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The Dachshund (listen to the English pronunciation)

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Did I hear you right?

Would you express angst or schadenfreude if your colleague had a poltergeist at home making everything kaput? Or maybe your dachshund has escaped to the delicatessen and consumed all the strudel, schnitzel and schnapps? Or perhaps the mittelstand in the hinterland is producing the most wunderbar kitschy kunst whilst secretly planning a putsch?!

You would be amazed at just how much German words there are in English! They are officially called “loan words” but there’s nothing temporary about them. They are widely used and firmly embedded in the language. Many were brought to the USA by German speaking immigrants during the 19th and 20th centuries and they often described important aspects of people’s lives and cultures: food, drink, music and traditions ..... hamburger, wienerwurst, pils, pretzel, stollen, waltz, octoberfest, yodel, edelweiss, alphorn. These words have stuck and are still used today, although spellings have been altered, the pronunciation is anglicised and there are no capital letters. Of course not every American realises that “Fahrvergnügen” means “driving pleasure,” but all know that Volkswagen means “people’s car.”

Other words, used in both British and American English, have a more sinister history dating back to World War II. For example, the word “flak” (also flack) comes from the German, Fl(ieger)a(bwehr)k(anone), or anti-aircraft gun. If someone says they are “getting a lot of flak,” it means they are receiving a great deal of negative criticism. The word “blitz” means any sudden attack, concerted effort or intensive campaign – for example, an advertising blitz; a drink-driving blitz. And in American football, it is used to describe a rush by defenders to tackle the opposing quarterback before he can get rid of the ball.

Rucksack, wunderkind, jugend style, kindergarten, doppelganger, leitmotif, zeitgeist, autobahn, nosh (the Yiddish German dialect of the standard German “naschen”), dummkopf, coffee klatsch.... just to name a few more!

 So, hopefully this short review has sparked a feeling of wanderlust in you and you will succumb to the desire to go out and see the world! If you do, keep your ears open for familiar German words in international English!

 

Vocabulary

Note in English some German words are spelt differently, e.g. kaput with only one “t”; delicatessen with a “c”; doppelganger without umlaut “ä”.

Did I hear you right? - Hab ich richtig gehört?

The dachshund – Dackel

to consume – essen, konsumieren

loan words (to loan) – Lehnwörter (ausleihen)

temporary – zeitgenössisch

to be firmly embedded in – fest eingebettet in

the spellings have been altered – die Rechtschreibung hat sich geändert

pronunciation is anglicised – Betonung ist anglisiert (wird Englisch ausgesprochen)

capital letters – Großschreibung

sinister history – finstere/ düstere Geschichte

concerted effort – gemeinsame Aktion

a drink-driving blitz – geblitzt werden mit Alkohol am Steuer

a rush by defenders – Ansturm der Abwehrspieler

to tackle the opposing quarterback – den gegnerischen Quarterback überwältigen

to get rid of sth. / s.o. – etwas/ jemanden loswerden

succumb to the desire – den Wunsch nachgehen

familiar German words – bekannte deutsche Wörter

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