Tag: German

Placeholder names in English and other languages

Just your average Svensson: placeholder names in English and other languages

If you follow politics, you will have noticed that politicians often invoke the cliché of the ‘man in the street’. You may have heard them referring to the average Joe, Joe Bloggs, John Public, Joe Sixpack, etc. when talking to an audience, addressing everyone and no one, rather than someone in particular. The English language […]

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pies and cakes in English idioms

Pies and cakes in English idioms

It is assumed that the word pie came into English via Old French, from Latin pica ‘magpie’, which in turn is related to picus ‘green woodpecker’. Here, the allusion is perhaps to the various combinations of ingredients of a pie being comparable to the objects randomly collected by a magpie. Its sweet equivalent, the cake, on the other […]

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German Compound Words

Words with a perspective: German compound words

A few years ago, it was reported that German had ‘lost’ its longest word – the 63-letter monstrosity Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungs- aufgabenübertragungsgesetz. The cause of this ‘loss’ was a law change in the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern: in 2013, the ‘beef labelling supervision duties delegation law’, as is the term’s literal English translation, was officially repealed, thus rendering its name […]

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flags

What will be 2015’s most popular language?

Everyone seems to have a favourite language, for one reason or another. However, it is impossible to have hard data on this matter since this preference is very subjective. Bab.la is a sister site to OxfordDictionaries.com, and the bab.la Language World Cup was launched in 2013 to find out which are the favourite languages of […]

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pregnancy test

Pregnancy metaphors from around the world

Pregnant was something of a metaphor when it first started being used in relation to a baby. Its earlier meaning (which is still in use) was ‘full of meaning, highly significant’, and the word pregnant began being used as a synonym for the more self-explanatory term with child. There are plenty of historical synonyms for […]

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food

12 food idioms in other languages

Because there are so many food-related idioms in other languages, coming up with this list was a piece of cake for us – or a ‘bread roll with butter’ as the Polish would say. If these examples aren’t enough to whet your appetite, you can add your mustard in the comment section below. 1. Mind your own […]

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Zeitgeist

8 German words in English and their pronunciation

When one language borrows from another, words often adapt to the linguistic conditions of the recipient language. This is also the case with the German loanwords that have entered the English language. In German, nouns are always capitalised, but in English, they might end up following the lowercase rule. Some might even change their definition […]

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German Unity Day

Do East and West Germans still speak a different language?

Read a German version of this text. On 12 September 1990, about ten months after the Fall of the Berlin Wall, the foreign ministers of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) and the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) met with their French, American, British, and Soviet counterparts in Moscow to sign the so-called Two-Plus-Four Treaty. This paved […]

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