The things I learned last week: German loan words in English

learningEvery language, through its history and evolution, incorporates a multitude of words and phrases from other languages. English, for instant, contains many latin-based words, but also words of french origin, and others. German has many french and latin loan words, too, but especially english terms are abundant, whether their use is the same in German as it is in English, or not, doesn’t really matter.

Modern german words incorporated into the english (or other) languages were not so common in the past, as far as I’m aware. There are words like Angst, Zeitgeist, Kindergarten, and some others that would have been around for a while now, but they are few enough to stand out

I’m always surprised which german words make it into English.  Last week I came across two words I hadn’t even known in German that have obviously been adopted: Drachenfutter and Eigengrau. Neither of them is in our main dictionary. Neither is used widely.

Eigengrau appears to be a psychological term and refers to the intrinsic grey you see in total darkness.  Drachenfutter means dragon food and is used to describe an appeasement gift for an angry female spouse. That’s a slang word, and not too common here. I think Drachenfutter is an awful word and I am not so pleased that it got adopted. Odd, how some words make it, and some don’t. Words are important. They affect our thinking. Calling a wife a dragon is not something I’d want English speaking people to learn from Gemans.

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