most famous example of Denglish in use! The only thing is that in English, the word handy is an adjective meaning practical or useful. So why Handy? I guess a Handy is quite handy. It could also be because you hold a mobile phone in your Hand.

“Angela Merkel thinks we're at work” flag makes the front page of German tabloid newspaper Bild, #DontTellMerkel

Photo by dullhunk on flickr.com under CC BY 2.0

WellnessLight exercise or relaxing activity designed to improve health and/or reduce stress. As you can tell, this is quite difficult to translate. English also uses the word wellness, and in English it refers to the state of being well. It’s rarely used in English. But in German it’s taken on a whole new meaning, with Wellnesscenters (‘wellness centres’) and Wellnessprogrammen (‘wellness programmes’) everywhere you look. Basically, if you see the word Wellness somewhere, you’re looking at a type of mini-spa.

Bodybag messenger bag. The English version could also be  ‘cross-body bag’, which might explain the name. This is an unfortunate translation, because a body bag in English refers to the bag you carry a corpse in…

Smoking smoking jacket. For some reason German uses one word, Smoking, to describe this type of jacket – even though the English word smoking (not capitalised) describes puffing on cigarettes.

Showmaster or TalkmasterTV show host/talk show host. Showmaster in English sounds like a very old-fashioned word for a compère at a 1920s cabaret bar. Talkmaster means nothing in English.

Streetworkersocial worker. More specifically, it means a social worker who works in underprivileged neighbourhoods. This is another unfortunate translation, because it is very similar to the English streetwalker, which is another word for a prostitute.

Trainingworking out. In English, saying you’re training implies you’ve got a race coming up, or that you’re engaged in some sort of competitive sport – eg. ‘I’m training for my boxing match’. In German, Training simply refers to any kind of workout. If you go to the gym, you’re doing Training.

CutterFilm editor. Yeah, some Germans’ are lucky enough to call themselves professional Cutters. This word obviously comes from the process of ‘cutting’ bits of film as you edit it. Unfortunately, in English Cutter sounds like the title of a gory horror movie. It might also be confused for pizza cutters and cookie cutters.

German pseudo-anglicisms can be confusing for German learners, so it’s best to familiarise yourself with them so you know what you’re dealing with. 🙂

What is your favourite German pseudo-anglicism? Are there any which really confuse you?

Constanze x

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About the Author: Constanze

Servus! I'm Constanze and I live in the UK. I'm half English and half German, and love writing about German language and culture. I also work as a group fitness instructor.


Comments:

  1. Barbara Wiseman:

    The smoking example brought back memories of a story my father told. He came to Britain in 1939 as part of the Kinder transport. He was in a train and was rather anxious as he was in a ‘smoking’ carriage and thought he may be told off or turned off the train for being under dressed.

    • Constanze:

      @Barbara Wiseman This is a great story, Barbara! It brought a smile to my face! Thank you for sharing. 😀 It just goes to show how confusing Denglish can be!

  2. Larissa:

    Ahaha I love how many of them have unfortunate translations into English! xx

    • Constanze:

      @Larissa I know hahaha xx

  3. Jenny:

    Some of my favorite pseudo anglicisms are the “oldtimer” for a classic car and the “sonnyboy” also sometimes misspelled as “sunnyboy” which have no equivalent translation in English.