Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Stupid Linguistic Nativism

One has to be really insecure and/or have too much time on one's hands to engage in the sort of "language purifying" nonsense that seems so common in France and Germany.

As the world celebrates International Mother Language Day on Saturday, Germany's language purists bemoan the relentless onslaught of Denglish. But a German watchdog has hinted that a turnabout might be in sight.

When burger giant McDonald's recently dropped its famous English slogan "everytime a good time" for its TV advertisement in Germany and replaced it with a very German "Ich liebe es" (I'm lovin' it), an audible whoop of joy was heard in the language purist camp in the country.

After years of all-out war against the rise of Denglish (a mixture of German and English), the Institute for German Language (VDS) -- self-appointed guardian of the sanctity of German language -- is celebrating.

"We have detected a trend reversal," Walter Krämer, chairman of the VDS told dpa news agency. "The fast-food chain McDonald's is once again advertising in German for its products, even other companies and concerns have rediscovered German for their slogans," he said.


Spectacular moves to clean up German

The VDS has been up in arms against the encroachment of English words in the German language for the past six years and is known for its often eccentric ways to achieve its aim.

Last year the watchdog symbolically auctioned the German language on Ebay. Within two days, the highest bid lay above ten million euro, following which the Internet auction site stopped the trade.

The organization also attempted to sue the supervisory board of Deutsche Telekom for its "nonsensical use" of English words like City call, Holiday plus Tarif and German Call. The institute also awards a prize for the Sprachpanscher (language debaser) of the year.

Give me a break, why don't ya? What's with all the militaristic talk of "relentless onslaught" and "all-out war"? English is a Germanic language with more than half of its words of either Romantic or other origin, but you don't see anyone going around ranting about an "onslaught" because terms like weltanschauung, avant garde, nabob and so forth have made their way into the language, do you? The argument against this sort of linguistic purity crap is the very same one as that against TV production quotas and "cultural exceptions" - anything that is attractive in its own right doesn't need protecting.