Whilst analysing or comparing one’s own language with a foreign language, many people find it helpful to look for words that are well-known or similar to their own language. This stems from the fact that most languages have evolved from Latin. Latin is the mother of almost all languages worldwide, so it is not surprising that it has left marks on individual words. This article does not deal with Latin roots in English, but with German words applied in English.
It is surprising how many German words are known and used in foreign languages (not only in English), and there are various reasons that other languages adopt them. One such reason might be that in a particular language there is no true equivalent word and thus a translation is not possible. Another reason might be that the word is specific to the region where it is from and therefore expresses the original background meaning.
The following are some loan German words used in English. The list below is only a short summary of the most popular words.
Food & Drink
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On the other hand, sometimes it also happens that a language uses words from a foreign language, but misunderstands the correct meaning, as the following examples show.
“English” words in German
The term Bodybag is used in German language for describing a bag carried close to the body. A small difference to the English meaning of body bag, which is a bag used for dead bodies. Another term, Handy, is used to mean a cell phone by German people, who are unaware that it does not mean the same in English. The last example is the term Mobbing which in German expresses bullying. For a longer list of anglicisms in German click here. The amount may surprise you!
All together it has to be said that is important to know the exact meaning of a word before using a foreign term. However, the best option is to use words from one’s own language (if possible) and to try not to use foreign language words, even if the correct meaning is not known.
Do you know any other German words used in English? Or can you add anything to what I have mentioned here… I am looking forward to reading your comments! Alternitavely, if you’re looking for more information about our German language services then click here.
It’s no secret that Ed Sheeran wrote his latest album while travelling the world and soaking up different cultures and styles of music. But he went further than that. He also isn’t afraid to delve into the world of languages either. What’s most impressive is his commitment to getting the foreign lyrics and their pronunciation spot on, and he has previously said he would only sing in other languages if he could do it properly.
However, it’s not just on his latest album that he tries his hand at other languages, but in songs recorded before and after too. Take a look below!
Twi – “Boa Me” & “Bibia Be Ye Ye”
Last year Ed teamed up with Highlife and Afrobeats artist Fuse ODG to create a new track called “Boa Me”, where Sheeran sings the entire chorus in flawless Twi – a dialect from Ghana. The song was actually written at Fuse ODG’s house in Ghana with his friends, and Ed has described it as “probably the most fun I’ve had writing a song”. The song peaked at #52 in the UK charts. While it didn’t reach the top 40, this upbeat track is definitely worth a listen!
This actually isn’t even the first time that the Twi language has featured on an Ed Sheeran track! The song/lyrics “Bibia be ye ye” from the Deluxe version of his latest album ÷ (Divide), is also Twi, and means “all will be well”. Fuse ODG was also involved in the writing of this song which peaked at #18 on the UK chart.
Spanish – “Barcelona”
“Barcelona” is another song which appears on the Deluxe version of ÷ (Divide), and this time Ed takes on Spanish at the end of the song which includes the following lyrics:
Mi niña, te amo mi cariño
Sí tú, te adoro, señorita
Los otros, viva la vida
Siempre vida, Barcelona
In case you’re wondering, “Mamacita” roughly translates as “hot mama”!
This is another feel-good song which tries to incorporate the atmosphere in this amazing city. It charted at #12 in the UK charts.
Italian – Perfect Symphony
Spanish isn’t the only language from mainland Europe that Ed sings in! After the incredible success of “Perfect” (initially debuting at #4, before climbing to #3), and then “Perfect Duet” with Beyoncé which propelled the song to #1 in the charts, Sheeran collaborated with Italian legend Andrea Bocelli to create a more operatic version, known as “Perfect Symphony”. Bocelli translated part of the song into Italian but it’s not just him who sings the Italian, with Ed also joining in. Incidentally this is also the first song in which Ed collaborated with his brother Matthew, himself a classical composer, and whose string section appears on both this and the original version.
Gaelic – Thinking Out Loud
Ed is clearly in touch with his Irish roots, spending plenty of time across the Irish sea with his family, having some tattoos in Gaelic, and also musically with two Irish-influenced songs “Galway Girl” and “Nancy Mulligan” appearing on ÷. But he went even further back in 2015 by recording a Gaelic translation of one of his biggest hits “Thinking Out Loud”. It was recorded especially to be included on the album CEOL 2016, which was that year’s album from Conradh na Gaeilge (an organisation promoting the Irish language) and their Irish-language radio station Raidió Rí Rá, produced for “Irish week” (Seachtain na Gaeilge), featuring Gaelic tracks from the best Ireland has to offer.
