Monday, 12 August 2013

Do you have a beamer handy? Kreisiä bisnestä!

But German does something insanely more evil: It takes words from other languages and uses them for its own evil purposes, not caring at all about what the words used to mean in the language of origin.

Take for example this device - a projector:

At some point the German language need to find a word for it. Something that sounds dynamic and cool. Like "beamer". That's a perfect word for it, because a beamer is something or somebody that beams...

Or this:

Hey, let's call it "kicker", since it seems to be an underused word.

Or is this some kind of a counter-attack to the rest of the world calling it "foosball" (from German "Fußball")?

But evilest of them all is this:

"Handy"! Why? Why? A perfectly valid English word kidnapped and abused by German. And not even a noun. But we can make it a noun (laughter).

These readapted English words also cause Germans and other German speaking people to make silly mistakes when speaking English. They can also be used for confusing sentences: "Do you have a beamer handy, or a kicker?"

I admit that I have accidentally said "handy" in an English conversation (with Germans though) when I meant "mobile". I felt so German. Almost like saying "become" instead of "get" (bekommen).

But Finnish is not innocent either: we regularly take English words and either mispronounce them horribly or write them horribly wrong (to make the pronunciation right). The Finnish pronunciation is fundamentally different from the English pronunciation (basically, Finnish is pronounced like it's written, whereas English is pronounced exactly the opposite way).

So we take words like "business" and write it "bisnes" or "crazy" and write it "kreisi", so that when these are read aloud, they sound approximately like the original words but with a rally driver accent (*). But at least we keep the meaning intact! Or take the washing-up liquid "Fairy"-  we pronounce that "fairy", yes, with "ai" (as "ye" in "bye") and "y" (as ü in German or "ew" in "new" in some versions of English).

(*) Please watch this video. It will help you to 1) understand my obscure accent when I speak English 2) how we Finns (do not) communicate.

Next I just need to find a video reference which will help my friends understand why I don't hug them. After 2 years in Germany it's getting a bit awkward.


  1. I actually don't find 'beamer' so bad, because it produces lots of beams of light, thus it is a beamer ;)

  2. ABICT "Kicker" is not an import of the English noun, but a derivative of the adopted (loanword) verb "kicken". The primary meaning of "kicken" is 'to play football'. (Here I disagree with - ime the 'to kick something' meaning is far less widespread.)

    So "Kicker" really is only a homonym to the English "kicker".

    For "beamer" actually lists the 'data projector' meaning, but several of the names on the quotations sound suspiciously German ...

    (And of course that Finn is not a *rally* driver.)

    1. Duh - my wictionary link is not visible:

      Input (non)escaping in comment forms is always good for a surprise....

    2. Good point! But do you pronounce "kicker" the German way (as it would be pronounced if it was derived from kicken) or the English way?

      The only time I heard it aloud, the German in question was speaking English, and used "kicker" as if it was the English word for the game (so, pronouncing it the English way).

    3. well the line between German and English pronounciation for the word Kicker is very thin and mostly lies in the way you form the 'e' if its clear its German, if its dull its English, so unless someone really has no slang at all, its hard to tell