It’s summer and that means BBQ and hamburgers! But before that, we’re going to talk about another language that has had a huge influence in English: German. And yes! you guessed it! The word hamburger comes to us directly from that beautiful European country.
You may or may not know, but English -and German- are Germanic languages. And yes, many words in English have Latin or Greek origins, but the ones that make up its core are Germanic. The fact that English and German share the same root makes it easy to see how both languages are similar. You may argue that they sound completely different or that you don’t understand anything in German, but take a minute to take a closer look. You will be surprised by how many words you actually do understand, even if the spelling is a little different. For example take trinken. Say it aloud. Any guesses? It sounds very very similar to drink, right? How about wasser? Even if you don’t know the way it is pronounced, you can sort of make out that it’s water.
Just like the words borrowed from Spanish and French, many of the German words are related to food. We already mentioned hamburger, but have you had a bratwurst lately? Maybe a yummy berliner or an apple strudle (Apfelstrudel)? When borrowing, some words are modified a little when they are used in English. For example from kitschig to kitsch or kitschy, März to March, Kindergarten to Kindergarden. Others almost remain the same like finger or hand or are pronounced the same like Sohn and son and Maus and mouse.
What do you think? Interesting, right? If you know any other words that come from German, we’d love to hear them!
Mariana Aguilar Ramírez
Mariana is a Pedagogy and Research summer associate at Voxy completing her Master’s degree in Learning, Media and Technology at UMass Amherst with a Fulbright- García Robles grant. She is passionate about instructional design, educational technology and has been teaching ESL in Mexico for many years. She has studied foreign languages all her life and is now tackling German. She loves to travel and spends a lot of time in the kitchen perfecting her ice-cream making skills.