Denglisch (German spelling) or Denglish (English spelling) is a portmanteau of the German words Deutsch and Englisch. Used in all German-speaking and Dutch-speaking countries, it describes an influx of English, or pseudo-English, vocabulary into the German or Dutch language through travel and the widespread usage of English in advertising, business[1] and information technology. Synonyms are Gerglish, Germish, Angleutsch and Engleutsch.

While it has been argued that this influx, similar to the import of Latin and French words in the past, makes the language more expressive,[2] in many sectors of society it remains controversial, notably with older generations who are often less accustomed to English terms.[3]


Germanisation of English words

English words within Denglisch will have a flexion added to them, so they can be declined in the same manner as German words.

Ich musste den Computer neu booten / rebooten, weil die Software gecrasht ist.
I had to reboot the computer because the software crashed.


Hast du schon die neueste Firefox-Version downgeloadet / gedownloadet?
Have you already downloaded the newest version of Firefox?.

The German version of Microsoft Windows XP will inform the user of the fact that it is currently downloading updates with the words:

Updates werden gedownloadet: 16%[4]

The same can be expressed in standard German, without the use of any English words, as:

Aktualisierungen werden heruntergeladen

Twisting of German idioms and grammar rules

The adaptation also takes the other route, where literal translations of popular English expressions slowly but insistently swap out the correct German words and idioms. Widespread examples of this evolution are:

  • Was passierte in 2005? (What happened in 2005?)
    Formally: "Was passierte 2005?" or "Was passierte im Jahre 2005?" Although this usage is considered wrong by many native speakers and violates German grammar, it can even be found in German newspapers.[5]

These phrasings may have originated from (dubbed) English-language movies and other media translated into German, but they are also used in everyday language.

Some of those constructs will only be found in youth language, where it has become common, for example, to talk about coole Events which captures almost, but not quite, the same meaning as the respective English phrase.

The English words that are borrowed usually have rather specific connotations attached to them, in most cases more so than either their translation or their original: Statement [to the press, or a pledge of opinion], Event [cool] social/cultural occasion, like a concert], Paper [scientific research paper, not 'paper/'Papier - though the latter may also mean "document"/"paper"].

Another phenomenon is the usage of the English genitive (possessive) construction 's , often called Deppenapostroph (Idiot's apostrophe or Idiot's inverted comma), instead of the appropriate German constructions. For example, a Denglisch speaker might write Wikipedia's Gestaltung (Wikipedia's design) instead of either Wikipedias Gestaltung, or die Gestaltung der Wikipedia. Less often it is used, incorrectly, to mark a plural (Greengrocers' apostrophes):

Handy's, Dessou's,

or for adverbial expressions, such as

montag's (instead of montags, cf. English [on] Mondays)

Denglisch may combine words according to English rules by writing them in succession. According to the Standard German grammar and spelling rules, this is incorrect.

Reparatur Annahme instead of Reparaturannahme

The first spelling, the words in succession, makes no logical or grammatical connection between the words but simply juxtaposes them. The second combines them to one word, an Annahme (in this case a place where something is received) for Reparaturen (repairs). This is often called Deppenleerstelle, or Deppenleerzeichen which means idiot's space, incorrectly separating parts of a compound word.


These words seem to be foreign words, but they are German creations and have a different meaning, or no meaning at all, in (real) English.

German word Meaning to German speaker
Beamer (digital) projector
City[6] city centre, downtown, central business district origin: The City (of London)
Dressman[7] male model
Drive-In[8] drive-through
Evergreen[9] golden oldie (referring not just to music, but to anything that has been popular for a long time)
Fitnessstudio[10] gym or fitness club
Handy[11] mobile phone or cell phone
Oldtimer[12] vintage or classic car, or aircraft
Peeling[13] facial or body scrub
public viewing has been used for major sport events like the FIFA World Cup when the games were shown on huge screens to the public, although public viewing used to have a different meaning apparently this "new" meaning is creeping into native English
Shooting[14] photo shoot
Showmaster[15] TV-show host
Slip[16] briefs, knickers, panties
Smoking[17] dinner suit, tuxedo origin: the then less formal dress for events with smoking allowed
Streetworker[18] social worker
Timer[19][20] calendar / appointment book
Tischset, or Set[21] placemat, doily
trampen[22] hitchhiking
Wellness-Hotel[23] Closest translation would be "spa", although often used to describe hotels that simply have a pool or sauna or other such amenities plus appropriate promotional adverts.


Some companies such as Deutsche Bank now do much of their business in English.

Several departments of the major German telephone company Deutsche Telekom were known as "T-Home" (formerly "T-Com"), "T-Mobile", "T-Online", and "T-Systems".

Many American films such as Ice Age do not translate their titles into German. Menus of many global fast-food chains also usually go partly or completely untranslated: Double Whopper (earlier: Doppel-Whopper) mit leckerem Bacon und Cheddar Cheese.

Advertising language

Advertising agencies have such need for both languages that they want ads for new employees to contain plain English such as "Join us". (Wetzlarer Neue Zeitung 26 August 2006). KFC Germany's recruitment slogan is "I Am for Real", and their website shows very heavy use of English coupled with non-standard German.[24]

German commercials or—more often—written ads thus are likely to use many English terms:

Mit Jamba! können Sie Klingeltöne, Logos und Spiele direkt aufs Handy downloaden.
Wählen Sie aus Tausenden coolen Sounds, aktuellen Games und hippen Logos.

