Wednesday, September 03, 2003

Linguistic Tilting at Windmills

Going by this Ananova article, it appears that the French aren't the only ones who would like to waste energy halting linguistic change in its' tracks.

Anglicisms 'invading Germany'

Linguistics experts in Germany fear the country is being invaded by a hybrid language full of English words.

Experts from the Association of the German Language and the Goethe Institute warn the German language could even die out.

They said German words were continually being replaced by Anglicisms, and in most parts of the country pure German was no longer spoken.

They said "Denglish", a mix of German and English, was now the language most commonly being used.

Erika Steinbach from the Goethe Institute in Berlin said: "Consumer protection has to be extended in order to tackle this problem.

"Every product, from train tickets to fabric softener, has to have their name and instructions in readable German."

Authorities have now been banned from using Denglish in official business and Jutta Limbach, former President of the Federal Constitutional Court, has even founded her own German Language Council.

Given the relationship between English and German, I find these efforts even more stupid than those of the French. For goodness' sake, English and German were the same language only 1000 years ago, so how much change could even an avalanche of English words possibly wreck on German? Take a look, for instance, at the word "Handy", which is used for mobile phones in German: not only is the meaning totally different from its' English counterpart, but the actual root, "Hand", is also a perfectly legitimate German word in its' own right, meaning - yes, you guessed it - "Hand", just as in English!