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Denglisch: The English words that will make you sound like a German speaker

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Denglisch: The English words that will make you sound like a German speaker
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Denglisch - a hybrid of Deutsch and English - can refer to the half-and-half way Germans and foreigners speak to each other. But Austrians use plenty of English words amongst themselves - although they don’t always mean the same thing.


English speakers are no stranger to using certain German words when speaking English—schadenfreude, wanderlust and kindergarten being perhaps the most obvious. The process is possibly even more advanced in reverse.

English words are found in all parts of Austrian life. Many Austrians don’t even necessarily understand why. English-language cultural influence is certainly a part of Austrian life, but the dubbing of television shows, to use just one example, remains far more widespread in Austria than in many smaller European countries, which use original audio with subtitles.

Here's a selection of anglicisms that Austrians use with each other. 

READ ALSO: The German language you need for summer in Austria


'Coffee-To-Go' or 'Takeaway'

'Ein Kaffee zum mitnehmen' is correct and your coffee shop owner will definitely understand what you want if you ask for it. But plenty of Austrians will ask for a 'Coffee-To-Go,' even when speaking German to an Austrian barista. This seems to only apply to coffee ordered on the move, however. If you’re sitting down at a table, expect to order a (specific) Kaffee.


Human Resources, 'Soft Skills' and 'Manager'

'Personalabteilung' is still used to describe a human resources department. But plenty of Austrian companies—whether international or mostly Austrian will use Human Resources even in German-language communication. Although 'Leiter' and 'Leiterin,' meaning 'leader' are used, even Austrian job titles will use “Manager.” The word 'Manager' has even been adapted to accommodate German noun genders. A female manager, may be referred to as a 'Managerin'.

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The world of work in Austria is also notable for importing another contemporary English term. 'Soft Skills' is used in German when recruiters are looking to see if a candidate might fit culturally into a particular workplace. The words actually describing these skills, like 'Führungskompetenz' or 'leadership ability,' often sound unmistakably German though. But there are exceptions. 'Multitasking' is used in German as well.

'Clicken,' 'Uploaden,' 'Downloaden' and 'Home Office'

As technology that came of age relatively recently, German has imported many English terms related to technology and the Internet. While web browsers might use 'Herunterladen' instead of 'download' or 'hochladen' instead of 'upload,' Austrians are just as likely to use the slightly Germanized version of the English word, hence 'downloaden'.

READ ALSO: Why traditional German names are often used as insults

Another example is 'Home Office', which describes, well, working from home. It can be confusing for English speakers, though, especially those from the UK, because the Home Office is a department in the British government. 

A woman uses a smartphone in front of a laptop (Photo by ISSOUF SANOGO / AFP)

English words that have slightly different meanings in German - 'Shitstorm' and 'Public Viewing'

There are English words Austrians use that don’t always mean quite the same thing to a native English speaker. An English speaker from the UK or Ireland, for example, might associate a 'public viewing' with an open casket funeral. Austrias, however, tends to use “public viewing” almost exclusively to mean a large screening, usually of an event, that many people can gather to watch for free. 

Then there’s what, at least to native English speakers, might sound outright bizarre. But Germany's former Chancellor Angela Merkel herself usedShitstorm” more than once while in office. In German though, it can refer specifically to a social media backlash involving heated online comments.

Another typical English-sounding word used in German differently is 'Handy' - meaning cellphone (well, it does fit in your hand). It can sound a bit strange to English speakers, though. 

Other words, however, more or less mean what you think they do - such as when one German newspaper referred to Brexit as a 'Clusterfuck'.

READ ALSO: Shitstorm 'best English gift to German language'




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