eye-print Logo

  El seu soci competent per a la presentació de la seua empresa

 Llocs Xarxa  Programació  Suport  Servei  Curiositats
 Referències  Àlbum  Contactes  Avís legal
Protecció de Dades
 Vista general

 català   Printer   Flag-DE Flag-ES Flag-UK
Curiositats d'interès (Curiositats en anglès)


English is spoken all over the world - or so Anglo-Saxonia tends to think. As a lingua franca in the fields of commerce, science and technology, English enjoys status unequalled. As native speakers, however, we tend to be unaware of the passions English arouses when it encroaches too far into another language.

There were always the French, of course, with their Academie Française making French compulsory in all information aimed at the general public - but, then, that's the French, n'est-ce-pas? or quite, apparently. Next to the Poles, who recently passed similar legislation, there is mounting

German protest at the tidal wave of English spreading throughout the German language. Leading the attack against marauding Anglicism is Professor Dr Walter Kramer, whose Society for the German Language was first noticed two years ago when it gave German fashion designer Jil Sander the Language Adulterator of the Year award for an interview in a leading newspaper containing passages like: "Mein Leben ist eine Giving-story. Für den Erfolg war mein co-ordinated Concept entscheidend. Die Audience hat das alles supported", meaning: "My life is a giving story. My co-ordinated concept was crucial to my success and the audience supported all of that." The society next took a pot-shot at Ron Sommer, head of Deutsche Telekom, whose constant references to CityCalls, GermanCalls and GlobalCalls earned him the 1998 award not least, says Professor Kramer, because such terms are unintelligible to even native English speakers who refer to the terms local, long-distance and international calls.

Kramer, a professor of economic statistics at Dortmund university, is anxious to dispel any impression of fanaticism. "We're not interested in legislation banning English or any other language from public life here," he says. "We want consumer protection at linguistic level. That means German in all communications aimed at the public, especially advertising, which doesn't mean that other languages cannot figure, too - but the German equivalent must be given." Kramer's society, still a voluntary association staffed and run by people with other full-time jobs like himself, has burgeoned from a small, committed group of seven to a hugely popular organisation with 7,500 members in just two years. The association's campaigns and annual, awards provide entertainment for the public as well as achieving results. Deutsche Telekom now bills its customers in German after one man, emboldened by the press furore surrounding Ron Sommer's "calls", paid his bill in sterling as a protest.

Prominent admirers of Kramer and his industrious campaigners include Ottmar Hitzfeld, Bayern Munich's trainer, Frank Schirrmacher, co-publisher of the newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, and a host of politicians across the spectrum. Flush with members, the society now has regional offices in each German Land which keep members informed about protest campaigns against companies using too much "Denglish" (a mixture of German and English).

Germany's C&A, for example, was forced to end widespread use of English in its ad slogans after it was snowed under by protest letters from Kramer's supporters. Each month, the group targets and exposes an organisation. Hapless victims include the illustrious Deutsche Bank, electricity supplier Yello Strom, and the perfume chain Douglas, whose slogan "Come in and find out" dominates company advertising. The society's members go into such stores and ask about goods and prices - in English, to the embarrassment of the predominantly non-English speaking staff.

Although now widely taught in schools, nearly 50 per cent of - mostly older - Germans speak no English at all, vindicating Kramer's arguments for the use of German within Germany. After huge publicity following this year's Language Adulterator award to Johannes Ludewig, former chairman of the German state-owned railway Deutsche Bahn, for his constant references to McCleans (pay-as-you-go toilets), service points, ticket-counters and DB-lounges ("Why doesn't he just call it German Rail?" muses Kramer) the society has entered a new phase.

Following its first general meeting recently, members appointed a committee of experts - linguists and journalists - to safeguard the interests of German which, they feel, risks drowning in a sea of superfluous and often inaccurate Anglicisms. However, even Kramer concedes that certain English words are permanent fixtures in the German language, spoken and understood by everyone. "The term sex-appeal, for example," he says, "cannot be improved upon German. Everyone knows what it means, because it has been around for so long. Also the word hobby -no-one would dream of using the German term. Everyone, from toddlers to grannies, says hobby." Words like event, statement and highlight have virtual cult status in German and arouse the professor's ire. "The German equivalent for these words is every bit as good as the English one, in most cases better!" he says, citing a long list. "We don't want to attack every English word in sight," Kramer continues. "But we object to pseudo-cosmopolitan English ad-jargon because it's incomprehensible to most of the German-speaking public. German advertisers use more English words than anywhere else in Europe." So what does the future hold for Kramer and his followers as they pursue their mission to clear the (linguistic) air for their fellow countrymen? "We hope, some day, that we can no longer justify our existence because our job will have ended," he says. "Until that time, we will speak up for their German language whenever necessary."

The Scotsman - United Kingdom; Dec. 10, 1999


- Avís legal - Impressum - Protecció de Dades -

eye-print   -   viu la Xarxa amb altres ulls