The term "downloaden" is alleged to have been coined by Microsoft, as there is a non-English and often-used German word ("herunterladen"). Microsoft Windows Update uses the phrase "Downloaden Sie die neuesten Updates" (Download the latest updates) instead of the standard "Laden Sie die neuesten Aktualisierungen herunter". The latest interface guidelines suggest that the term "herunterladen" should be used again, because many users complained. However, Aktualisierungen (other than herunterladen) would not be idiomatic German in this usage, or at least have to be explained as Softwareaktualisierungen or Programmaktualisierungen, the former involving the new Anglicism "Software".

The use of ("Handy") has its roots in a commercial name, too. It is related to the handheld Walkie-talkie, a commercial name for the two-way radio transceiver to be transported in a bag, later in hands, hence called ("Handie-talkie"). The proper translation would be ("Handsprechfunkgerät"). Germans used to cite the word ("Handy") as an example for Denglisch.

The field of personal hygiene tends to use much English:

Double Action Waschgel
Vitalisierendes Peeling
Energy Creme Q10
Oil Control Gel Creme
Oil Control Waschgel
Neutrogena Visibly Clear Anti-Mitesser Peeling
Ariel Sproodles

The same applies to detergents:

Color Waschmittel instead of 'Farbwaschmittel' or 'Waschmittel für Farbiges'
[brand name] Megapearls
[brand name] Oxy-Action

Larger national and international companies based in Germany also make use of English to describe their products. The television broadcaster ProSieben uses the slogan "We love to entertain you", while Zurich Financial Services advertise with the slogan "Because change happenz". The fastest trains run by Deutsche Bahn (German Rail) are named "IC" and "ICE", abbreviations of "Inter City" and "Inter City Express", while information booths are named "ServicePoints" and first-class waiting areas are referred to as "Lounges".[25]

Sometimes such neologisms also use CamelCase, as in the Deutsche Telekom's newest rates called "Fulltime", "Freetime", "Call Plus" and "Call Time" offering additionally such features as "CountrySelect". Travel agencies offering "last minute" bookings or manufacturers adopting "just in time" deliveries has become general use, probably required by international commerce and economic interests.

The phrase "Test it!" is increasingly common as an English phrase idiosyncratic to German, meaning roughly "try it out". This is thought to have originated with advertising copy for West cigarettes, exhorting consumers to "Test The West".

Denglish in popular culture

  • The popular German a capella group Wise Guys produced a song on their Radio album called "Denglisch", a tongue-in-cheek look at the use of English words in German language. In this song the lyrics start out mostly German with only a few English words creeping in - "Oh, Herr, bitte gib mir meine Sprache zurück!" (Oh, lord, please give me my language back). It progresses to most of the lyrics being English: "Oh Lord, please gib mir meine Language back"
  • In 1985, famous German poetical songwriter Reinhard Mey recorded "Mey English Song" as a parody on radio increasingly frequently playing English songs, although the fans "only railway station understand" (literal translation of the German idiom "verstehe nur Bahnhof", cannot understand a thing). In the song, he states, his producer told him "Well, what do we now for record sell?", urging Mey to sing in English.
  • On an episode of the web series Will It Blend? Tom puts a German-English/English-German CD dictionary into his blender. After he finishes blending the dictionary, he says, "Denglish smoke! Don't breathe this!"[26]

See also


External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Denglisch — Mischung aus Deutsch, Englisch und Französisch in einem Bekleidungshaus Denglisch (auch Engleutsch, Germish (engl.)) ist ein wertender Begriff aus der deutschen Sprachpflege. Diese verwendet den Begriff, um den vermehrten Gebrauch von Anglizismen …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Denglisch — Le denglisch, ou en anglais Germish, est un mot valise assemblé des mots Deutsch (allemand) et English (anglais). On parle de denglisch lorsque des mots ou expressions anglaises sont insérés dans une phrase à structure grammaticale allemande (c… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Denglisch — Dẹng|lisch 〈n.; od. s; unz.; meist scherzh.〉 mit englischen Wörtern durchsetztes Deutsch ● die Gegner des Denglisch rufen zu einem Kampf gegen die Anglizismen auf [verkürzt <deutsch + englisch] * * * Dẹng|lisch, das; [s] [zusgez. aus Deutsch …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Denglisch — noun German containing English vocabulary or terms modified from English. Syn: Engleutsch, Germish …   Wiktionary

  • Denglisch — Denglischn vomEnglischenüberwuchertesDeutsch.Nach1955aufgekommeneZusammensetzungaus»Deutsch«und»Englisch«.⇨Deuglisch …   Wörterbuch der deutschen Umgangssprache

  • denglisch — dẹng|lisch (abwertend für deutsch mit [zu] vielen englischen Ausdrücken vermischt) …   Die deutsche Rechtschreibung

  • Denglisch — Dẹng|lisch, das; [s] (abwertend) …   Die deutsche Rechtschreibung

  • Denglish — Denglisch Le denglish, ou en anglais Germish, est un mot valise assemblé des mots Deutsch (allemand) et English (anglais). On parle de denglish lorsque des mots ou expressions anglaises sont insérés dans une phrase à structure grammaticale… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Denglish — Gemisch aus Deutsch, Englisch und Französisch: Schild eines Bekleidungshauses in Heilbronn Denglisch ist ein Kofferwort, das sich aus „Deutsch“ und „Englisch“ zusammensetzt. Parallel dazu, jedoch weniger geläufig, existieren die Ausdrücke… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Engleutsch — Gemisch aus Deutsch, Englisch und Französisch: Schild eines Bekleidungshauses in Heilbronn Denglisch ist ein Kofferwort, das sich aus „Deutsch“ und „Englisch“ zusammensetzt. Parallel dazu, jedoch weniger geläufig, existieren die Ausdrücke… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.