German and its many ‘Anglizismen’

© German the Movie

Is the German language disappearing? The Goethe Institut, a worldwide cultural association promoting the study of the German language, seems to think it is. In a recent campaign to work against this ‘disappearance’, they created an entertaining trailer for a movie yet to be filmed: ‘German – One word is not enough’. The trailer shows Hermann (a name only abundant among the older generation by now) whose friend Peter mysteriously disappears one day.  At the same time, the evil Lord Vakuum is busy robbing Germany of its language. Featuring a number of silly slapstick jokes, this trailer is not what one would normally expect from a serious institution such as the Goethe Institut. Nevertheless, it is a great way to come across some new German words and ‘Zungenbrecher’ (tongue twisters), which Hermann uses on his adventure to defeat Lord Vakuum.

Upon seeing this trailer, we started to think that, despite the slightly ridiculous story, they might actually have a point. Just think of the number of ‘Anglizismen’ (English words which have crept into the German language) now commonly used and understood among younger members of society. Here are some examples we’ve recently heard:

  • Das ist echt ein bisschen ‘random’ (That really is a bit random)
  • Der Typ ist total ‘crazy’ (That guy is just crazy)
  • Eine coole ‘Location’ (A cool location)
  • Das ist ziemlich ‘nice’ (That’s pretty nice)

And some examples where they have modified an English word by adding German prefixes or suffixes

  • Das habe ich ‘downgeloadet’ OR ‘gedownloadet’ (I downloaded that)
  • Ziemlich ‘abgespaced’ (Pretty spaced out)
  • Die haben den ‘gedisst’ (They were dissing him)

What would Goethe himself have thought about this? Either way, it’s an interesting testimony to ongoing language development and the effects of globalisation and the internet.