Keeping you current

The German Language Adds 5,000 New Words

The latest edition of the Duden dictionary includes tindern, or online dating, and postfaktisch, meaning post-truth

(imageBROKER / Alamy Stock Photo)
smithsonian.com

The 27th edition of the Duden, the dictionary considered the ultimate arbiter of the German language is out and the book contains 5,000 new additions to the Deutsche vocabulary, reports the German Press Agency. Among the new words are many derived from English, sure to fan the flames of critics who say that the publishers are allowing too many Anglo words into the dictionary.

Among the new words added to the 1,264-page reference book are many that stem from the current political climate, including Flüchtlingskrise, meaning refugee crisis, postfaktisch, meaning post-truth, as well as Brexit. Kopfkino, another new addition, means “mental cinema” or “daydream,” a word that seems like it must have been a major oversight for a language that enjoys such specific words as wildpinkler (someone who likes to urinate outside).

Deutsche Welle reports that along with politics, technology has pushed more English words into the German lexicon. Anglicized words added to the Duden include emoji, selfie, tablet, darknet and veggie. “Cyberwar” has entered as Cyberkrieg and online dating is called tindern.

The dictionary is unapologetic for cribbing words from other languages. “It’s simply a fact that many things in our lives are coming from the Anglo-American area, for example when one thinks of technical developments,” the dictionary’s managing editor Kathrin Kunkel-Razum tells the German Press Agency.

In 2013, after the launch of the Duden’s 26th edition, which saw the advent another 5,000 new words like der Babyblues, Kreditklemme (credit crunch), and das It Girl, critics were not happy with the slow creep of English into the language. Jeeven Vasagar at The Telegraph reports that the Verein Deutsche Sprache, a society dedicated to protecting the German language, was particularly upset by some imports and suggested the dictionary give preference to German. For instance, Vasagar reports, the society opined that that klapprechner be prioritized instead of “laptop.” But the makers of Duden argue that they do not determine how German is spoken and written by the public. Instead they simply reflect its current usage.

And the list of new words, Anglicized and otherwise, is growing rapidly. In 1880, when the dictionary debuted, it included 27,000 entries. Now it boasts 145,000 words. 

About Jason Daley

Jason Daley is a Madison, Wisconsin-based writer specializing in natural history, science, travel, and the environment. His work has appeared in Discover, Popular Science, Outside, Men’s Journal, and other magazines.

Read more from this author |
Tags

Comment on this Story

comments powered by Disqus