The word secretary is considered politically incorrect

Change of folk culture due to changes in language in the last 60 years #

By H. Maurer, January 2018

1 Introduction#

Our language has changed a lot over the past 60 years.

But I limit myself primarily to changes in vocabulary or idioms, but not to grammatical (spelling) changes. The latter were hardly created by technical developments, but rather independently of them by spelling reforms. In contrast, technologies such as media, computers, the Internet, cell phones, new transport systems and internationalization have changed our vocabulary significantly. Some words have disappeared or have been replaced by others, many new expressions have emerged.

I am not a linguist and therefore cannot give a complete and in-depth overview of all the arguments and changes. That is why there are also “comments” in the title, with which I want to indicate that I will only discuss certain aspects and, in some cases, personally colored.

Of course, in 1969 I wrote the first German-language book on the theory of syntax [11], my understanding of comparative linguistics was shaped by Whorf [12], ie I am, like him, convinced that language influences thinking, and so am I. later I dealt very intensively with sign languages ​​for a few years [13]. Above all, however, I have been very consciously aware of the language development in Austria for 60 years, and multiple relocations have allowed me to experience local differences. So, in this short post, I dare to mention several groups of changes that I have noticed. I would be very pleased if the readers would comment, further examples or additions.

2. Much has become "politically incorrect". #

The word “negro” can hardly be used any more: “Niger” (especially “nigger”) in English has always been a dirty word, but “negro” has long been a neutral term that is frowned upon today like “Mohr”. “Afro-Austrians”, based on the more frequently used “Afro-Germans”, did not catch on.

Most likely one can use "colored", "black" or "black Africans", although these terms are also attacked in extreme statements such as in the "Racism Report 2006" [1] (... stands for omissions). There it says: "Three words that have an important historical background are" Mohr "," Negro "and" Black African ". All three are used in the context of racist linguistic usage and, in a broader sense, in the context of the oppression, exploitation, enslavement and murder of black people The term "Mohr", which is actually an outdated term, persists. So there is still the so-called "Meinl-Mohren", who tells the colonial history of the colonial rulers and colonial women. ... The "Mohr in a shirt" (chocolate cake with Whipped cream) refers to the chocolate that comes “from afar” and alludes in a discriminatory manner to the supposed chocolate-brown skin color of the so-called “Mohr.” The term “Mohr” was replaced by the term “Mohr” in the course of colonial history and slavery. Neger ”. This change was reflected in other Austrian food names such as“ Negerbrot ”….

In addition, there are numerous negative expressions in everyday Austrian language, such as “being negro”, which expresses not having any money, or the phrase “I am not your negro”, which is supposed to say that you are - and because of their origin alone - no servant, whereby it is assumed that people from Africa would very well be such. Here one is clearly referring to slavery. "

For the executive in Austria, the General Director for Public Security Michael Sika wrote in 1994, "The word negro is to be avoided as much as possible in public usage."

The term "Black Africans" suggested itself. Everyday racism [2] writes about this:

"The term" negro "comes from" niger ", which means" black "in Latin and is nothing offensive at first, on the contrary. Unfortunately, this term has acquired a completely different aftertaste in the course of its use.

During the colonization of Africa in the 17th century, the term "negro" was used in a derogatory and racist context that was intended to construct a superiority of the 'white race'. "

The "Modern Lexicon" from Bertelsmann states in 1972: "Negroes, the 'blacks', the main part of the colored population of Africa, the distinctive group of the Negro racial group." And continues in racial theory: "The negroes are considered to be able to live, extraordinarily adaptable, skillful in learning and in physical work."

Marius Jung says briefly [4]: "Guys, do you still have them all?!? Tramps or apartment hunters, negroes or highly pigmented - where there is political correctness, humor falls by the wayside. As a negro, I can say that. As a black actor, I could always choose between three roles: small dealer, small dealer and small dealer. That's why I decided to go to cabaret. "

The book by Jung [5] deals with the topic in detail, but also does not offer an acceptable variant for the "N-word": That is probably also a statement: One should not delimit a large group of people on the basis of external appearances.

The following note was added to the 2013 online Duden edition: “The term negro is considered highly discriminatory in public usage and is therefore usually avoided. Colored (r) and black (r) function as alternative designations, whereby the designation black (r) z. B. is to be found more and more in reports about South Africa, probably in order to be able to refer more clearly to the black population (in contrast to the Indians etc.). People with dark skin living in Germany have suggested the alternative designation Afro-German (r). This is becoming more and more popular. "

Inuit caught in shell. Totem Heritage Center, in Ketchican, Alaska Photo: H. Maurer
That there is an unsolved problem can be seen from the fact that "Eskimo" (Algonk for "meat eater") is no longer politically correct, but "Inuit" (translated: "human") is very much, although it covers the same groups of people becomes. "Gypsies" are considered pejorative, but "Roma and Sinti" are not. Karl May's Indians are today "Native Americans" (USA) or belong to the "First Nations" (Canada). "Schlitzohr" was probably always a swear word, but the "yellow danger" is still used occasionally, although all color names for people (such as "white", "red", "yellow") are frowned upon today, whereby "black" ( see above) is seen as acceptable in most sources.

