What Goethe Didn’t Know

Eleven curious items from the world of the German language which even Germany’s most famous poet, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, would not have known.

Source: Deutschland Magazin

Abwrackprämie

Goethe wouldn´t have known that...

...the Wiesbaden society chose the word “Abwrackprämie” as the “2009 Word of the Year”. It describes the environmental bonus paid for scrapping an old car.

Behoerdensprache

...What Goethe wouldn´t have known...

...the word “Grundstücksverkehrsge­nehmigungszuständigkeits- übertragungsverordnung”, a term from the world of red tape, could have a record number of 67 letters.

Gigaliner

Goethe wouldn´t have known that...

...new words like “Gigaliner”, “Regenbogenfamilie” or “Zwergplanet” could one day exist. These are three of more than 5,000 new words included in the 25th edition of the Duden.

Kiezdeutsch

Goethe wouldn´t have known that...

...Kiezdeutsch would become the multi-ethnic language of young people, mixing Arabic and Turkish words with German and thus giving rise to a new dialect: “Lassma Viktoriapark gehen, Lan.

Rechtschreibung Duden

Goethe wouldn´t have known....

...words like “Ohrwurm”, “Fahrver­gnügen” or “Baggersee” might ever exist and even become the German language’s “export hits”. They are an indication that other languages also may use German as a treasure trove should they be missing a suitable term themselves.

SMS_Abkuerzungen

Goethe wouldn´t have known that...

...the letters WAMAWIHEAD and BIGLEZUHAU indicate the ability to say as much as possible with as few text message characters as possible. The text message abbreviations stand for: What will we do this evening? I’ll be home right away.

Sprachauskunft

Goethe wouldn´t have known that...

...under the telephone number 9001-888128 you can reach the Gesellschaft für Deutsche Sprache in Wiesbaden, a society from which you can receive information on all questions relating to the German language.

Deutsche_Sprachinseln

What Goethe wouldn´t have known...

...that there is such a thing as Belgrano-German in Argentina, Texas-German in the USA, Deutsch-Mokra in Ukraine, Küchendeutsch in Namibia and Unser Deutsch in Papua-New Guinea. German-speaking enclaves exist on almost all continents.

Woerteranzahl

Goethe would not have known that...

...the German language has between 300,000 and 500,000 words. Thus the German word-pool ranks between French (100,000 words) and English (600,000 to 800,000 words).

Wortschatz

Goethe would not have known that...

...the active vocabulary of an average German is estimated at some 12,000 to 16,000 words, although most Germans understand up to 50,000 words without any difficulty.

Baggersee

Goethe would not have known that...

...words like “Ohrwurm”, “Fahrver­gnügen” or “Baggersee” might ever exist and even become the German language’s “export hits”. They are an indication that other languages also may use German as a treasure trove should they be missing a suitable term themselves.

What Goethe Didn’t Know

Goethe-Schiller-Denkmal in Weimar