Friday, April 17, 2015

German Loanwords: Part 2

Today we're concluding our exploration of German loanwords in the English language that we began on Wednesday, which included words like schadenfreude and wanderlust.

Doppelgänger - Nowadays, people generally use this term to refer to someone who resembles someone else, usually physically. However, the term is also often found in folklore and fiction referring to a physical double of a living person. Creepy!

Kaput - If something's kaput, it's broken or ruined. It comes from the German word kaputt, which means "destroyed, ruined, lost".

Rucksack - This German term does the same job as the word "backpack", since Rücken refers to the "back", while sack is obviously "sack".

Big Mouth Billy Bass is definitely kitsch.  
Kitsch - This fun German term is generally translated as "gaudy" or "trash", and is used in reference to items that are popular, but considered to be "in poor taste". A couple of examples of kitschy things are plastic pink flamingos and garden gnomes that people like to use as lawn ornaments.

Verboten - Occasionally, you might hear an English speaker say that something is verboten, which means it is forbidden. It became popular in the English language around 1912.

Carabiner - These handy metal loops with spring-loaded gates are often used in activities that involve ropes, such as rock climbing, caving, and sailing. The name comes from a shortened form of the word Karabinerhaken, which translates as "carbine hook" (a carbine is a type of firearm).

Loanword - While the English term loanword does have German origins, it's not actually a loanword! Instead, it's a calque, or "loan translation" of the German word Lehnwort. However, the term calque is a loanword, but from the French language.

Did we leave out your favorite German loanword in the English language? Let us know in the comments below, and please include a definition!