Delving into Denglisch

English can be found everywhere in modern German. It varies depending on location, environment and person, but you regularly hear things like “sorry”, “happy”, and “das Meeting”. This is perfect, right – the more English that gets absorbed into German, the less vocabulary you need to be understood.

The catch, though, to this linguistic invasion, is the homegrown Denglisch which has to be reinterpreted. Here’s some more obscure examples…

Homestory
I could not work this one out from context. A Homestory is when a tabloid newspaper pays to have an exclusive photo session and home-visit with a celebrity and their family. They tell their story… from home. I guess it works?

Sprayer
If you want the English interpretation of this slang word, urban dictionary has some graphic examples. For some Germans, it refers to graffiti artists.

Youngtimer
I should have better things to do than to let this word infuriate me, but it’s such a bad name in such an elaborate way. Youngtimer is actually a descendent of the famous misappropriation OldtimerOldtimer has long meant a vintage car in Germany. Youngtimer means a less-vintage car, i.e. vehicles from the 80s rather than the 40s.

Fake rage aside, it is inevitable that languages evolve over time – who’s to say that it’s only native speakers who are allowed to influence the evolution? English is not a language that needs “protecting”.

I’ll continue to highlight great or baffling Denglisch when I see it!

Everything You Need to Start Learning a Language

It is almost the new year and if you are thinking about your language goals, here’s all the most useful languageuntangled tips for apps, podcasts, books and vocab.

Everything You Need
to Start Learning a Language

Resources

Game Plan

German Vocab

Spanish History for Dummies

I am one of those dummies. I know next to nothing about 20th century Spanish history but let me tell you why today is important – today is the anniversary of the Spanish constitution, which was ratified on 6th December 1978. Dictator Franco had died only three years previously. 

It is wild to me that both of the two languages I am studying, Spanish and German, were part of European dictatorships so recently, which only ended in 1978 and 1990 respectively. What is more crazy is that these democracies were rebuilt so peacefully – setting aside for a moment Spain’s attempted coup, which had no casualties.

This history occurred too recently to have made it into a British school syllabus, and my understanding has only developed in the last few years of trying to glean a little Spanish and German culture. (See my post on German reunification, also known as Die Wende).

I would be interested to know what others have learned about history and culture from their language journey!

A War By Two Names – Podcast Recommendations

Have you heard of the Falkland Islands? Or Las Malvinas? I am British and my awareness of this tiny territory next to Argentina has always been minimal. Among millenials – people I know – very little is known about the 1982 conflict, and the name ‘las Malvinas’ is known even less. In doing a little research, I found this video from The Guardian newspaper explaining why the military action was successful for the British, which is accompanied by scores of jingoistic and xenophobic comments.

I respect that the concern for the UK government at the time was that  British citizens – albeit a very small number of them – could potentially be forced into a dictatorship, but the issue is not black and white. It felt like a real wake-up call when the Duolingo podcast featured this story back in 2017, which examined one Argentinian soldier’s memory of the war. In what feels like a deliberately diplomatic stance, the episode covers an unlikely friendship between the young soldier and an English local.

In contrast, just last week NPR’s podcast Radio Ambulante put up an episode about two Argentinian soldiers’ experience of the war, which occurred six years into a dictatorship. (Available with transcripts in both Spanish and English). Their belief in victory was quickly shattered and hundreds of lives were lost.

I would be interested to learn more about the conflict, which is yet another example of how choosing to learn Spanish has challenged my assumptions about politics and history. Those depressing YouTube comments (yes, I know, don’t read YouTube comments) has strengthened my conviction to learn more, ask questions and look for more to the story.