Why do Americans love jargon so much

Cell phone: when Americans and English don't understand Germans

The brave new world of languages?
Image: dpa The tourist from Oldenburg no longer understood the world. She wanted a baseball cap, and again and again asked the man in Manhattan about a "baseball cap". But he just looked at her questioningly. Didn't the American speak English? Yes, he did. But not you - at least not with the decisive word. "Basecap" is a typical English word that is not English at all. The German invention is one of a series of supposedly English words that only Germans know. And the confusion is often great.

Language purists are annoyed by these words, which fall under the heading of pseudo-Anglicism. The English and the Americans cannot help it, in fact, they have no idea what linguistic eggs the Germans lay in their own nest. Oldtimers and happy endings, projectors and baseball caps - there is no such thing in English, or it means something completely different. "Beamer" is slang for something very German: a BMW. The projector is simply called "Projector" in the USA. And baseball cap? This is a decorative strip that is available in the hardware store.

A linguistic submission

The brave new world of languages?
Image: dpa The most successful word of this kind is "mobile phone". Studies have shown that the word has long been the most common name for a mobile phone in Germany. Basically it's no wonder, the word is short and concise - but just wrong. Because if it is a German word, it should actually be spelled "Händy". There have even been attempts like this, but they are long history. The English entertainer Stephen Fry still makes people laugh on the island by asking in German "Where's my cell phone?" Germans look confused. What's wrong with that?

"Many Germans feel the need to use their colonial masters' language rather than their own language to name the world," rumbles the chairman of the German Language Association, Walter Krämer. "The Times of London once described it as 'linguistic submissiveness'. If you were vicious, you could call it ass-kissing."

There is nothing wrong with adopting foreign expressions - as long as it makes sense. "But there can be no question of that in the behavior of Germans towards English." This is an escape: "For many, their Denglish is a kind of self-made cosmopolitan pass according to the motto" Better half an American than a whole Nazi ".

The supposedly English words can sometimes cause great confusion. Millions of Germans have fun at public viewing? In America, public viewing is the laying out of corpses in an open coffin. The "body bag" fits in there - a term that a retailer seriously used to advertise a backpack. In the US, that's just a body bag.

Advertising incorporates wrong expressions

"Many pseudo-Anglicisms are so integrated that you can no longer see them," says linguist Joachim Grzega. "Showmaster was invented by Rudi Carrell back then, only we Germans know" zapping "for switching, but the" Home Trainer "even made it into Dutch." Others could do the same, however: French and Italians, for example, said "footing" to what in good German means "jogging".

Grzega sees the culprits in advertising. "People told us very clearly: We don't care if this is nonsense, but it sounds cool."

"I was very confused when I asked my students about their professions," says Cindy Grant. The New Yorker gives an adult English course in Kassel, and one student proudly said that she was a street worker. In America, the streetwalker, which sounds almost the same, is the description for a prostitute. At Grant's puzzled look, the social worker proudly said that the job was her whole life and that she did it with full dedication all day. "At first I thought, wow, that the Europeans would be more open, I knew, but that ... wow!" Only a classmate with experience in America resolved the misunderstanding.