Linguistic Change

Uwe Hinrichs, © Uwe Hinrichs

“Multi-Kulti-Deutsch” – An Interview with Uwe Hinrichs

Goethe.de spoke to the linguist from Leipzig about the trend towards linguistic simplification and about the German language of the future.More ...
“Silence”. Photo: Ilya Dobrych at flickr.com, Licence: CC BY-ND 2.0

Beware Newspeak! How the Language of Politicians Reinterprets the Facts

Überwachung (surveillance) or Freiheitskämpfer (freedom fighter) – these words do not only convey information, but also opinions.More ...
Karl-Heinz Göttert; © Südpol-Redaktionsbüro/T. Köster

“German no longer stands alone”. An Interview with Karl-Heinz Göttert

In his latest book, Karl-Heinz Göttert looks at how German needs to position itself in a globalized world. Goethe.de talked to him about German and the world.More ...
Both of the teams of “Ticket to Berlin” Photo: Daniel Pasche

“Ticket to Berlin”: Spanish kisses and Egyptian impressions

“Ticket to Berlin” is a new video series for students of German in which two teams – six candidates – make their way across Germany.More ...
In 14 countries we tested a total of nearly 54,000 students for the study. Photo: stockbroker © 123RF

Language proficiency in the EU: a study to inspire improvement

For the first time, a language proficiency survey was carried out among students in 14 European Union countries. Dr. Michaela Perlmann-Balme gave us an overview of the findings in an interview.More ...
Approximately half of the approximately 6,700 languages spoken around the world are in danger of extinction. Photo: Christian Wilkinson © iStockphoto

A Race against Time – The Documentation of Threatened Languages

Some hundred endangered languages have been archived in the Documentation of Endangered Languages programme. A basis also for gaining new insights into well-researched languages.More ...
There is no migrant German as such. Photo: stockbroker © 123RF

The German of Migrants: “Ethnolect” is Obsolete

At the 48th annual conference of the Institute for the German Language, linguistics experts engaged in controversial debate about phenomena of the German spoken by migrants.More ...
Some of our words may soon have disappeared from the language.

Save the German language! – Threatened Words

Linguistic innovations are often criticised for supposedly being unaesthetic or grammatically incorrect. But who thinks of the words that have got lost somewhere along the way?More ...
Viadrinic adapts the German words so they sound Polish. Photo: Steve Debenport © iStockphoto

Viadrinic - A Language with a Grammar of its Own?

“Viadrinisch” is what the students at the European University Viadrina call their German-Polish language mixtures. They not only use German words in Polish sentences, but conjugate them in the same way as Polish words.More ...
People do not write in the same way as they speak. Photo: Erik Khalitov © iStockphoto

The People Who Make Conversations Readable – Conversation Researchers

Why are filler words like “um” not as superfluous as is often claimed? Conversation researchers investigate the rules governing language.More ...
Is it “Schweinebraten” or “Schweinsbraten”'? Photo: Tomas Banisauskas © iStockphoto

Mistake or variation? Grammatical mutations in standard German

Stephan Elspaß, a German studies professor, is taking a closer look at the variations in standard German grammar as part of an international research project.More ...
New words enter the German language on a daily basis.

The World of Neologisms

The German language is constantly producing new words, known as neologisms. Yet it may take several years for a word to be included in the Duden dictionary and various criteria also have to be fulfilled.More ...
The German language appears to be being increasingly abbreviated by its speakers. Photo: © Wilhelm Busch/gemeinfrei

Subject, Predicate, Object, Old Man! Observations on the Everyday Use of German

The fact that language changes is a natural phenomenon. Languages show signs of wear and tear. But does the feeling that the language is being reduced and simplified correspond to reality?More ...
Who decides what is written in the Duden? Photo: tioloco © iStockphoto

How Do Words Get into the Duden?

The Duden is the German dictionary that has set the tone for 130 years. What is in the Duden is good German. But who decides? And according to what criteria?More ...
German is being increasingly displaced by English in the world of science. Photo: Tomas Skopal © iStockphoto

German as a Language of Science: German Language, Whither Goest thou?

For years there have been heated discussions about the diminishing importance of German in the science world. But what are the disadvantages being debated?More ...
Some brand names are taken over in daily language use. Photo: frankoppermann © iStockphoto

Brand-specific verbs

Googeln, flexen, skypen. Verbs derived from brand names have become an integral part of the German language. The intriguing thing about them is that there are not as many of them as one might imagine.More ...
Modal particles are a way of giving linguistic expression to politeness Photo: Claude Dagenais © iStockphoto

Would you please ...?

