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Mixture of German, English and French in one clothing store

Denglisch , also Denglish or Engleutsch , is a derogatory term from the German language maintenance . This uses the term to criticize the increased use of Anglicisms and sham Anglicisms in the German language.

The difference between Denglish and Anglicism

Anglicisms are foreign words originating from English (mostly nouns or substantiated verbs: comic, hobby, TV, e-mail, computer, laptop ) or phrases adopted from the English language (e.g. "making love" from to make love ). What anglicism is can be determined by objectively ascertainable criteria. The term "Anglicism" is neutral. "Denglisch" - a portmanteau word which is composed of " De lish" and "E nglish " composed - on the other hand is a derogatory term from the German-speaking care. What exactly the term includes cannot be determined according to scientific criteria, but follows from a subjective assessment of someone who describes a language phenomenon as “Denglisch”. The definitions of the term are correspondingly diverse:

Some speak of Denglisch above all when not only nouns, but also - albeit less often - English verbs and adjectives are taken over into the German language.


  • These are stylish pants.
  • The flight has been canceled .
  • I have downloaded or downloaded the program .

The objection here is that there is no reason not to say in these examples: these are chic, fashionable pants , the flight has been canceled and I have downloaded the program .

These examples show that German morphemes are added to the English words so that the loans fit into the correct German syntax. Denglish critics also consider this to be questionable. Linguistics, however, sees this as proof of the ongoing vitality of German grammatical structures: The English elements are not simply adopted with the English inflection - which in German would indeed be ungrammatic - but formally correctly adapted to the conditions of the German language. What is unusual here is the fact that adjectives and verbs are also borrowed, while the linguistic borrowing is otherwise almost exclusively limited to nouns, which in turn have to be incorporated into the German inflection system, cf. the email, the email s ; the server , the server.

Denglisch criticizes the construction of new expressions that are made up of English and German word components. The term Anglicism only applies to a limited extent to this; one speaks of hybrid formations. An example of this is Backshop - also Back Shop or Backstore -, formed from the German word backen and the English word shop or store (dt. Laden, business). It refers to bakeries or self-service bakery stores, but the word buck , which has the same sound, has the colloquial meaning "dollar" and the same spelled back in English has several meanings of its own, including "back", "back" and "back".

Development and Examples

Foreign and loan words

Since the English grammar differs from the German, there are often uncertainties with Anglicisms regarding the inflection rules and the gender of the word (see also neologisms and language norms ).

When translating from English, formally corresponding German words are often used, even if they are otherwise not customary in the same meaning, e.g. novella for Engl. novel 'Roman'. The change in the meaning of words - which is a normal process in every language - is accelerated by these translations, which are strongly oriented towards the source language. Without testing for a known German equivalent at first largely incomprehensible creations, can arise as nonproliferation treaty (English non-proliferation treaty ), although for the German since the late 1960s, the term Non-Proliferation Treaty is established and known.

Due to the predominance of the English language in business , science , pop music and computer science , sentences in which many anglicisms are used can mainly be found in the jargons spoken there:

"I had the hard disk reformat because of incorrectly fitted jumper for data corruption has led and computer ge crash t."

Without anglicisms, the sentence would be something like this:

"I had the hard drive reformat because the data through a misplaced jumper damaged were and the computer crashed is."

In the field of marketing, too, keywords with good sound are often used, but their meaning is sometimes unclear due to a lack of translation basis. Likewise, new processes and inventions are often named and abbreviated in English. This mostly results in uniform product names in the manufacturing and marketing processes of a globalized economy. However, some new Anglophone word creations are only used in the German-speaking area, cf. Sham Anglicism .

In earlier years, words imported from technical or social jargons were often adapted in their spelling to German and in some cases also experienced a change in meaning. Examples of adaptations are envelope to "envelope", cakes to "biscuit" or disquettes to "diskettes". Today, especially when it comes to terms from English, such adjustments are largely foregone. The "computer" variant proposed in the 1980s did not catch on; the correct spelling of the Kompjuter has also not become established in common parlance. Today, in addition to the term computer , the German term “rechner ”, which goes back to the computer pioneer Konrad Zuse , has established itself .

The endeavor of many commercial enterprises in the German-speaking area to present themselves as cosmopolitan and international as possible, but also the tendency towards Anglicisms that had existed for a long time in the youth subculture, led to this development being adopted by the advertising industry and the media. This in turn meant that the rest of the economy and large parts of the population adapted to the development. The increasing infiltration of English "sounding" terms into all areas of life since the 1990s was given a boost by the boom in the PC market led by technical terms, the rapid spread of the Internet and the associated occupation with computer science and related fields of knowledge.

