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Speak you Denglish? Common English mistakes of German speakers

My (inexhaustive) list of Denglish words

13 Jan 2017
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by Dave Naithani
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(comments: 0)
"With him is not good cherries eating!" What on earth could this (mis)translated German idion mean?

If you regularly speak with Germans, be it for business reasons or during travel, you've probably stumbled upon your German counterpart using some pseudo-English vocabulary – a phenomenon called “Denglish”. Find out here what your business partner actually means when he says things like “Handy” or “Shooting”.

Obvious Denglish phrases vs. tricky ones

There are many obvious “Denglish” phrases – usually literal English translations of uniquely German sayings – that most people would flag, for example:

“All this was for the cat”

German: “Das war alles für die Katz

Meaning: “It was all in vain”

“With him is not good cherries eating”

German: “Mit ihm ist nicht gut Kirschen essen

Meaning: “He's not the sort of person to be messed with”

Far trickier for German native speakers are the many subtle “Denglish” words that can wiggle their way into their texts. To help you, who is dealing with German-speaking people via email, reports and social media posts in English, I have put together a list of “Denglish” words to look out for.

So here it is, my list of “Denglish” words, together with the correct English translation:

“Denglish”

What Germans actually mean

Baby phone

Baby monitor

Beamer

Projector

Bodybag

Cross-body bag or messenger bag

Body

One-piece garment (or: a onesie)

Chef

Boss

Chips

Potato chips (and of course in the UK chips are French fries)

Comic

Comic strip or comic book

Cutter

Film editor

Dressman

Male model

Drive-in

Drive-through, drive-up

Evergreens

Classic songs (Golden Oldies), standards

Ghettoblaster

Boom box

Hometrainer

Home gym equipment

Kicker

Table football or “foosball” (how’s that for tit-for-tat language mangling?)

Last, not least

Last, but not least

Lifting

Facelift

To mail someone

To send an e-mail to someone

Messie

Hoarder

Mobbing

Bullying, harassment

Neckholder

Halter top

Oldtimer (Youngtimer)

A vintage or classic car (a youngtimer is a modern classic)

Open Air

Open air (music) festival

Outing

Coming out – self-disclosure of one’s gay/lesbian orientation

Partner look

People who are dressed the same or similarly. Nearest equivalent would be “you look like twins”

Peeling

Facial mask or body scrub

Posting

An online post

Public viewing

Public screening.

Shooting

Photo shoot

Soft ice

Soft serve ice cream

Smoking

Tuxedo

Street worker

Social worker

Talkmaster/Showmaster

(Show) host, emcee/MC

Tramping

Hitchhiking

Walking

Power walking

Wellness

If a hotel in Germany offers "wellness", it means they have a spa or spa treatment available.

 

Are you about to publish a German text that either needs to be translated or has been translated and needs final proofreading by a native German speaker?

Or are you working on an important English text that is about to be published and you’re worried parts may sound like “Denglish” to native English speakers?

Feel free to contact me. I offer new clients a 15% discount on their first translation or proofreading order. Just remember to mention the discount code “0117” in your email to me.

Get a free, no-obligation quote

 

You want to dig deeper and get a better understanding of how people from the German-speaking world do business, think and act in their daily lives?

Then you’ll love these books!

This wonderfully illustrated bilingual read (English/German) had me in stitches: “Denglish for better knowers

And if you know of a typical “Denglish” word that’s not in my list, fill me in – drop me a line in the comment section!

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Website last updated on 2017.03.23. |  ©2017 Elizabeth Naithani, German-English translator, proofreader, language trainer in Cologne, Germany  |  Impressum/Legal Notice  |  Site Map