History has had a strong influence on the language in Austria, as many loanwords from the most varied of languages ​​have been adopted more strongly in the Austrian variant of German than in Germany, with a certain regression taking place. I will go into this in more detail in the next but one section. But history has changed language in another sense as well. As a result of the terrible events caused by National Socialism, it was no longer possible to use certain terms after 1945, sometimes as an overreaction. The word "race" can only be used for animals, "national pride" is frowned upon not only as a word, but also as an attitude (in stark contrast to the situation in England or France, for example) and words such as "fatherland", "fame" , "Honor", "Loyalty", etc. are "suspicious": every person who often uses such words is immediately suspected "in the right corner". Even the word “home” was similarly suspicious until recently, but has now been rehabilitated as neutral again.

3. Genderitis #

I deliberately brought the Duden statement on the subject of negroes last because an absurd situation becomes noticeable. Colored, black, Afro-German (r) are used, which contradicts the spelling rules as well as the infamous Binnen-I in PolititkerIn, ProfessorIn (or the slash Pilot / in, Professor / in) etc., only because one tries to avoid cumbersome formulations like colored and colored people or politicians.

The majority of Austrians agree that discrimination against people based on their gender should be avoided. Furthermore, there is no doubt that language affects people if one accepts only a little of the Whorf [12] relativity of language. In this respect, striving for gender-neutral formulation makes sense. But “table” remains masculine, “fir” feminine and “wood” neutrally. Bad language by calling words like “you” (in the sense of “you say”) bad, or by insisting on internal I formulations (as some ministries do: the Ministry of Education rejects applications that are not gender neutral "Formal reasons", but accepted, yes required, misspellings like Austrian.)

The absurdity of the discussion about the Binnen-I is almost entertaining: Wikipedia [6] writes: "In the German language, when designating groups of people, the Binnen-I is intended to indicate that both the female and the male form are meant, without having to write out both genera or using the generic masculine. Example: “teachers” instead of “teachers”. In this context, the capitalization of other letters that occur less often, such as “an understanding and patient teacher”, is discussed First use is attributed to Christoph Busch, who wrote in 1981 ... of “listeners”, in contrast to the then usual “listeners.” Busch described his invention as "Sexual maturation of the 'i' and its outgrowth to the 'I' as a result of frequent contact with the long 'slash'."

In contrast, Duden Sprachberatung 2001 sees the Binnen-I as a violation "Against the rule that applies to German that there can only be capitalization at the beginning of a word (of a noun)".

In the 2009 Duden edition, Duden does not categorically reject such a spelling as it violates the spelling, as capital letters are inside the word "Not subject of the official spelling regulation" be.

In the Wahrig-Brockhaus [7] 2011, the Binnen-I is seen as a spelling mistake. In the same year, the first newsletter from Duden-Sprachberatung [8] with reference to the Duden guide for business correspondence again stated: "The use of the capital I in the interior of the word (Binnen-I) does not comply with the spelling rules."

In the Austrian dictionary [9] from 2009, variants are shown with brackets or slashes as well as the inner I. Regarding the latter, the editors note: “The capital I in the inside of the word is not dealt with in the official regulations. However, it cannot be concluded from this that the use is incorrect. "

The attempt to create clarity using ÖNORM shows how absurd some discussions in Austria were. At the beginning of 2014 the plan of the Austrian Standards Institute was announced to revise the ÖNORM A1080 to the effect of the "Preference for unisexual formulations" to give. Among other things, that would have ruled out the Inner I as not conforming to the standard. In the opinion procedure intended for such new standardizations, controversial discussions arose, which led to the committee being dissolved by the presidium of the institute in September 2014 because it “Was not prepared to enter into a dialogue with those who represent other positions, so no serious discussion of the views of the respondents was guaranteed”. In October 2014, the standards institute announced that the "Gender-sensitive use of language" therefore it will not be regulated by ÖNORM in the future either.

The many truly cabaret-ready events came when the city of Linz decided to equip the cycling signs with the addition “cyclists”. Vienna rejected this with reference to the use of already gender-neutral pictograms showing bicycles.

Perhaps as an extra, it should be mentioned that there are studies that show that the Inner-I variant puts the female gender in the foreground, i.e. is not gender-equitable, but disadvantages men. Critics also criticize the consistent implementation of the fact that the interior I is perceived as a female form when reading aloud. This spelling does not mention both genders, but rather a feminization is generated!