The use of words borrowed from English in specific contexts without taking into account the overall pragmatic context associated with the Anglophone-speaking area sometimes leads to semantic confusions ( false friends , pseudo-Anglicisms ) in the case of compositions based on them : for example, a German company applied for the term backpack (which is in other finds from German into English collection, see also list of German words in English to avoid), a shoulder bag as a body bag , but this in English usage body bag means.

The attempts of the GDR to gain international recognition by introducing such terms into everyday language were influenced differently, but with the same result . The word broiler for fried chicken is just one example of this.

As a result of the internationalization and globalization of society and technical and scientific progress, as well as the associated spread of English technical terms, the German language is adapting to the new living conditions on the one hand, and the global language function and the role of English as the first foreign language means that the German-speaking area increasingly used English to borrow terms. Some people perceive this change, which is also reflected in the development of the German language, as disturbing and see it as dangers for the continuation and establishment of the German language culture.

Borrowing and adapting English words is one of the current developments in the German language. As part of this development, loanwords are given a German garb, for example grammatical gender, plural ending and a generally accepted meaning and context.

Examples: "I have downloaded" (or "updated" ) is used just as often (among other things in Microsoft publications in accordance with the in-house style guidelines that were in effect until autumn 2005) as the correct form (according to Duden, among others) "I have downloaded" (this form follows the conjugation rules of the German language [ down = download + ge load et = laden]).

Sometimes an abbreviation even has a different grammatical gender than its long form: the URL (because of the Internet address ) is far more common than the URL (because of the masculine ending of locator ) when speaking of the standardized form of an Internet address.


Another phenomenon is the use of English grammatical constructions in German ( loan syntax ). They can arise from unprofessional translation of English texts or from poor dubbing of English-language films, etc. The British-German journalist Alan Posener is also bothered by the German grammar influenced by English grammar and, in his opinion, incorrectly used German grammar, for example on the notice boards of piers .


  • once more - once more (instead of, for example: "again", "again", "again", "again", "again", "again", "again", "again").
    The phrase “once more” in this meaning is grammatically incorrect in German. However, it is correct in other meanings, e.g. B. “The city once had more inhabitants than it does
    today.” Or in connection with “not”: “Today the city no longer has half as many inhabitants as it did back then.” This can lead to particular difficulties in understanding.
    There is also the wrong combination of English and German grammar to "once again", although here too there is a correct German usage, e.g. B. "The country has once again won more medals than anyone else."
  • in 1968 (year - instead of: "in the year 1968" or just "1968") - but always in business German
  • to remember sth. - remember something, I remember something (instead of: "remember something", "I remember something"); which should be noted is that this formulation also in some dialects (such as the North German ) finds and Sigmund Freud , the verb remind consistently transitive has used
  • to realize sth. - to realize something (instead of: “understand something”, “grasp something”, “recognize something”). This use, which according to the Duden is permissible as a secondary meaning, is popular with sports reporters who ask the athletes whether or when they have "achieved their victory".
  • to communicate sth. - to communicate something, although "to communicate" is intransitive in German . Is used more and more often for "announce, communicate".
  • to make sense - making sense instead of making sense.

While one can argue with the borrowed words (nouns, verbs, adjectives), which are part of Denglish, that the adaptation of these words to the rules of the German language is a sign of vitality and versatility, the reverse is probably true here: grammatical structures of the German language are lost and are replaced by English structures. This also applies to the continuous use of the past tense, which often occurs in dubbing, based on the English original, although in German, for example, the perfect would be more common.

With the transitive use of “remember” it should be noted that these expressions were used in German in earlier centuries. The form mentioned can therefore be found in the literary canon. Criticizing it as Denglish can be viewed as hypercorrection . Opponents of Denglish, on the other hand, will note that the old form would have long since died out and that only today's linguistic usage is decisive as to whether a form should be classified as Denglish or not.

A frequently cited example of Denglish is "make sense", as it is e.g. B. is cited by the non-fiction author Bastian Sick . However, it can be shown that things have "made sense" for a long time. The assumption that it was adopted from English is therefore at least questionable, if not wrong. This example thus shows features of a folk etymological interpretation.

