German and English

In warm countries, there’s quite a bit of creeping and crawling an average Central European is unfamiliar with. When I lived in Sydney, Australia, for a year, we had a certain type of small cockroach in the kitchen. When I asked my Australian flatmate what they are and how we can get rid of them, she just said, ‘They’re German cockroaches. You can’t get rid of them.’ (I’ll just leave that uncommented for you to feast on.) What else is ‘German’ in English and vice versa?

Let’s stay in the animal realm and start with a similarity: the German Shepherd is called ‘German’ in German as well. And that’s about it with commonalities.

Diseases are interesting. Our two languages made a trade-off here. In English, the rubella disease is also referred to as German measles. In return, rickets used to be called die englische Krankheit (‘the English disease’) in German. So we’re even in this area.

And then, German gets a bit out of hand. We love the English so much that we make ample use of them in our language. For example, when ordering beef in Germany, if you are asked how you would like it cooked, you have to say ‘Englisch, bitte!’ if your preference is rare. And also other areas show frequent use of englisch.

Sports – In German football (American English: soccer), the englische Woche (‘English week’) means that some matches take place during the week as opposed to being limited to the weekend, as is common in Germany. (However, at Lidl and Aldi, it means offering limited-edition British products such as shortbread and fish & chips.)

Nature – The people of Munich are very proud of their Englischer Garten.

Horseracing – Unsurprisingly, there is a considerable influence from Great Britain in this area. The riding technique of ‘rising’ is called englischer Trab, or Leichttraben, in German.

Bookbinding – apparently, a certain type of cardboard cover with a sleeve is called englische Broschur in German.

And even our toolboxes are full of our favourite islanders: the colloquial word for an adjustable wrench in German is Engländer.

If you think that’s OTT, I’d like to share something very brief with you next week.

The Pommes Buddha says: Hey mate, chuck us the German, will ya?

Listen to this text as a podcast episode:

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