Monday, March 8, 2010

German words spice up many other languages

When it comes to travel, Germans are world champions. As it turns out, so is the German language. Many Germans words were adopted abroad several hundred years ago - and have stayed.

In England or the US, many children attend a kindergarten. Psychiatrists refer to angst or gestalt. We often refer to something tasteless as "kitschy" and something that is broken is kaputt. What all these English words have in common is that they come from German.

And German words have traveled far beyond English-speaking countries and made their way into a wide variety of other languages.
"It's an interesting phenomenon, to see how far these words spread, how many languages use them," said Rolf Peter, head of projects at the German Language Council.

People use words from other languages because they do not always have the word to describe a particular concept, he added. But that's not the only reason.

According to Martin Haspelmath, senior linguist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, major central European languages borrowed many words from German partly due to Germany's prestigious image in the 18th and 19th centuries.

"Germany in the 19th century was at the top of the world and everyone looked up to Germany in the sciences, technology and humanities," he said.

To read more:,,5315840,00.html

Source of the graphic:

1 comment:

  1. Mein Freund, wish you a good start for your german class tomorrow.
    Martin and Alexander