Language Creep

Billboard in Munich

On my many walks through the village and nearby city of Munich, I see American English creeping into advertising through billboards, trucks, and placards. You would not find these words in the “official” Duden. The advertising world seems to be unphased.

According to Wikipedia: “The Duden is a dictionary of the German language, first published by Konrad Duden in 1880. The Duden is updated regularly with new editions appearing every four or five years. As of August 2017, it is in its 27th edition. It is printed as twelve volumes, with each volume different aspects of the German language such as loanwords, etymology, pronounciation, synonyms, etc. The Duden has become the preeminent language resource of the German language, stating the definitive set of rules regarding grammar, spelling and use of German language.”

In America everyone is at liberty to publish a dictionary. Again according to Wiki: “Webster’s Dictionary is any of the dictionaries edited by Noah Webster in the early nineteenth century, and numerous related or unrelated dictionaries that have adopted the Webster’s name. ‘Webster’s’ has become a genericized trademark in the U.S. for dictionaries of the English language, and is widely used in English dictionary titles. Merriam-Webster is the corporate heir to Noah Webster’s original works, which are in the public domain.”

The word “everyone” should be taken literally. According to Wiki, the “Urban Dictionary is a crowdsourced for slang words and phrases, operating under the motto “Define Your World.” The website was founded in 1999 by Aaron Peckham. Originally, Urban Dictionary was intended as a dictionary of slang, or cultural words or phrases, not typically found in standard dictionaries, but it is now used to define any word, event or phrase. Words or phrases on Urban Dictionary may have multiple definitions, usage examples, and tags. As of 2014, the dictionary had over seven million definitions, while about 2,000 new entries were being added daily. Many definitions, though, are merely jokes or offensive statements and are fake.”

A half block from our apartment I ran into this placard on the sidewalk outside an optic shop, optik in official German. It confused me at first. The word “funk” is in the Urban Dictionary as: “A state of undesirable emotions or feeling out-of-sorts. These feelings may include but are not limited to: sadness, boredom that is unusually difficult to curb, laziness, unworthiness, and an overall feeling of malaise.” What has this to do with an optik shop?

I found out later the word “Funk” refers to Dieter Funk, the well known maker of frames for glasses in Bavaria. Oops! and “My bad” — from the Urban Dictionary: “I did something bad, and I recognize that I did something bad, but there is nothing that can be done for it now, and there is technically no reason to apologize for that error, so let’s just assume that I won’t do it again, get over it, and move on with our lives.”

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A snowbird from Bavaria

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Michael Frankel

Michael Frankel

A snowbird from Bavaria

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