Anglicisms in everyday life and how they pose a challenge for translators

Anglicisms in everyday life and how they pose a challenge for translators

Many English terms have already become well-established in the German language. Laptop, notebook, comeback, chat, countdown, teamwork, update - every single German uses these words regularly in everyday life without further ado.

In many cases, these Anglicisms do not even have an equivalent in German - is this an issue for translators and interpreters?

Especially in recent years, the English language has spread more and more in the German-speaking world. This poses a challenge for translators and interpreters in particular.

The marketing and media sector is particularly “affected” by Anglicisms. English is ubiquitous and German can hardly “beat” it. In the news, for example, you hear that a "whistleblower" has "leaked" secret documents and this "story" then makes waves. Perhaps Hollywood will also hop on board and the whole thing will become the "blockbuster" of the year. On social media, the "trailer" is then diligently shared and "liked". That's also how the actors of the movie get more attention and "followers". Social media particularly promote the further spread of English in the German language. As a result, many young people pick up on short English words, such as "cute", "random", and "weird", and use them in everyday life and on other platforms. Translators must recognize this distinct trend especially in the field of marketing and implement it accordingly whenever the target audience are "teenagers".

Anglicisms are not only prevalent in media and marketing - they can also be found in sport

In boxing, Germans no longer say "kämpfen", but "fight". Competitions and contests are now "challenges" and no longer “Wettbewerbe” or “Herausforderungen”. There are "shooting stars" in football and "newcomers", who of course regularly train in the "gym" and no longer in the “Fitnessstudio”. And even the “Mannschaftsgeist” has become "team spirit". When translating, linguists must always ask themselves what would best suit the target audience. When translating for trade journals, for example, they tend to refrain from using Anglicisms, unless they are already well established in the German-speaking world - especially in the respective industry itself. However, when it comes to shorter, more informal messages and news that are "posted" on social media, for example, Anglicisms are often used as a kind of stylistic device.

Information technology has a language of its own - challenges for specialist translators

However, the situation is somewhat different in the field of computer science and information technology ("IT"). Words such as "user", "account" and "interface" are by far not the only Anglicisms that have established themselves in the German language. The overwhelming majority of IT-specific terms are English and thus also widely used in the sector-specific literature. This often poses a particular challenge for technical translators, as in many cases it is not obvious which terms remain English or have a German equivalent that is also preferred by experts.

Pseudo-Anglicisms in German: What do specialist translators and interpreters have to do with that?

Last but not least, there is also the group of pseudo-Anglicisms. These are English terms that have been adopted into German, but have taken on a completely different meaning here. For example, the English "old-timer" (long-established; old hand) becomes the German "Oldtimer" (vintage car). The same applies to "Handy" (English: practical, German meaning: cell phone), "Beamer" (English colloquial for a BMW, German meaning: projector) and even "Happy End" is actually supposed to be "happy ending". These pseudo-Anglicisms usually do not pose too much of a problem when translating texts, since in most cases, they have already been Germanized to the point where they are generally known and frequently used.

Anglicisms in the German language - boon or bane for interpreters and translators?

To sum up, it can be said that Anglicisms make the translation industry quite interesting, as it is often no longer possible to clearly define whether a certain term should be translated "correctly" into German at all or whether using the English word is the preferable option here. This is especially true in the field of marketing & IT. In general, translations must be produced in a way that they address and appeal to the intended target audience. Therefore, especially in marketing-related texts, many Anglicisms or English slogans are adopted and consciously used to make the respective product appear more modern or contemporary. In the end, however, we can only hope that the German language will continue to be "Made in Germany".