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
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.