It has also been noted several times that negative terms such as criminal, tramp, drunkard rarely (never?) Appear in the form of criminal, tramp, drunkard!

A disadvantage of the Binnen-I, as well as other forms of feminization through splitting, is that they cannot be used consistently. What is the Binnen-I form of do-gooder? : Do-gooder or do-gooder? How does it work with "doctor": a doctor is just as sure to be wrong as a doctor!

In addition, the gender debate assumes that there are only two genders: female and male. The fact that there are not only transgender people, but presumably a gradation of “how much female, how much male” in a person, does not make the situation any easier.

Book cover [10]. Photo: H. Maurer
I hope that after the above descriptions, which could be expanded at will, it is understandable why I chose “Genderitis” as the heading, a ridicule of the exaggeration of gender equality.

In order not to be misunderstood: I believe that gender equality should also be implemented in language where it can be done without capers. Of course, one should use more simply “people” instead of “men and women”. Often the plural, passive and omitting pronouns etc. (also in other languages) help to formulate gender-neutral without any problems. Instead of “The pupils in class 8a are looking forward to the skiing holiday”, “Class 8a is looking forward to the skiing holiday”. Or you replace “men and women of the club… ..” with “members of the club” (this is not a masculine formulation, because the word member is neuter! Even fans of the Binnen-I have waived members.) Or you use one Neutral spelling that emphasizes neither the masculine nor the feminine, but strives for linguistic equality through genderlessness (e.g. teaching staff or teachers instead of teachers). Another problem arises with compound nouns: If the word “mayor candidate” is consistently implemented - since there are both female and male female masters - the gender-equitable form should be “citizen master candidate”.

Incidentally, however, I believe that a general clause cannot do any harm in the case of larger documents: At the beginning of a text, it is stated that the personal designations chosen apply to both genders. Usually this is combined with the note that it improves readability and that both genders are expressly meant.

As much as I am in favor of equal treatment (equal wages with the same performance, equal opportunities with the same conditions, ...) I am against any equalization. A pygmy is a worse basketball player than a tall Texan, men will seldom bear children - and thus save themselves a lot of complications but also the deep bond with the baby that only a mother can feel, etc. In this sense, I hardly dare Writing here in public, I was always against any quota solution, as I stated in my article "Women in all committees!" [10] 30 years ago. Decisions are to be made according to qualification, not according to other criteria. However, it makes sense to me that where qualifications are “equal”, members of historically disadvantaged groups are preferred. I recently saw the excesses of quota regulations in Sweden, when a professor introduced a colleague to everyone as “this is our quota professor”. To my amazement, no one, not even my colleague, seemed uncomfortable.

Regarding the change in the national anthem, Diem [14] explains very clearly that the inclusion of “daughters” can make sense, but not in a version that can only be sung “bumpily”, like the one that is now valid.

The climax of the genderitis is probably the lawsuit against a taxi company that had placed an advertisement "Search drivers for taxi companies" because it "excluded women".

4. New and forgotten words #

In addition to Latin and now English, the French language has had the greatest influence on German vocabulary.

Many words have also found their way into the Austrian variant of German through the history of the K. u. K. monarchy as loan words. This is especially true for words from Slavic or Hungarian due to the structure of the monarchy and from Yiddish due to a certain concentration of Jews in some larger cities.

As far as French words are concerned, these penetrated into Austria mainly via the Habsburg connections with France, and via the settlement of Huguenots (1658) to Berlin, although only a few, such as Fete, spread beyond the Berlin area.

French has long been the language of aristocrats and diplomats. According to the relevant linguistic literature, loanwords (especially those from court life) have gradually been used less and less since the middle of the 19th century.

Examples of this would be a lavoir, sidewalk or basement. A lavoir in Austria (especially in Vienna, often just written lavur) is a basin, but in French it is usually a covered washing area, a kind of basin. Bassin is, of course, another French word that led to the Bassena in Vienna, i.e. a public water point on the corridor of an old tenement house. Trottoir as a synonym for sidewalk is only used in Austria and Switzerland. Rayon is hardly used any more for police districts, ceiling seldom for (room) ceilings.

French words have often been replaced by English ones: Date instead of Rendezvous (also more often used as "Appointment"), okay instead of d'accord (also more often used as "in order"), Party instead of Fete (and is more often used as " Fixed "), boss instead of boss (but rarely superior), etc.

Conversely, new French words are also penetrating our language, such as haute couture, homage or prestige. Adding a French ending creates new words such as embarrassment or Stellage (although shelf would probably also work).

