Denglisch Guide Part 2
Do you want to sound like a German native speaker? It’s pretty easy. Just speak Denglisch. Use English words mixed with German grammar. Take part in what Germans do a Billion times a day. In part 1 of our Denglisch guide we talked about this:
Why you should speak Denglisch
Apart from learning German grammar and vocabulary and studying how to put sentences together, also try to get a feeling for how the language is used in everyday conversations, how it changes or simply what words and phrases people find appropriate when saying hello or goodbye.
When Germans enter a shop in Germany, will they ask the sales assistent “Hi, how is it going?” or will they greet with just “Hallo”? Will Germans work on their Computer and Laptop or will they use a Rechner to get done what the boss wants to be done yesterday?
In our Denglisch guide, I am going to share with you the secrets of speaking the everyday German. Part of the everyday German is Denglisch. Don’t only parrot the Denglisch that is already spoken, but sound like a native and know how it works. In this part 2 of our guide, we want to focus on importing ANY English noun into German.
Wir brauchen immer noch einen Babysitter für heute Abend. (= We still need a babysitter for tonight.)
What you will learn in this post
Ok, how do you make English nouns German? The only thing we have to do is to follow these simple steps.
- Spell the English noun with a capital letter
- Assign your Denglisch noun an article (and get some tips for choosing an article)
1. Spell the English noun with a capital letter
What is a noun again? To get everyone on the same page, let’s clarify shortly what a noun is. Here is what Google tells us about what a noun is: “a word (other than a pronoun) used to identify any of a class of people, places, or things common noun, or to name a particular one of these proper noun.” German nouns are easy to spot as they are spelled with a capital letter:
Start with a capital letter
Now that we clarified what a noun is, we can have a look at the process of importing English nouns into the German.
Ich habe es im Computer gespeichert. (= I saved it on my computer.)
Firstly, we need a capital letter when making our new German noun since German nouns all start with a capital letter. Secondly we need an article: der. Et voilà, a new German word is born. Der Computer is ready to be used; in the dative case in our example.
Setzen wir uns doch auf die Couch! (= Let’s sit on the couch.)
Again, we need the capital letter and an article, in this instance it is die. Used within a sentence, in the accusative case here, the couch is incorporated into the German language.
Ich habe an einem Jobtraining teilgenommen. (= I took part in a job training.)
These examples have one thing in common. The nouns are used the same way in English as well as in German. They are just made German by spelling it with capital letter and assigning it an article to fit in. They also have in common that these words can be used instead of the German words.
der Computer – der Rechner
die Couch – das Sofa
Sometimes, Denglisch doesn’t replace a German counterpart, because a German word hasn’t been established before the Denglisch word was created.
das Jobtraining – I can’t think of a German equivalent. Let me know if there is one.
2. Assign your Denglisch noun an article
You are almost done with creating your Denglisch word. We just need an article. Will it be der, die or das? Which one should we use for our new word? Well, that’s a justifiable question.
Feel the article
Germans tend to base the answer to this question on feelings as well as on a few hints. At least that’s what I do. Not everyone agrees with me unfortunately which leaves me confused each time. I was very bewildered when I read das Blog for the first time. Wie bitte? Das Blog as well as das E-mail? Never ever in my life will I use the neuter article for Blog or E-mail. Never ever.
It is der Blog.
It is die E-mail.
I felt even stronger about it, when I saw the Duden (the German version of the Oxford dictionary) labels both, der and das Blog, as correct (I can live with that, somehow), but believes das Blog is the prevalent form. Relieved from my anger I felt when I found a survey among German speakers which suggests das Blog also is in use, but der Blog would be prevail for the majority of German speakers.
As you can see, there is a lot going on, not only for me but for others, too. I don’t know why but the article question can rock people to their core and I am no exception. Sometimes, the only thing you can do is to wait until an article is established and the majority of German speakers agrees upon it (which means it is der Blog, right?) or you live with more than one article.
However, there are no all-embracing rules but some hints for genders. Those hints are not very reliable. Therefore, keep learning articles with every noun you learn. Articles are part of the noun.
Anything more accurate?
With this easy trick your chance of picking the right article will increase significantly up to 100% percent. Mix Denglisch with an established German word. Build a compound noun. When forming a compound noun the last part of the compound noun determines the gender/article.
der Computer + die Maus = die Computermaus
das Hobby + der Schwimmer = der Hobbyschwimmer
What also can be a convincing argument is to use the article of the German word that could be replaced by the Denglisch word. Use the article of the word you want to replace Blog is short for Weblog which is used instead of Logbuch. The article of Logbuch clearly is das, because the last part das Buch determines the article of the compound noun Logbuch:
Log + das Buch → das Logbuch → das Weblog → das Blog
Fair enough. Cringe. Here is another example.
Das Mädchen (= the girl) → call girl → das Callgirl
Well done. You now know how you turn any English noun into a German noun. Well done. Let’s sum it up.
- Take an English noun
- Contract it together if it consists of 2 or more parts (call girl translates to das Callgirl)
- Spell it with a capital letter
- Assign it an article
Part 3 of our Denglisch Guide will be about how to use English verbs when speaking German (“Gestern hat mich Stefanie auf Facebook getaggt!“)
What do you think about using Denglisch? Is it a pet hate for you or do you find it very useful?