Do You Speak Denglish?



Want to visit Germany? You better brush up on your English! Wait, you say. Don’t you mean German? Not exactly, because the English language has been creeping into all facets of German life since I immigrated to the U.S. almost 21 years ago.

Of course, terms such as “trampen” (hitchhiking), “Smoking” (tuxedo) and “happy end” have been around since I was a child. But the overall use of English, especially in marketing and IT, has increased tremendously.

A cell phone is called “handy,” the bakery/Bäckerei is  now a “Back Shop” and a day spa is just that—a “day spa.” Auskunft is a “Service Point.” And the tongue-twisting Sommerschlußverkauf has simply become a “sale.” If anyone wants to sound important, they will tell you they are attending a “meeting.”

Don’t be alarmed when someone is looking for their “bodybag.” It doesn’t mean that someone died a violent death. It’s simply Denglish for messenger bag or fanny pack.

My last visit occurred during the World Cup. When I saw billboards announcing a “public viewing,” I was wondering who died. But the term simply referred to the viewing of a soccer game on a huge screen.

At least one term hasn’t changed yet: Autobahn!


Image: Merker Berlin (


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