From the summary of the work by Marlen Mussner [15], a few French words in our language are listed here, which are discussed extensively in the work given: Rolleau (French Rouleaux, even often reduced to Rollo, whereby in French the word in German Meaning “roll-up curtain” does not exist at all!); Mantilla (lace veil; could also come from Spanish mantilla; Spanish was at times the language of the Viennese imperial court); Chambre Séparée (would you like a souper in the chambre séparée?); fad (is written without -e in Austria and you can no longer tell the origin of the word; in northern Germany, however, you write bland as in French; the noun for this is fadesse). Other loanwords that only exist in Austria, such as: Falott; Melange; Armchair; Trumeau (pillar or part of a wall, hardly used today).

A treatment of all French loan words in our language is impossible, even to some extent, because according to the list [16] there are more than 700! It is perhaps also noteworthy that with many words we hardly register that they come from French, for example with appetite, canteen, candy, ballet, guarantee, elegance, garage, cloakroom, showcase, subscription, ground floor, and many more.

Austrian has many loan words from Slavic, especially from Czech. No wonder: around 1900 an estimated 250,000 Viennese belonged to the Czech ethnic group: Vienna was the second largest Czech city in Europe at the time! The fact that no more loanwords were included in Austrian is probably due, among other things, to the fact that a large proportion of this Czech population in Vienna were servants, workers and craftsmen who were not only forced to assimilate quickly, but also had only limited influence had language development, for example in the kitchen environment.

Here are a few examples: The (curd) Kolatsche, which in Germany has to be ordered as a “pot bag” or even a “Quarktasche”: the Czech word koláč means “cake”. Or the Buchteln, or “steamed noodles”, which, as a Czech pastry, also received the Czech name. Originally Czech words are also kukuruz for corn, horseradish (horseradish literally translated "the root!)" For horseradish and of course the powidl. ("Powidltatschkerl from beautiful Czechoslovakia, taste much better than the finest bakery!" [17]. Sung by Peter Alexander [18].) Outside the kitchen there are of course also examples, such as Tuchent, Bussi and the farewell Baba (comes from the Czech, ie is not a corruption of the English bye-bye, as is often believed) pomalu, for leisurely, slow) is no longer used very often, but was still very popular 60 years ago! The same applies to haluschka, cooked noodles tossed in lard that are served salty or sweet. Klobasse (Klobassi in Czech) is coarse, spicy Sausage is known to every Viennese, but no longer to every Tyrolean! Matschker (a pulpy, unsavory mass) also comes from Czech.

Some words that we perceive to be original German also come from Slavic languages: border (from Russian / Polish "granica"), cucumber (from Polish "ogurek"), whip from Polish "bicz" or quark from Polish "twarog".

The influence of Slavic is of course particularly great in Vienna. As a non-Viennese, everyone who buys gooseberries instead of Agraseln, sour cherries instead of sour cherries (Croatian: visnja) and apricots instead of apricots (Croatian: marelica) comes out. Dalli, dalli is not exactly the Viennese type, but comes from Polish for fast; Tachinosis / tachnitis means doing nothing, the origin is Polish or Yiddish. Brimsen (sheep cheese) comes from the Slovak brinza. A typical Viennese / Austrian word like Jause is also a loan word from the Slovenian juzina. But we also borrowed the word chaste from Slovenian, as well as Klapotez, a rattling noise-making wind turbine in vineyards to scare away birds: Here, the reverse applies that there are words that Viennese often do not understand.

(I owe some of the examples to the work of Rafal Marek [19])

Perhaps the best examples of loan words from Hungarian are pancakes (Hungarian palacsinta) (synonyms in Germany, since the word is not known there, are pancakes, omelets or pancakes) and goulash (Hungarian gulyás, as they say, shepherd's stew based on meat, den there are in different forms). In the newspaper "Die Welt digital" [20] in 2008 the word clumsy was awarded. It comes from the Hungarian Talpas for "clumsy infantry soldier". In the same source, Engel (!) Is also distinguished from Greek and explains that Greek and Latin (often via other languages) resulted in "German" words, often peculiar mixed forms such as “automobile”, from auto (Greek for self), and mobile (Latin for moving). “Tohuwabohu” for “disorder, mess” from Hebrew / Yiddish is one of the loanwords that were awarded at the time.

Words used primarily in Austria (and Berlin) come from Yiddish, such as Tacheles (serious), Zores (problem) or Pahöl (dispute, excitement, noise), Chutzpah (audacity), Beisel (German: pub), Ezzes (advice) , meschugge (crazy), Schmonzes (nonsense) and schofel (low). These words are hardly known outside of Vienna.

Originally Yiddish words such as rip-off, boiled out (refined), jitter (fear), wealthy, smell (good), crook, hose, big-headed, haberer, kaff (small village), kapores (broken), gravel (money), kosher (are Food that is allowed), Maloche (hard work), junk (worthless stuff), Reibach (profit), haggle (engage in unfair trade), slaughter (ritual slaughter), mess (unhappiness), slurping (flattering), cuddling (being tender) ), Schnorrer (beggar, beggar musician), Stuss (nonsense), Zoff (dispute) are understood almost everywhere in the German-speaking area.

