- First taken by the British, it was lost next day to the Germans by the Americans who failed to retake it.
- That experience taught him how hard it will be to sell our expertise to the Swiss and Germans.
- We have got a lot to learn from the Americans, from the French, from the Germans in that respect.
- They speak a dialect of German called Pennsylvania Dutch at home.
- The official language is German but spoken language is an Alemannic dialect.
- From what I can tell, somebody went through and very literally translated words from German to English for the North American release.
adjectiveBack to top
- As for all the phenomena (to use the language of the German philosopher Immanuel Kant), they are no more deep than our own minds.
- A traditional old colony church service in the German language begins at 11 a.m.
- I met an exchange student who was studying for a languages degree at a German university.
Überbabes and spritzers
War inevitably influenced Germany's 20th-century contributions to our language, but German has given us many other terms, including some that handily fill in where there is no English equivalent.
TAKE dogs, for example. The poodle is now considered to be a cute, pampered little breed of dog, but it was bred as a hunting dog to retrieve waterfowl shot by its master, and its name is from German Pudelhund ‘puddle dog’. The dachshund is often called a ‘sausage dog’ because of its long body, but it is literally a ‘badger dog’—the breed was used to dig badgers out of their setts.
Since the 1920s we have criticized objects regarded as garish or sentimental as kitsch. At times this may be seen as a type of intellectual snobbery—in May 1961 The Times made a reference to ‘highbrows…who consider that the quality of the pure entertainment as such is generally kitsch or trash’. We might feel that this sort of thing was ersatz, or ‘artificial’, and add that it should be verboten, or ‘forbidden’.
But there is no avoiding the language of war. Flak or ‘anti-aircraft fire’, borrowed directly from German in the 1930s, is an abbreviation of Fliegerabwehrkanone, literally ‘aviator-defence-gun’. By the 1960s it was sufficiently established in English for the extended sense ‘strong criticism’ to develop.
In September 1940 blitz appeared in Daily Express reports of the heavy air raids made by the Luftwaffe (the German air force, a combination of ‘air’ and ‘weapon’) on London. Blitz is a shortening of blitzkrieg, which had been used the previous year to describe the German invasion of Poland. In German Blitzkrieg means ‘lightning war’. The metaphorical use ‘a sudden concerted effort to deal with something’ came up in the Guardian in 1960: ‘The women did only the bare essentials of housework during the week, with a “blitz” at weekends.’
A spritzer is a mixture of wine and soda water named after the German word for ‘a splash’. In the 1980s this drink was certainly in tune with the zeitgeist, or ‘spirit of the time’. Since the 1990s we have used the German word for ‘over’, über, to form words expressing the idea of the ultimate form of something—supermodels are sometimes referred to as überbabes.
German was the language used by the Austrian psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud (1856–1939) and his Swiss collaborator Carl Jung (1875–1961), and has given us several words for feelings. Angst, vague worry about the human condition or the world in general, entered English in the 1940s. Weltanschauung, from Welt ‘world’ and Anschauung ‘perception’, means ‘individual philosophy, world view’. Until the 1890s English had no word for the regrettably familiar feeling of pleasure derived from another person's misfortune, and so imported one from Germany—schadenfreude combines ‘harm’ and ‘joy’.
Words that rhyme with GermanBurman, firman, Herman, sermon, Sherman
What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?
Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.