'Ich google' - German dictionary gets a cyber-update

29th November 2004, Comments 0 comments

29 November 2004, HAMBURG - 'Ich google, du googelst, wir googeln' - I google, you google, we all google. Now native speakers of German who frequent the Google internet search machine will have an authorised word to describe what they do online - "googeln" - thanks to the 23rd Edition of the Duden dictionary of the German language which has just hit bookshops. At 1,152 pages, the venerable Duden, first published in 1880, is viewed as the definitive authority for the world's more than 100 million speakers o

29 November 2004

HAMBURG - 'Ich google, du googelst, wir googeln' - I google, you google, we all google.

Now native speakers of German who frequent the Google internet search machine will have an authorised word to describe what they do online - "googeln" - thanks to the 23rd Edition of the Duden dictionary of the German language which has just hit bookshops.

At 1,152 pages, the venerable Duden, first published in 1880, is viewed as the definitive authority for the world's more than 100 million speakers of German. And the new 23rd edition has hundreds of new entries, largely based on cyber-space.

"Google" has been given the stamp of approval by Duden's staff of linguists and field researchers. "Downloaden" means "to download". "Das Fotohandy" is now the proper word for a camera mobile phone.

And for the first time, an accompanying Duden CD-Rom offers instruction in how to pronounce all these unfamiliar new words. "Google" for example is pronounced "'gu:gl", and definitely NOT "'go- glee", according to Duden.

"Schurkenstaat" has also made it into the new edition, "schurke" meaning "rogue" and "staat" meaning "state". Those are the countries that the US State Department now prefers to call "states of concern" - a term which has yet to debut in the pages of Duden.

German society has undergone many changes in the wake of unification in 1990, and the new Duden reflects many of those changes: "Homoehe" is the approved German word for "gay marriage". "Genmais" is the generic term for "genetically modified crops".

"Alcopops" are those "flavoured alcoholic beverages" so popular with young club-goers. "Minijobs" are the sorts of part-time employment you end up taking to make ends meet after being laid off from full-time work.

And if you still have a job, even at reduced pay, you may have to settle for a vacation trip on a "billigflieger" - a "cheap flight". But beware of in-flight service on those cheap flights. The flight attendant, or "saftschubse" (juice shover), can be a real "zickenalarm" - loosely translated as "dumb blonde alert".

And on arrival at some sunny beach, you can get out your "flipflops" (flip-flop thong shoes) and play the role of "Der Latin- Lover" - which needs no translation.

But all those new words have been upstaged by a host of old German words which are the focus of a fierce debate in Germany. At issue is recommendations by a panel of state cultural-affairs bureaucratic officials to reform the spelling of a couple of hundred words.

The proposed spelling changes, including changing "delphin" (dolphin) to "delfin" and "philosophie" (philosophy) to "filosofie", are already being taught in public schools throughout the country.

But with polls showing a whopping three-quarters of all adults hate the spelling reforms, major authors and big newspaper publishing houses have baulked at using the new spellings.

Two influential publishing houses in Germany representing some 60 percent of newspapers and one of the biggest news magazines have vowed to abandon the new writing style, introduced six years ago and until now generally used by all publications.

Experts from eight European countries are due to meet in Austria later this month to discuss ways of defusing the crisis, which has taken on political dimensions.

But the Duden dictionary staff is taking the whole debate in stride, and there were never any plans to delay publication of the 23rd Edition because of the spelling furore.

"The German language, like all languages, is a living entity that grows and changes," said Duden head Matthias Wermke in unveiling the new dictionary.

"In the 23 editions of our dictionary, we have seen words come and go," he added. "We have seen linguistic fashions come and go. And we have seen rules for spelling words come and go. The only language where nothing changes is a dead language."

DPA

Subject: German news

 

0 Comments To This Article