An English influence in the orthography is possible with the endings separated by apostrophes with -'s (" apostrophitis "), which occurs mainly in genitives such as in "Angela's Frittenbude", but also in plurals such as "LKW's". A similar deviation from the norm, namely the incorrect separation of the plural s, also occurs frequently in English and is referred to there as the greengrocers' apostrophe .

Other countries

However, this development is not limited to Germany or the German-speaking area. Since President Charles de Gaulle, attempts have been made in France to curb the influence of Anglicisms on the French language - the " Franglais " - with ever new laws, most recently through the Loi Toubon , named after the then Minister for Culture and Francophonie , Jacques Toubon . Similar language protection laws also exist in Latvia , Lithuania , Poland , Québec , Romania , Slovenia , the Czech Republic and Hungary and are being discussed in other countries. In the countries mentioned, some of the legal regulations only relate to public administration, but are also linked to consumer protection, so that contracts and operating instructions , for example, always have to be in the national language and only the version in the national language has legal force.

In addition to Franglais (Franglish), there are Spanglish (Spanish), Engrish , Italglish (Italian), Hinglish (Hindi), Ponglish (Polish) and Svengelska (Swedish).

Other languages

For French-German there has been the term Frutsch, coined by the German press, since 1980 at the latest .

For special European words there are the terms Eurospeak , Eurotalk , Eurojargon , Eurocratic or pejorative Eurokauderwelsch .

Discussion booth

In linguistics, there is no dispute that language is subject to constant influences and changes. There is therefore no such thing as a “pure” or “better” language. Ever since one can even speak of a German language, it has been in constant contact with various European languages ​​from which it has borrowed tens of thousands of words. According to this, developments like Denglish are typical of living languages.

The opinion is often held that there are many things that cannot be expressed equally well in German. There is also the opinion that it is positive that newly created terms, for example in technology, are used uniformly internationally. Especially on the Internet, this promotes comprehensibility. For people who learn or speak foreign languages, it is a great relief if new terms ( neologisms ) do not have to be translated. Economic areas which linguistically adapted to the predominant Anglo-American language area enjoy competitive advantages over isolated language areas. In addition, it is argued that the “fight” against Denglish is more of a mock battle, since it is actually about general cultural pessimism or latent anti-Americanism. Occasionally attempts to Germanize already common Anglicisms are categorized as unrealistic, for example "Zwischennetz" instead of "Internet". However, some such words prevail, such as " file " instead of the more usual in the 1970s " File ".

People who criticize the use of Denglish and feel obliged to maintain the language take the view that the same things can also be expressed in German. The main argument is that language serves the purpose of understanding and therefore understandability should be given priority even when new terms are formed. Here, German words that before the occurrence of a particular regarded as Denglisch expression or Anglizismus are already existed, reused ( motherboard = motherboard ) or revived. In addition, words are searched for or newly formed that are consistent and suitable for everyday use. Right-wing extremist organizations like the NPD also often avoid Anglicisms and occasionally use unusual Germanizations such as “Weltnetz” instead of “Internet”.

Other critics aim less at keeping the language clean, but more at the aspect that Denglish is a kind of "fashion folly" for them. The use of Denglish mainly demonstrates a supposed superiority and sophistication and a general up-to-date nature, whereby the opposite should be impressed with empty phrases .

This has already been noticed in the Anglo-Saxon-speaking area and was disparagingly called German linguistic submissiveness (German linguistic submissiveness ). However, as a German phenomenon, this is also familiar to the rest of the world. English now plays a role similar to that of Latin and French before, both languages ​​that were often used in the German-speaking world in the past to signal supposed superiority. This is now also accepted from a linguistic and cultural studies point of view: speaking Denglisch is seen as a ritual from this perspective . The frequent use of Anglicisms in the professional environment should create the impression that one is international, educated and belongs to the elite . Denglish is thus a formal means of social differentiation and demarcation. The attempt by marketing departments and advertising agencies to make products, services or company names appear superior and particularly innovative with the help of English or supposedly English terms can lead to strange or incomprehensible results from the perspective of native English speakers. One example is “bathroom design” for “bathroom design”. This seems misleading because “bad” means “bad” in English.