(The division into the two groups is only based on my experience, but not scientifically founded.)

5. Comparison of some Austrian and German words #

There is a German synonym for countless Austrian words, so only a few examples can be mentioned here.

In fact, in many cases, the German versions are beginning to dominate. This is due to three facts: First, much more is published in Germany than in Austria; secondly, Austrian publishers want to sell in Germany too, which is why editors at publishers consciously replace Austrian wording with wording that can also be understood in Germany; Thirdly, tourists from Germany are an important economic factor, which is why, for example, menu cards must also be understandable for Germans. Potato with potatoes, cauliflower with cauliflower, chanterelles with chanterelles (for which there are different expressions even in Austria, such as "Recherl" in Styria, "Füchsling" in Carinthia, "Röhrling" in Burgenland, etc.), Pancakes, boiled beef and fried potato soup can be replaced by an explanation (or the fried potato soup by the southern German Flädlesuppe), tomatoes, currants with currants, whipped cream with cream, etc.

But also in everyday life there are synonyms, such as bucket (German: bucket), gutter (German: eaves), Fahrrad (Swiss: Velo), go (German: run), Stanitzel (German: Tüte), Feber (German: February ), Budel (German: shop counter), Wimmerl (German: Pickel), Kukuruz (German: Mais), Schnackerl (German: Schluckauf), Kluppe or Klupperl (German: clothes peg), Häferl (German: cup), Spagat (German: Cord), gruesome (German: disgusting), Spennnadel (German: Stecknadel), sauce or sauce (German: Tunke), etc.

It is problematic when supposed synonyms are not synonyms. For example, I considered chair to be a German synonym for armchair. Then I was once told that both words exist in Germany: Only armchair describes a simpler piece of furniture without a backrest, a chair a more comfortable, probably upholstered one with a backrest, which in Austria would be described as a sofa armchair, armchair or similar.

Both originally German and loan words have changed their meaning over the years. “Cool” no longer just means “cool”, but rather something like “great”, especially among young people, and differs little from the new meaning of “cool” (“great!”).

While I was a professor in Germany I once wrote to a ministerial director (that's what the ministerial councilors are called there) to remind him of an agreement. I wrote something like: "I kindly ask you, as agreed, ..."

My German secretary “saved” me: “Requests” sounds threatening in Germany (“if you don't do that, I'll kill you”, so to speak), while “requests” can be used in Austria!

As an aside, it should be mentioned that many words have different spellings and other deviations. For example, in Austria we write Weidmann or birschen, in Germany Waidmann and stalking, to take two arbitrary words from the hunter's language.

6. Anglicisms #

The list [21] contains over 2,000 English words that are now used in the German language. It must suffice here to cite a few typical examples, whereby I only choose examples that are so well-known that an explanation is superfluous and I have only considered a few from the flood of technical expressions. Account, action, adapter, aftershave, air conditioner, airbag, airline, airport, apartment, football, baby, bar, barbecue, bestseller, blackout, blue jeans, bodyguard, brandy, browser, buddy, bulldozer, boomerang, bungalow, call center, camp, Cartoon, China-town, Chip, Cocktail, Computer, cool, Cop, Couch, Cowboy, Cruise, Cursor, Date, Deadline, Design, Discounter, DVD player, E-book, Eggs and Bacon, Entertainer, Event, fair, Fantasy , Farm, Fast Food, Festival, Finger Food, Fitness, Flipchart, Flirt, Freak, Gentleman, Gin, Grapefruit, Greenpeace, Hamburger, Handicap, Highlight, Hobby, Hotdog, Hotline, Hotpants, Hype, Insider, Interview, Jackpot, Job, Junk food, lady, laser, lifestyle, live, lobby, love, mail, management, marketing, match, Mister (Mr.), mob, monster, motel, mountain bike, multiple choice, networking, NGO, notebook, offshore, orbit, Outlaw, party, picnic, pin-up, playboy, popcorn, porn star, pub, sweater, quiz, radar, rafting, ranger, recycling, review, revolver, roadshow, Rowdy, safe, saloon, sandwich, check, science fiction, secret service, selfie, sex, sherry, shitstorm, shrimp, show, sketch, smartphone, spray, star, steak, steward, story, stress, tattoo, T- bone steak, team, teenager, thriller, ticket, toaster, in top shape, tourist, training, tutorial, UNO, update, vamp, vintage, volleyball, whiskey, windsurfing, workshop, worldcup, yankee.

