Anglicisms in German and the translation industry

Anglicisms in German and the translation industry

It is impossible to imagine the German language without Anglicisms, which are emerging and spreading ever faster thanks to globalization and social media. This is a phenomenon we have already addressed in our article "Anglicisms in everyday life and how they pose a challenge for translators".

New global phenomena and developments often bring Anglicisms - interpreters and translators adapt

The Corona crisis, for example, has demonstrated that not only our everyday life can change rapidly, but also our language. New regulations lead to new ways of behaving, and with them new vocabulary finds its way into our language. For example, at the beginning of the crisis there was a "lockdown". This term was preferred over the German equivalent "Ausgangssperre", but currently it is also used as a synonym for restrictions on public life. "Social distancing", i.e. keeping an appropriate distance from other people, is now of great importance. These restrictions have increasingly led to many employees starting to work from home (the term used to describe this in German is "homeoffice" - a pseudo-Anglicism) and parents now "homeschooling" their children. This development also affects the work of language service providers. For example, the now widespread "homeoffice" leads to more telephone conferences. More and more companies are turning to telephone interpreting to ensure flawless communication on a digital level as well.

Sentence structures from English are also creeping into everyday language more often - an advantage or rather a disadvantage for interpreters?

Does it "make sense" to adopt sentence structures from English into German? By now, the use of "macht Sinn" has become so common in German that many people are not even aware that it is a literal translation of the English "makes sense". The correct German expression in this case is "ergibt Sinn". Not only phrases, but also entire sentence structures are increasingly being taken directly from English. This is how grammatically incorrect sentences such as "ich kann dich am Donnerstag nicht besuchen, weil da habe ich keine Zeit" are created in colloquial speech. Here, the verb of the subordinate clause is moved to the front. This can be advantageous for simultaneous interpreters in particular, as they no longer have to wait until the end of the sentence to hear the operative verb. However, this way of expression is neither good nor correct and should not be used in a professional context. For our experienced interpreters, however, even complex sentence structures do not pose a problem. Even interpreting jobs at events with over 3,000 guests are mastered with confidence.

Language of teenagers as a source of Anglicisms - a new challenge for translators?

Many Anglicisms find their way into the German language through teenagers. Recently, the "Youth Word of the Year 2020" was chosen. Even here, there is no "Abstimmung" but a "Top 10 Voting", in which one of ten terms can be chosen. Among these 'youth words' are some Anglicisms, as has been the case in previous years as well. For example, young people perceive something as "cringe" instead of "peinlich", and when they are at a loss, they are "lost" instead of "ahnungslos" or "unsicher". Now and then it even happens that old Anglicisms are replaced by new ones. The word "cool", which has been commonly used in German for a long time, is now increasingly being replaced by "nice". This clearly shows the vitality of the language. Our interpreters and translators always keep up to date to ensure smooth communication.

Anglicisms are relevant to interpreters and translators in other languages as well

In some languages, Anglicisms are handled differently than in German. The French and Icelanders strictly reject the inclusion of Anglicisms in their language. In French, for example, working from home becomes "télétravail" and not "homeoffice" like in German, and terms such as "social distancing" and "homeschooling" are also not used. This means that professional translators have to learn new vocabulary and keep up to date in order to provide accurate translations. Languages such as Spanish and Japanese are comparatively fond of English terms. In contrast to Anglicisms in German, the spelling is adapted in these languages. In Spanish, sweater becomes "suéter" and shampoo becomes "champú". In Japan, people like to eat "potetochippusu" (potato chips) and "aiisukurriimu" (ice cream). You often don't recognize these terms as Anglicisms immediately when you read them, but only when you hear their correct pronunciation.

Should translators and interpreters fight against Anglicisms in the German language?

In Germany, as in France, there are opponents of Anglicisms as well. Members of the Verein Deutsche Sprache e. V. (German Language Association) firmly reject Anglicisms - but the broad majority of the population is less critical of them. For interpreters and translators, the most important thing is to reach their desired target group. This means that Anglicisms may be used in marketing texts, for example, especially if a younger target group should be reached. In specialist translations, the use of correct terminology is very important. Therefore, established specialist terms that are Anglicisms should not necessarily be translated into German. For interpreters, Anglicisms can be advantageous if they are shorter than their German equivalents.

In summary, when using Anglicisms, translators and interpreters should always consider which target group should be reached.