Use of English in German enterprises

The Financial Times (English edition) of 12 April 2005 has two articles on the use of English in German businesses: English is not always music to the ears, and The new lingua germanica.

They will be free online for a couple of days.

The first is about the over-use of English in the German corporate world. The second suggests that many Germans in business feel they cannot be upbeat and proactive in German, for a variety of historical reasons, so they use English.

bq. But he [Hubertus von Grünberg] adds: “Because of the rise of Nazism and its consequences, many Germans are shy about displaying patriotism and showing themselves to be in any way demagogic. As a result, a lot of Germans are scared about coming across as too strongly emotional. In a business setting this can mean German managers steer away from using any type of emotional language, when they want to try to motivate people. There is, therefore, a natural tendency to use English as an alternative.” …

bq. Mr Leibinger also sees the lingering effects of the wartime era, when many German words and phrases were “abused” for propaganda purposes. And later, says Mr Leibinger, words such as Freundschaft (German for friendship) were closely associated with the communist regime of former East Germany. In those times Freundschaft was used as a word of comradely greeting. The word is difficult for many ordinary Germans to use now, says Mr Leibinger, because it evokes memories of dictatorship.

There is discussion of the problems in that not all Germans understand English well, but not of the kind of English that is created in this way.

Thanks to Robin Bonthrone, via the pt mailing list at Yahoogroups.

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