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Monday, July 19, 2004

Denglish Translator

German language of today is filled with English words. This is especially the case when people try to come off as modern, like in advertising (where there is always need to lift simple concepts up into the higher realms of quasi-complexity). More often than not there are reasonable German words that could have been used instead of the word in “Denglish” (or “Denglisch”), as it is called. Here are some examples of Denglish: new economy, content, chat, webmaster, style, comeback, surround sound, sale, kids, cash, fashion. Mostly, as you can imagine, this Denglish sounds rather ridiculous.

Now if Denglish sounds like an expression of an open-minded attitude of German people – let’s all learn a foreign language – in general the opposite is true in Germany. For example it’s impossible to see American movies in their original language on television, as they are all dubbed. Also, many people are shy to speak English even though all Germans have to learn it from 10 years on until at least 16 years of age. Even in the Foreign Department (or Alien Office, as it calls itself) in my hometown Germany I once some years ago experienced that the lady working there was not willing to talk English. And you might think she was paid for helping foreigners. Even more funny (or sad) was when I found out the guy who handled the applicant forms for the introductory German language course in a local school was not able to speak English.

So no, not everybody speaks English... or Denglish. Even the people writing Denglish realize this once in a while. In an introduction to a translation guide for Germany’s biggest Internet provider we can read that (translated from German) “like any other innovative medium the Internet has its own and very special language.” Mind you this translation guide comes as accessory booklet to an installation guide which uses so many English words (like download, chat, desktop, homepage, email, newsletter, or link) that it needs to have its own dictionary. (Consequently the guide has the English title “Easy Finder”.)

And if Denglish sounds like a great way to teach Germans more English, as there seems to be a need – well, Denglish has its own rules which won’t help much in real English. For one thing, words won’t stay the same they are in English. The verb “to download” might become “gedownloadet”, as in “Ich habe das gedownloadet” (I downloaded something). I remember in school my biology teacher put a strike-through on my word and wrote a corrected version to the side; and my “recyclet” became “recycelt” (the German equivalent to the English “to recycle”, by the way, would have been “wiederverwerten”). And then there are some words which don’t exist in English, or exists in a different usage; like “oldtimer”, which in Denglish means “vintage cars” as opposed to old people. So Denglish manages to make two languages look stupid within single words – quite powerful indeed!

Out of respect for both English and German, which are beautiful languages with a history (and certainly brothers in that history), I created a program to automatically translate semi-hip Denglish back into plain old-fashioned German. The Denglish translator lets you enter any URL or a piece of text and voilĂ  (excuse the French) an instant translation is on its way.


The new Gtransfer promises to move your Hotmail emails to Gmail. This service costs you $5 for three months and requires you to pass on your Hotmail login.

Blog Was Down

This site was unavailable from Thursday to Monday.

What happened? I switched my bank accounts because I moved from one city to another. My host failed to retrieve money from my old account and cut off my servers after mailing complaints to my old address. Of course this was the most unfortunate situation for me.

Sites that went down along with this blog (and are now back up) were FindForward, Authorama, Netpadd, OpenTrivia, and QML. Email sent to could not reach me as well.

I set up a temporary replacement blog, but knew it would be next to impossible for anyone to find it. So now all I could do was wait and hope for things to come back (of course, I immediately paid after I realized what happened, so I knew it could only be a matter of days).

The irony in all this is Google Blogoscoped (the front-page) got removed from Google itself.

Google Voice Search

Briefly available via Google Labs was the Google Voice Search. It’s currently shut down again.

Three New Gmail Features

There are three new features from Gmail:


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