Last week here on the Bespeaking blog, we started our exploration into German loan words in English. And while we won’t finish that this week (a teacher’s work is never done!), we’ll dive a bit deeper still.
Here are 5 more German loan words in English. Are there any that you find surprising?
Did you ever hear the term “gestalt” mentioned in your psychology class in college? If you did, you have the Germans to thank for it.
In German, Gestalt is a shape or a form, and this is part of what’s behind the theory as well. Gestalt theory in psychology is that the human mind forms a group of something and perceives the group as different than the parts that make it up. It can be a bit complicated, but so can German! We borrow this word because one in English simply doesn’t exist!
I love a good bit of glitter, glitz, and glamour (much to the dismay of one of my friends). But did you know that the word glitz is a German loan word, too?
The German word for glitter is Glitzer (remember that if you go to a party in Berlin), which just makes me feel fancier just talking about it.
A good bit of kitsch can be fun sometimes. You know what I mean, right? Those kinds of tacky, mass-produced knick-knacks and bric-a-brac. Well, kitsch is definitely a thing in Germany; so much so, that they invented the word for it.
Kitschig is one of my favorite words in German because I think it sounds so sweet when it’s said out loud. Even though I trip over it every time I say it.
Did you know that the word for our great-great-ancestors was a German one?
Well, it is! “Tal” in German is a valley, and the first Neanderthal fossils were found in the Neander Valley, which is about 7.5 miles (12 km) east of Düsseldorf. Looks like we’re all descended from Germans!
In recent years, Schadenfreude has made its way into the English language. It’s a great descriptive word for when you take a certain kind of pleasure or happiness in someone else’s misfortune.
Let’s just hope you don’t have to use it that often!
More than just the car sharing company, Uber, über is the German loan word for “over,” in addition to other prepositions. It has a bit of a different meaning in English, where we use it more as “over the top,” or “really” or “very, very” something, or when someone seems to be able to do it all (Martha Stewart, anyone?). For example, “Our puppy is über excited when we come home from work!”
Do you have some favorite loan words? Or do you have a suggestion for a post you’d like to see up on the blog? Let us know!
Erin Duffin lives in Berlin, is an English teacher, yoga instructor, and would love to have puppy, even an über excited one!