Why we use our “Handy” and watch movies with a “Beamer”…

Why we use our “Handy” and watch movies with a “Beamer”…

Did you ever speak with Germans and wondered what they wanted to tell you by using the words “Handy”, “Boxen” or “Beamer”? In this article, we will unearth the truth the meaning of these and more “Denglish” words used in German. 

The world is subject to globalization and since English is the lingua franca of the globalized world it is not surprising that there are more and more English words in many languages of the globe.

This development does not stop at the borders of German-speaking countries. And so “googeln wir” if we look for something online or “wir liken einen Post” on social media. Also, we call our newborns baby instead of “das Neugeborene” and go to a meeting and not to a “Treffen”.

These English words in German are very clear and I am sure that almost everybody will understand this. But Germans invented a number of “Denglish” words which are Germanized English words that only Germans will understand.

Germans, for instance, use “das Handy” (cell phone) to make a phone call. Even though there is a “real German” word called “das Mobiltelefon” for it, almost nobody will use it and might look a bit irritated in case you decided using it as it sounds very old-fashioned.

When we are studying in school, university or if we want to watch a movie using the overhead projector, we will call this lovely machine “der Beamer” because it “beams” the picture to the wall. If this sounds disturbing in your ears or reminds you too much on Star Trek, you could still use the “more German” term “der Tageslichtprojektor” but you should be aware that this could bring you some laughter as nobody uses this word anymore.

When we want to listen to music we need speakers to do so. Germans are practical so they decided to call them “die Boxen”, because they obviously look like boxes. However, you can also say “der Lautsprecher” and with this German version, nobody will even laugh at you as it is still quite common.

In the last years, there is a new phenomenon which arose during the world cups – “das Public Viewing”. This “Denglish” term describes the live broadcast in a public area. You could also call it “eine öffentliche Direktübertragung” but most likely you will not have to wait for laughter doing so.

The messenger bag is an invention of the 90ies and was very much in fashion also in Germany. The German term is “die Kuriertasche” but as you might expect to read in this article, they also decided to find an English way to call it: “das Body Bag”. For Germans this might sound very logic, as the bag fits around your body but unfortunately, they forget that in English, a body bag is a bag a corpse is put in before it is carted off.

In German, a very old car which is more than 30 years old is called “der Oldtimer” even though in English this expression refers to an old person. Other examples are “das Mobbing” which means bullying or “der Evergreen” (also der Dauerbrenner, der Oldie) which refers to an oldie instead of plants.

After reading all of these “Denglish” or so-called pseudo-Anglicism words, the next time you will listen to a German saying a weird “half-English” word, you should not doubt your skills but better ask, what this expression stands for – because you never know what they made up!




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