It is curious that some terms in Austria are denoted by an English word that does not even exist in Englsih. The best example is Wohrl the "mobile phone" (smartphone): If we use this word abroad (also UK or USA) we are not understood!

Many of the words or phrases no longer remind us that they come from English. For example, no one would have understood “around the clock” 60 years ago, because it was later translated into German from “around the clock”. Conversely, many words were adopted into German without changing the spelling.

The latter is probably also related to the fact that there is no state institution (authority) that is legally responsible for the German language (or its Austrian or Swiss version). De facto, this role is essentially played by the private company Duden in Germany. At least there are the legally recognized spelling rules developed by Duden [25]. When it comes to the admission of new words, however, the situation is more vague. The following applies: (quote from [24]): “Year after year, many new words flow into the German language. And when they are accepted into the Duden, they also become official after a kind of "probationary period". It is thanks to a native of Wesel that this is registered at all: Konrad Duden, who died 100 years ago ”. In fact, an impressive 5,000 new words were added to the Duden in 2017, for which the Duden has been criticized in the media. Some typical words are:
Politically / historically motivated: refugee crisis, lying press, traitors, welcoming culture, post-factual, hate crime, vicious poem, fake news, drone attack, headscarf dispute, Brexit.
Fashionably or colloquially motivated: work-life balance, low carb, urban gardening, road trip, spoil, rumble, ripped off, foolishly, toddler stuff, choke down, junk level
Technologically motivated: selfie, selfie stick, tablet, social bot, pixelated, data glasses, emoji, liking, cyber war, facebooking, becoming friends.
The Duden now contains 145,000 headwords, the original version from 1880 had 27,000. A small number of Germanized spellings that have not prevailed have been dropped: E.g. Now only mayonnaise is permitted again, mayonnaise no longer.

As far as I know, the claim to be the sole guardian of the language as Duden is not legally guaranteed.

Ten years ago one wrote in the Hamburger Abendblatt [22] against the increasing spread of "Denglisch". Here is a somewhat abbreviated quote: “The sensible use of naturalized foreign words is accepted. Nobody would think of Germanizing the computer or turning the gasoline engine into a four-stroke bang. But when the weather frogs on ZDF sell their speakers' meteorological excursions as "weather on tour", one can ask why the campaign was not called "weather on the go" ”.

Latin book. Photo. H. Mason
There are several organizations in Germany that deal with the language, such as the German Language Council [23] or the German Language Association [26], which was only founded in 1997: “The aim of the association is not least that so-called Denglisch, the mixture of German with English, to warn ”, but these organizations only have a recommending and advisory function.

In Austria there is the “Mutterssprache” association which plays a similar role

The Austrian dictionary, online version [27], in which the Austrian vocabulary is summarized, was initiated by the Ministry of Education in 1951 and since then has been the official set of rules in Austria above the Duden!

It is noteworthy that the development of some languages ​​is more clearly anchored in law than German.

While Latin, for example, is only used now and then as a living language at Catholic masses, it is officially being further developed. For this purpose, Pope Paul VI. 1976 the Latinitas Foundation, which endeavors to create a Latin that is appropriate for modern linguistic usage. To this end, it publishes, among other things, the Lexikon des Neulateins, which appeared in its last revision in 2004 with 15,000 new terms, including the Latin word for "computer": instrumentum computatorium.

Maori is similarly but more firmly anchored in law in New Zealand: There is a separate government agency for this, the Maori Language Commission [28], which ensures that new words are incorporated into the language in a suitable form.

7. Loans from other languages ​​#

In section 4 it was explained that goulash comes from Hungarian. That is true, but the Hungarian has put the word together from the Turkish / Arabic words Kul (= low soldier) and Asi (food)!

All in all, many German words have their roots in Arabic, but many words have migrated into German via another language and, conversely, got into Arabic via other languages ​​(such as Sanskrit or Greek).

For example, the Sanskrit word for “sweet” became the Arabic “sukkar” from sugar. Chemistry first got into Arabic via the Greek “chymeía”, then into German.

Some examples of the many words that came into German via other languages ​​but originally came from Arabic are for example: "Admiral", which was adopted via French, but originally comes from Arabic "amīr" (commander), "Arsenal", which came into German via Italian, but goes back to Arabic “dar ṣināʿa” (for factory or shipyard), “Giraffe” from originally Arabic “zurāfa” (the lovely one) and which came into German via Italian, “mattress” via Italian from Arabic “Maṭraḥ” (floor cushion), saffron from the Arabic “az-zaʿfarān” (crocus) in Spanish. The fact that “alcohol” comes from the Arabic “al-kuhl” in Spanish may be particularly surprising given the rejection of alcohol in Islam. Of course there are countless other examples [40].