See also


  • Csaba Földes : German and English. A language emergency? Findings and comments. In: Rudolf Hoberg (Ed.): German - English - European. Impulses for a new language policy. Dudenverlag Mannheim 2002, ISBN 3-411-71781-5 , pp. 341-367.
  • Ageliki Ikonomidis: Anglicisms in good German: A guide to the use of Anglicisms in German texts. Buske, Hamburg 2009, ISBN 978-3-87548-560-8 .
  • Christian Meier (Ed.): Language in Need? To the situation of today's German. Wallstein, Göttingen 1999, ISBN 3-89244-341-6 .
  • Falco Pfalzgraf Anglicisms as a subject of linguistics and language criticism . In: Aptum. Zeitschrift für Sprachkritik und Sprachkultur 2/2011, pp. 160–176. ISSN  1614-905X .
  • Uwe Pörksen (Ed.): Science speaks English? Attempt to determine your position. Wallstein, Göttingen 2005, ISBN 3-89244-978-3 .
  • Jan Georg Schneider: About free-floating capital, hardliners and instructions. Linguistic Notes on Popular Anglicism Criticism ( online ).
  • Wolf Schneider : Speak German! Why German is sometimes better . Rowohlt, Reinbek 2008, ISBN 978-3-498-06393-1 .
  • Hermann Zabel (Ed.): Denglisch, no thanks! On the inflationary use of Anglicisms and Americanisms in contemporary German. IFB, Paderborn 2nd A. 2003, ISBN 3-931263-35-5 .
  • Stefan Zenklusen : main language English English. In (ders.): In the Coolag archipelago . wvb, Berlin 2006, ISBN 3-86573-164-3 ; Abridged in: Journal for Critical Theory , Volume 2008, ISBN 978-3-86674-034-1 .
  • Dieter E. Zimmer : New Anglo German. In (ders.): German and different. The language in modernization fever. Rowohlt, Reinbek 1998, ISBN 3-499-60525-2 , pp. 7-104.

Web links

Wiktionary: Denglisch  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Stefan Winterstein: Translation Traps , Autopsy November 17, 2006.
  2. Alan Posener: German language: Welcome to ... at ... an? What's right now? In: . January 23, 2012, accessed October 7, 2018 .
  3. Modern Gallicisms and Anglicisms in German. From a lecture by Prof. Dr. Albert Debrunner. In: Sprachspiegel 15 (1959), issue 4, pp. 107, 109. (PDF, 9.2  MB )
  4. The Bremer Sprachblog on "Make Sense" ( Memento from May 1, 2008 in the Internet Archive ) (including references from literature)
  5. Wolfgang Pfeifer (Ed.): Etymological Dictionary of German . 8th edition. Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag GmbH & Co. KG, Munich 2005, ISBN 3-423-32511-9 , p. 1294 .
  6. greengrocers' apostrophe Superfluous apostrophes in the English language Wikipedia
  7. a b c Werner Besch (Hrsg.): Sprachgeschichte: a handbook for the history of the German language and its research , Volume 2 of handbooks for language and communication studies , 2nd edition, Walter de Gruyter, 2000, ISBN 3-11-015882 -5 , p. 2180 ( limited preview in Google Book search)
  8. Lothar Hoffmann, Hartwig Kalverkämper, Herbert Ernst Wiegand (Eds.): Technical languages: an international handbook for technical language research and terminology , Volume 1, Volume 14 of the Handbook of Literature and Communication Studies , Walter de Gruyter, 1998, ISBN 3-11-011101 -2 , p. 2135 ( limited preview in Google Book search)
  9. Better to be online than to tie up . In: Welt Online , September 11, 2006
  10. Neo-Nazis in the “World Network”: Few activists - with a lot of space ( Memento from March 2, 2012 in the Internet Archive ), NPD blog, March 7, 2007
  11. On the trail of extremists , Die Welt , 23 August 2000
  12. Germany is in a crisis of meaning , Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung , September 30, 2015
  13. Linguistic subservience Bremer Sprachblog, November 26, 2009 ( Memento from April 7, 2016 in the Internet Archive )
  14. Norwegian State Fund: This is the world's largest shareholder FAZ from February 7, 2016 - accessed on February 7, 2016
  15. Helga Kotthoff: Anglicisms are the new impressive German , Zeit Online, November 9, 2011
  16. ^ Robert Tonks: It is not all English what shines. English makes German Werbung funny! , Edition Winterwork, 2011, ISBN 978-3-943048-63-6 , Denglish in Pool Position. English makes German Werbung funny! 2 , Edition Winterwork, 2012, ISBN 978-3-86468-325-1 and The Denglisch Doosh Reader 4 The Bad and Worse. English makes German Werbung funny! 3 , Edition Winterwork, 2013, ISBN 978-3-86468-603-0