The whole song is translated into, and sung in Gaelic, which I think we’ll all agree is pretty impressive! I’ll leave it up to native Gaelic speakers to let us know how good his pronunciation is, but I’m sure, as with the other songs, he wouldn’t have released it if he wasn’t able to get it right, as is his great professionalism and his respect for other languages and cultures.
Keep up the great work Ed!
Today is one of the best day of the year: the international French Fries Day. But let’s find out something about most people’s favourite guilty pleasure.
Apparently, French fries are not French at all. Their origin can be tracked back to Belgium, where potatoes were allegedly being fried in the late-1600s. The legend says that poor villagers in Meuse Valley used to eat small fried fish they caught in the river but, as the river would freeze during winter, they had to find an alternative source of food. When the potato was introduced in the continent, the villagers began preparing the root plant in the same way they used to treat the fish: slicing and frying it. And this is how the earliest “French” fries were born.
So, how come they’re called FRENCH fries? It seems that it’s Americans’ fault. When American soldiers were stationed in Belgium during World War I they were introduced to the fried goodness and, as the official language spoken by the Belgian army was French, they started calling it “French fries”. As most misunderstandings in history, once the name was spread there was no way to correct it. And we still call them “French” after centuries, and will probably keep on doing so for quite a while.
But is this a mistake that only English speakers make? Let’s have a look on how everybody’s favourite side dish is called in different countries.
France/Belgium (French): les pommes frites / les frites
Belgium (Dutch): friet/fritten
China: 薯条 shu tiao (potato stripe or stick)
Czech Republic: hranolky (little prisms)
Finland: ranskalaiset perunat (French potatoes) or ranskalaiset (French)
Germany: Pommes / pommesfrites
Greece: τηγανιτές πατάτες tiganites patates
Italy: patatine fritte
Japan: フライドポテト furaido poteto (Fried potatoes)
Korea: 감자 튀김 Gamja twigim
Latin America: papas fritas
Columbia/Mexico: papas a la francesa
Portugal: batatas fritas
Romania: (Belgian) cartofi prajiti
Russia: картофелем фри kartofel’ fri
Sweden: franske kartofler (French potatoes)
The Netherlands (Dutch): patat frites / Vlaamse friet (Flemish fries)
Iceland, the land of ice and fire, counted 350,710 inhabitants in 2016. The crazy thing is that, last summer, Iceland hosted 2 million tourists. Why are there so many people willing to visit this Nordic island? Here are some pieces of information that might interest you.
Iceland has a very rich culture and a breath-taking scenery which appeals to any travel lovers. If you decide to go, expect to remain speechless all along. You’ll see mountains, glaciers (Europe’s largest glacier is in Iceland), rivers, waterfalls, craters, volcanoes, geysers, geothermal areas, hot springs, lagoons, icebergs, black sand beaches and more. What is crazy about visiting Iceland in summer time is that the sky remains bright all-night long. Indeed, the sun rises at around 3am and sets a little bit before midnight, allowing only a few hours of half-darkness. Let’s just say that it can be a bit disturbing… However, if you decide to go in winter time, you are more likely to see amazing northern lights and the land covered with a thick coat of snow. Two completely different worlds!
Iceland’s traditional dishes include lamb, fish and skyr (a yoghurt-like cheese).
If you love animals, you can expect to see sheep and Icelandic horses all around the country. Watch the sheep while driving, they are free! Also, Iceland’s only native mammal is the Arctic Fox.
Sport is an important part of Icelandic culture. The main traditional sport in Iceland is Glíma, a form of wrestling. Popular sports are handball, basketball and football. The Icelandic national football team qualified for the 2016 UEFA European football championship for the first time. Thus the 2018 FIFA World Cup is very important to Icelanders (I’ve heard 98% of Icelanders watched the games of their national team). Iceland has excellent conditions for skiing, fishing, snowboarding, ice climbing, rock climbing and hiking. Iceland is also one of the leading countries in ocean rowing, Icelandic rower Fiann Paul became the fastest ocean rower. He has claimed 24 Guinness World Records in total for Iceland. Swimming is also popular in Iceland, as geothermally heated outdoor pools are widespread, and swimming courses are a mandatory at school.
I hope you’ve learned a lot by reading this article and that you are already booking your flight to Reykjavic! Besides, one thing that you have to experience at least once in your life is a relaxing moment in the stunning Blue Lagoon.