What is it that makes language polite? And which German expressions engage peoples’ sympathies the most? And how can polite expressions be translated from one language into another?More ...
An Interview with the linguist and writer Armin Burkhardt Photo: Alexey Ukhov © iStockphoto

From nutmegs to bicycles: A football fan explains the lingo

Players launch it over the bar. Not many people other than football (soccer) fans would know what you were talking about here, but the “Dictionary of Football Language” could be of help.More ...
Topics which have been met with great interest Photo: Pesky Monkey © iStockphoto

The course of study “Variation and transformation in the German language”

Why is “I don’t even think about it anymore” such a standard sentence among Germans? And is German really being supplanted by English?More ...
Whole expressions from the English have been finding their way into German Copyright: iStockphoto - Pgiam

Anglicisms are changing the German language

Service-Point and Mainstream – it is quite obvious that these German words come from English, or they seem to, anyway. But many traces of English are not as easy to recognise.More ...
Highly-qualified immigrants manage surprisingly well without the German language Copyright: iStockphoto - Andres R

A Career in Germany without German – No Problem

In debates on linguistic integration the ability of highly-qualified people to integrate is taken for granted. Yet in academic circles in particular, people manage surprisingly well without the German language.More ...
Language as expression of identity: The rapper Samy Deluxe Copyright: David Königsmann

Yo! What’s Up, Digger? – Hip-hop Language in Germany

Hip-hop culture is prompting many young people to engage intensively with language. From the Old School and "middle-class rap" to contemporary street rap, German-language rap shows a great zest for form and content-related wordplay.More ...
“Geil” - the history of a taboo word Copyright: iStockphoto - Alija

From “Foaming During the Fermentation Process” to Becoming a Sexual Taboo Word: The Adjective “Geil”

“Geiz ist geil” (Being stingy is cool) and “So billig, so gut, so geil” (So cheap, so good, so cool) advertising slogans promise. Many people feel uncomfortable when they hear such things, however, because the adjective “geil” is really a sexual taboo word. Nevertheless, young people in particular now use “geil” with a quite different meaning to refer to something positive.More ...
Marketing games in business: Medial capitals Copyright: Barbara Polzer

Medial capitals: Spelling Monstrosities from the Marketing Department

BahnCard, InterRail – travellers may be amazed by the words coined by marketing agents. English is not the only linguistic influence to pervade German. Monstrous words with medial capitals not only look odd, but also break the spelling rules.More ...
Teenagers. Foto/Copyright: Bernhard Frei, www.jugendfotos.de, CC-Lizenz (by-nc): http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/de/deed.de

“Nullchecker” (clueless)? Never Again! – All You Need To Know About German Teenage Slang

Did you get into a bit of “rocken” at a “Gammelfleischparty” at the weekend? And that is why you maybe got a lot of “beef” from your “Ische”? No? Or maybe you simply have no idea what we are talking about? If that is the case, then you are probably over 20 and obviously too old – too old to understand teenage slang.More ...
Revival of the dialect Copyright: Barbara Polzer

Dialects in Germany – Changing Variations on the Spoken Language

Anyone travelling through Germany and talking to people soon notices that many different variant forms of German are spoken. One might even think that every German region has its own language. Dialects or vernaculars, as these variations of spoken High German are called, are undergoing constant change. But much is being done to prevent them being lost as cultural and everyday languages.More ...
Is the language of SMS messages ruining they way in which we express ourselves? Copyright: istockphoto - Izabela Habur

Keep it Short: How SMS Messages and E-Mail are Influencing Expression

According to a recent poll, most Germans think it is perfectly all right to congratulate someone on their birthday in an SMS message. And then they write “Happy B-Day 2U” instead of “Happy birthday”. Is the language of SMS messages ruining they way in which we express ourselves?More ...
The language skills of child minders at daycare centres often prove invaluable. 
Copyright: Colourbox

Immigrant Languages: An Occupational Asset

Dr. Bernd Meyer, a linguist at the University of Hamburg, was commissioned by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) to identify occupational fields in which immigrant languages may be of use.More ...
The language barrier Copyright: istockphoto/Catherine Lane

20 Years after the end of the German Democratic Republic: Has the language barrier been broken down?

Whereas the Westerner trudges home with his Plastiktüte (plastic bag) from the Supermarkt (supermarket), the Easterner carries his shopping in a Plastetüte (plastic bag) from the Kaufhalle (supermarket). And when the Westerner gets hungry after the shopping, he buys himself some Brathähnchen (fried chicken). The Easterner – yeah right, eats Goldbroiler (fried chicken) instead. Were and are there – besides these few examples that are quoted over and over again – in fact substantial language differences between the east and west? Does the Berlin wall still exist in form of a language barrier?More ...
Potsdam linguist Heike Wiese. Copyright: Wiese.

Creativity and Innovation: The Multiethnic Language of Youth, Kiezdeutsch

Linguist Heike Wiese conducts research into “Kiezdeutsch”, the language spoken by young people living in multiethnic communities in Germany. She battles against the widely held preconception that this is a deformed, primitive variant of German, and that its speakers simply can’t speak “proper” German. “Bavarian, after all, isn’t seen as a failed attempt to speak high German either”, says Heike Wiese in an interview with goethe.de.More ...
Copyright: Klaus Tschira Stiftung

Out of the Ivory Tower with Understandable Language

Science is heavy going for many non-experts. They struggle with technical terminology and long-winded explanations. Yet “communication problems” of this nature are not necessary. If scientists want to be understood and move away from their specialist jargon, if interested amateurs listen carefully or read attentively, then it is possible to bridge the gap – to the benefit of society.More ...
Cop: picture-alliance/dpa

Chronicle Of A Long Debate: The Spelling Reform

The controversial and occasionally emotionally charged debate on the German spelling system, which raged for over a decade, is over. Following several amendments, it finally came into force on August 1, 2007.More ...

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