There are also many words that came straight into the German language from Arabic (sometimes via Turkish). Here are just a few selected examples [40]: Bedouin from badawī (desert dwellers), hashis from ḥaschīsch (grass, herb), discount from rabṭ (to fix), Sahara from ṣaḥrā (desert), sofa from ṣuffa, digit from sifr (zero ), Nadir from naẓīr as-samt (symmetrical opposite the zenith), etc.

However, Arabic (Turkish) begins to change the language further due to immigration in Austria: the tone of voice changes, articles are left out, etc. This is where the schools are in demand: we do not want an increase in Denglish or Turkish in our language, I believe.

I deliberately did not go into the enormous influence of (ancient) Greek and Latin on German, because that would be a separate contribution and has little to do with the effects of new technology.

I also omitted the fact that individual words like sauna from Finnish, tamarind as well as jungle and sari from Hindi, curry from the Tamil word kaṟi, pajamas from Urdu, bamboo from Indonesian baṃbu, Himalaya from Sanskrit, khaki from Persian, copra from Malay, etc. come from completely different languages, but their number is comparatively small.

8. Technical terms and pars pro toto #

The German language is and is constantly being expanded with technical terms.

In the technical area, the influence of English predominates. For example, you cannot teach computer science without using English words continuously. Many of these words have also migrated into the normal non-technical language, such as computer, software, hardware, testing, hard disk, USB stick, switches, priority queue or the World Wide Web as a few of the hundreds possible examples.

As medicine and pharmacy have evolved, new names and words have emerged there, many of which are based on Latin or Greek. For example, angina pectoris comes from the Latin “tightness of the chest” or oncology from the Greek “onkos” for swelling.

New words are particularly widespread in the field of food or groceries, because today a lot is offered that ordinary mortals simply did not know 60 years ago: This ranges from fruits such as mango, kiwi, rambutan, papaya, etc. to vegetables such as sweet potatoes or bamboo shoots. This is particularly clear with food and dishes: 60 years ago not only the burgers or hot dogs coming from America were unknown, but also French fries, or the many types of Italian noodles, but also pizza or exotic dishes from the Chinese, Japanese, Korean or Thai cuisine did not gradually emerge until after 1950. In addition, there was the influence of the Mediterranean countries, with fasolada, dolmadakia, mousaka, gyros, tzatziki, doner kebab, pljeskavica, baklava, couscous, humus; or the many seafood such as calamari, squid and mussels.

The above examples make it clear how much technical developments (increasing networking) have also changed language. While this is often due to new media, communication channels, networked computers and the Internet in the field of technology and loan words, it becomes clear with the dishes that the transport and traffic technologies brought new things to us and that travel was responsible for the strong internationalization.

It is noteworthy that the brand of one company is sometimes used for an entire branch, although the stability of such new words is very different: In 1908, the Sanitas company brought out the first hair dryer under the model name Fön, which has now become synonymous with this type of device . (The brand was taken over by AEG in 1957). The term hair dryer, based on the warm fall wind of the hair dryer, has been around for over 100 years.

The first photocopier was developed by Xerox, from which the word "xeroxen" for "copy" originated. When I recently asked a younger employee to xerox a few pages for me, he stared at me blankly.

9th spelling reform 1996 #

The main objective of the 1996 reform of German orthography [29] was to simplify orthography in German-speaking countries. From 1994 onwards there was fierce fighting over many details of the reform, until the third revision in 1996 (which was still rejected by hundreds of writers and scholars at the Frankfurt Book Fair) was finally introduced by the Federal Constitutional Court on July 14, 1998, the reformed spelling rules (per Education Minister Decree) has been declared lawful for schools. Nevertheless, in Schleswig Holstein, followed by Bavaria, it was decided to return to the old spelling. Large publishing houses also announced this. In spite of this, the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs decided by a large majority in September 2004 to stick to the date for the binding introduction of August 1, 2005 and to only carry out improvements in individual areas.

Overall, even years later, the majority of Germans were against the reform: Unfortunately, the reform has resulted in more wild growth than simplification. The case of Austria is typical: Here the Austrian dictionary adheres to the new version, so it is mandatory for schools and authorities, but many Austrian media use house rules instead of the official spelling. The situation in Switzerland is also mixed.

A special feature is that in Switzerland the “sharp S”, meaning ß, has been abolished (replaced by ss). It is particularly curious that in Germany (and Austria), on the other hand, a new letter for the capitalized ß was only introduced in July 2017 [30]. The article [31] describes the innovations of the spelling reform.

As explained in the introduction, the spelling reform doesn't really affect this post because it's not about changes made by technology. You could also say: unfortunately. Because then the ß would have been abolished as in Switzerland and examined whether the umlauts were really needed, which in the international network lead to major financial burdens for Austria. Many rules (such as the hyphenation) would have been chosen in such a way that they can be reproduced in the program. Because when separating a word I have to separate according to its content like a guardroom. For example, whether I mean guard room or wax tube. But it is precisely this content-related separation of words that is only possible in terms of programming if we can teach computers to fully understand language!

