Is the German language in danger? According to The Guardian, some German linguists think so. Apparently English, German’s bigger brother, is encroaching on its sibling’s turf.
The problem is especially notable when it comes to technology – English is coining new buzzwords like “follower” and “livestream” and exporting them at an astounding rate, so quickly that the English versions catch on before German translations can gain traction.
The German Language Association, or VDS, has been trying their hardest to play catch up. This month, for example, they suggested that Germans say”Anhänger”instead of “follower”, “Direkt-Datenstrom” instead of “livestream” and “Geselligkeit” instead of “socializing.”
But VDS spokesman Holger Klatte told the Guardian that their efforts simply aren’t having enough of an impact:
“German has been losing its importance for 100 years. Particularly in the areas of technology, medicine, the internet and the economy, English is becoming ever more important. There are not enough new German words being invented, and many people are shut out of the conversation because they can’t understand it.”
It’s not just shiny new internet terms, either. “Marketing,” a field that has been around for decades, is translated as “das marketing.”
The VDS wants the German government to issue French-style protections for the language, but it should be noted that the French system is often seen as too slow in coming up with new equivalents for the latest buzzwords, as well.
Also, not everyone sees the German language as being under siege. Andrea-Eva Ewels, the managing director of the Society for the German Language, told the Guardian that while a significant minority of Germans were admittedly unhappy with the number of English loanwords that have been popping up recently, the situation isn’t as dire as it seems:
“Contrary to common belief, only 1%-3% of the average German’s vocabulary of 5,000 words is made up of anglicisms. We don’t see English as the enemy. We’re of the opinion that English can enrich our language, just as many other languages, for example French and Latin, have influenced German over history.”