Saturday, September 11, 2010

German Language Day 2010

Somehow typical showing the European Flag
and the UN-logo
Today is German Language Day (Tag der deutschen Sprache) and it happened that this very morning I finished Günter Grass’s latest book: Grimms Wörter; Eine Liebeserklärung. The New York Times wrote about Grimm’s Words: The book is a declaration of love, as the subtitle states, to Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm’s collection of German words into a dictionary. 

The Brothers Grimm actually started their Deutsches Wörterbuch when in 1848, following a conflict about the Hanover Constitution with their king, they - together with five other collegues (the Göttingen Seven) - were not only ousted from their professorships but also expelled from the Kingdom of Hanover.

The Wörterbuch is more than just a dictionary. It is rather like an encyclopedia of German words, their origin and development. It is a treasure trove particularly for a writer like Günter Grass who loves German Baroque authors and their style.

Coming back to the German Language Day 2010 the Badische Zeitung published an interview with Professor Ludwig Eichinger full professor for German linguistic at the University of Mannheim. It is there where the Duden, Germany's reference source for our language, is published. When Eichinger was asked about the influence of the American English on the German language he gave an all-clear.

We had earlier impacts on our language. In the 18th century it was the Français that caused outbreaks like: O spei aus, vor der Hausthür spei der Seine häßlichen Schleim aus! Rede Deutsch, o du Deutscher (Oh vomit in front of the front door vomit the Seine river’s hideous slime! Speak German, oh you German). With respect to the American influence we are far from such outbursts. If there are no good German translations why not use the English word? By the way, who knows the German equivalent for upgrade? The other day I read cute translations for drop down list and browser: Klappliste and Stöberer. Since my early days with the computer I fight a personal battle using the word hard disk all the time for the good German Festplatte. After all, I try to compensate my lapsus linguae in forcing E-Post instead of e-mail.

In fact, during the last years German enterprises have rediscovered German like the Deutsche Bahn (German Railway). They promised to rename their Service Point into Kundenzentrum.

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