But the Commission has not dealt with such considerations. As a good friend of mine, a member of the Commission, told me, working on the Commission was an exercise in frustration because of the clash of so many opposing opinions. I will only mention one more aspect: some wanted to write words as they are spoken, others according to their origin. Because of the origin of chamois, after the 1996 reform, chamois are now written, not chamois, as I was still learning to do.

Robert Sedlacek [37] reports in extracts on the peculiarities of Austrian German and regularly in a column [38] in the Wiener Zeitung.

10. Short messages #

Most of the changes in language and language understanding have come from electronic communications, especially short messages such as Twitter and SMS.

The limited number of characters on Twitter and the writability and legibility of SMS means that short statements and many abbreviations are used.

Brabazon [33] was the first to prove, on the basis of extensive tests, that the ability to read comprehensively and to write longer coherent essays in young, strongly Internet / smartphone-oriented students was massively declining. Mark Bauerlein supports this in his book "The Dumbest Generation" [32], and I myself discuss the problems in detail in the spectrum article [34].

Attempts to counteract this in school classes in Graz were only partially successful [35].

Abbreviations such as "good4U" (good for you), "U2?" (You too?), "10MIN2LATE" (10 minutes too late, ie I am delayed by 10 minutes), "2L8" ( too late), "4e" (for ever), "8ung" (attention), "AKLA?" (All right?), "BB" (see you soon), "BBB" (see you soon, baby), "BIDUNOWA" (Are you still awake?), "BIGBEDI" (I'll be with you soon), "BRADUHI?" ( Do you need help), "BSE" (I'm so lonely), btw (by the way = by the way), cul (see you later), "DAD" (think of you), "EDV" (end of reason), "ff "(To be continued)," HEGL "(congratulations)," j4u "(just for you)," sz "(write back)," t + "(think positively), etc.

In addition to these few abbreviations (of the approx. 800 that are floating around) there are also emoticons, from simple symbols composed only of characters (above) to small graphics (below).

Emoticons, graphic: H. Maurer

The large number of abbreviations and emoticons explain that a teacher desperately called me recently when a student gave him an essay with illegible abbreviations and characters!

There is no doubt that almost a new language is emerging here, a primitive form of MIRACLE [13] without observing all the rules for well-researched concepts such as orthogonality and cartoon design or other guidelines known from semiotics.

Examples of an image from a symbolic language by H. Maurer and N. Scerbakov with three levels of abstraction [13]
A good overview of SMS abbreviations and emoticons can be found at smszeichen [36].

11. Summary #

New media, computers, the Internet, new transport and traffic technologies, but also migration movements and politics have strongly influenced our language and paint the ghost on the wall that the written language as we know it (neither in its form nor its practical meaning) may not survive, as Edwin Baumgartner [39] speculates. How should we react to that?

12.Literature #

[4] Leuten-habt-ihr-sie-noch-alle/10980540.html
[5] Marius Jung: “Everyone Can Sing - Handbook for Negro Friends” Carlsen Verlag, 2013
[7] Brockhaus TRUE. The German spelling. Published by the WAHRIG editorial team. 8th edition. Wissenmedia Verlag, Gütersloh / Munich 2011
[8] Duden: Newsletter of January 7th, 2011 Address both sexes correctly
[9] Otto Back, Herbert Fussy (ed. On behalf of the BMUKK): Austrian dictionary. On the basis of the official regulations. 41st edition. ÖBV, Vienna 2009, p. 861 (chapter rules, section punctuation: "12 The slash (/)")
[10] Hermann Maurer: Grass on the moon or women in all committees! Fric Vienna, 1992. Read it at:
[11] Hermann Maurer: Theory of Syntax, BI pocket book 404, Bibliographisches Institut Mannheim, 1969
[12] Benjamin Lee Whorf: Language, Thought, Reality, rororo, 1968
[13] Hermann Maurer et al: MIRACLE: Multimedia Information Repository, A Computer-supported Language Effort; JUCS 9: 4 (2003): 309-368
[15] Marleen Mussner: Development and Fate of French in the Mirror of Arthur Schnitzler's Writings, Present Verlag, Vienna, 2006
[17] Powidltaschkerln are something pyramidonal:
[32] Mark Bauerlein: The Dumbest generation; Penguin (2008)
[33] Tara Brabazon: The University of Google; Ashgate (2007)
[34] Hermann Maurer: Does the Internet monitor, brutalize, threaten and dumb down us? Computer science spectrum vol. 36, no. 6 (2013), 536-547
[37] Wissenssammlungen / Essays / Österreichisches_Deutsch and Wissenssammlungen / Austrian German