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The new German slang that has older folks scratching their heads

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The new German slang that has older folks scratching their heads
File photo: DPA.
11:53 CEST+02:00
It's not a real German word. It's not grammatically correct. Basically, it's your German teacher's worst nightmare.

As soon as the media start to write about any hot new youth “trend”, that’s probably a sign that it’s already over - or will be upon publication.

But nevertheless, we’re here to explain the phrase “vong… her.” You may have seen this popping up online, on the streets and even in mainstream advertising by now, and perhaps wondered what the heck it means.

An example: Das Wetter ist schön vong Sonne her.

Translation: The weather is nice from the sun.

It’s actually a bit hard to translate because the phrase in fact is not grammatically or logically correct - and that's the point. The word “vong” is a misspelling of “von” and is used to connect information that is often redundant or unnecessary in a sentence.

So another example: Was ist ‘vong’ für ein Wort vong Bedeutung her?

Rough translation: What is ‘vong’ for a word of meaning?

One more example: Ich bin satt vong Hunger her.

Translation: I am sated of hunger.

SEE ALSO: Ten German slang words you'll never learn in class

The phrase can be traced back to an online joke in part inspired by 35-year-old Austrian rapper Money Boy's way of writing, replacing the word ein or eine (one or a) with just the digit 1. As early as 2015, some on social media started using "von... her," according to Merkur Online.

But then 33-year-old Sebastian Zawrel - alias Willy Nachdenklich - launched a Facebook page called “Thoughtful sayings with pictures”, involving images with captions rife with grammar and spelling errors, mocking the way Money Boy and others wrote. He reports that he made the page while sick in bed one day, and finding cheesy, sentimental internet phrases, often full of mistakes.

What started as a joke has now morphed into much more, leading major German news outlets to write articles explaining the phrase's meaning.

The bank Sparkasse used the “vong” phrase in an advert last year, Vodafone is now also using it in a campaign, Frankfurt police have used it on social media, and even German dictionary Duden has picked up on the trend.

Translation: The moment when your data capacity from last month is still there.

Translation: You must always watch out for correct spelling. Because grammar.

Linguists like Konstanze Marx from the Institute for the German Language are fascinated by the phenomenon.

“It is great when non-professionals practice language criticism,” Marx said.

“The regular mistakes online are recognized and then mocked.

“Playing around with language is something that is creative and only works because the actual rules are established,” she added.

The professor noted that there was no risk that the incorrect grammar and spelling would come to be the norm.

“Anyone who is familiar with proper writing will notice that this is exaggerated and intentional.”

But dictionary publishing company Langenscheidt saw things a bit differently, noting that the phrasing was becoming more common in spoken German, not just online.

“For both teens as well as adults, there is a possibility that knowingly provoking the incorrect use of the German language could certainly make it a long-lasting trend,” said Verena Vogt who handles word selection at Langenscheidt.

Zawrel himself feels honoured by all the attention.

“Maybe in two years ‘vong’ will actually be in Duden,” he said.

SEE ALSO: The Berlin slang you need to survive in the German jungle

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