Let’s talk Denglisch

You are on the wood way and only understand station? If you’ve ever wondered how those terrible translations that keep the world entertained come into being, Supertext is here to act as your guide. We’ll punch you off your stool, so to speak.

More than a billion people worldwide speak English. Around a third of them as a first language, others as a second… and some more in theory than in practice. Not everyone that calls themselves a translator is a good translator, but someone that learnt the language at school or on a six month exchange? They will probably end up mutilating the language. With hilarious results.


Let’s take German as an example. The German language is littered with anglicisms (or linguistic immigrants). This is annoying enough for linguistic purists, but when lay people get their hands on these out-of-context fragments, they can end up creating phrases that never existed in English at all. Denglisch is born.

A brief guide to Denglisch linguistics

The basic rule of Denglisch (also known as Engleutsch or Germish) is very simple: translate each word directly into English, and for best results keep strictly to the German sentence structure. German idioms are perhaps the most popular victims of Denglicization – who could resist ‘You go me on the cookie’ (a literal translation of ‘Du gehst mir auf dem Keks’, or ‘You’re getting on my nerves’), ‘Your English is under all pig’ (‘Your English is terrible’) or ‘My dear Mister Singing-Club’ (the far less expressive ‘Blimey!’)? Meanwhile, scientists believe they’ve found the formula for the perfect Denglisch sentence: 10% each of German and English, 39% wild guesswork and 41% blind optimism.

Wearing your Denglisch on your sleeve

Want to show the world your love for these cross-wrong, pig-funny phrases? Along with hundreds of lists of Denglisch idioms, the internet offers online shops that sell Denglisch T-shirts, books and bags. But anyone who actually describes a boring party as ‘dead trousers’ (‘tote Hose’, or ‘dull’), wants to build a ‘donkey bridge’ (‘Eselsbrücke’ or ‘mnemonic’) to help them remember something, or has an allergic reaction to ‘cable salad’ (‘Kabelsalat’ or ‘tangled cables’) should probably seek professional help – preferably from Supertext’s translation service. It’s both quick and accurate, and that makes us nobody so fast after!

Titelbild via Flickr: und – Erich Ferdinand (CC BY 2.0)

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