Spreading Germanisms in the USA/Germanismen in den USA verbreiten

Chris Haller from Stuttgart has been in the USA for five years and on his website www.spreadgermanisms.com he is campaigning for an increase in Germanisms in the English language.

There are a number of German terms for which there are no useful English equivalents. Because of their usefulness and beauty, these terms called loan words have entered the English lexicon. While there are large amounts of useful and plenty more ridiculous English loan words in the German language, barely any made it the other way over the big pont.

When Chris Haller moved to the United States in 2004, he knew the obvious Kindergarten and Bratwurst and over the years discovered lesser known Germanisms like Kitsch, Doppelgänger or Schmutz. If only folks in the US would learn about them, he thought, and what about all the other fun German words? The ones daisy-chaining multiple Nouns to build fun words like Fussballgott?

I’m not sure what the purpose of this is: whether to take revenge on the English language for the excess of anglicisms in German, or whether to fill in these putative gaps in our ability to express things.

I’m separated from my OED at the moment or I would show that some of these actually started in British English, i.e. this side of ‘the big pond’.

Via Nürnberger Nachrichten.

Experten kratzen sich angesichts dieses Trends zu Germanismen den Kopf. Auch Stefan Brunner, Leiter der Sprachabteilung des Goethe-Instituts in Washington, hat keine Erklärung für das Phänomen gefunden. Ein Grund könnte in der Herkunft mancher US-Bürger liegen. Immerhin behaupten 17 Prozent von ihnen – also rund 50 Millionen -, deutsche Vorfahren zu haben. Und Deutsch rangiert nach Spanisch und Französisch an dritter Stelle der Popularitätsskala.

LATER NOTE: The Bremer Sprachblog has taken up this very article (Nürnberger Nachrichten) and had great fun with it.

11 thoughts on “Spreading Germanisms in the USA/Germanismen in den USA verbreiten

  1. Chris might do well to read US-‘English’ textbooks on psycho-analysis, psychiatry philosophy and ‘gestalt’ psychology. Many of them already noch read like straight translations from German into English and leave the reader with a distinct Weltanschauung of Mensch and Angst.

  2. Spending quite a bit of time in L.A. and NYC, my *feeling* (non scientific) is that many of the expressions in American English that sound German are borrowed from Yiddish (which in turn is related to German), like mentsh, shtum etc. I suspect that in many cases the words did not travel from High German to AE. But I may be wrong.

    • Michael: I agree with you on those. But I was thinking of some of those mentioned in the articles: Gesamtkunstwerk, Weltanschauung, for instance. I suppose Gesundheit was from the German immigrants – that is US, because the expression in BE is Bless you. I haven’t heard Schmutz myself. The newer ones like uber- compounds I have seen in British papers, but they probably came via the US. But what about ridiculous suggestions on the website such as Mauerbl

  3. Whilst trying to shake off the labels of shmuck, shlamiel and shmendrik, I am not referring to Yiddish colloquialisms and Jackie Mason’s New York stage jokery that is not fully understood by a London Palladium audience, but (pseudo-) scientific, psycho-therapy etc. writings in un-natural ‘English’ by German and Austrian emigres, also by Oxbridge/ Uppsala University/Goethe Institute London Nietzsche philosophers of non-European origin. Their utterances, written and spoken, float into the realms of the German-compound incomprehensible. I am referring to specific writers, some of whom I know personally and who shall perforce remain nameless.

  4. Frage an MM: Auf stern.de ([url]http://www.stern.de/kultur/buecher/man-spricht-deutsch-blitzkrieg-der-knaller-fuer-die-schlagzeilen-schlacht-1507222.html[/url])wird jetzt behauptet, “blitzkrieg” sei im Deutschen urspr

    • Anatol Stefanowitsch schreibt mir, dass er diese Geschichte schon in einem Kommentar zu seinem Blogeintrag im Juni dementiert hat. Ich glaube, ich habe es damals nicht gesehen. [url]http://www.iaas.uni-bremen.de/sprachblog/2009/06/19/sprachimperialistische-illusionen/#comment-4723[/url]
      In Kommentar 12 wird Karl-Heinz Frieser zitiert. Das Wort wurde schon 1935 in Deutschland benutzt, deutsche Emigranted brachten das Wort ins Ausland. Hitler sagte, es sei in Italien erfunden usw.
      Jetzt muss man sich fragen: wo hat der Stern die Informationen her (von AJP Taylor?), und wieso wird behauptet “Entz

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