Borrowed German words

coffee-night-heaven-theme-destruction-2Angst, Weltschmerz, Weltanschauung – used to impress. I blame Freud.

Spiel, ersatz and uber– are all used in a slightly ironic manner.

A spiel is a long, insincere speech with an aim to persuade or manipulate. It is not capitalized, because we don’t do that with nouns.

Ersatz is an adjective meaning “replacement” or “substitute.”

Uber has no umlaut, because there’s no way we would manage it. I certainly can’t pronounce “ü” properly and I’ve been here yonks. Tragically it seems to have gone out of fashion already. I quite liked it, and I am now uber-inconsolable.

The following three bear testimony to what the Germans do best: organizing young children, going for walks in the country and – er – sneezing.

Kindergarten – is used in North America for “preschool” (which is actually “Vorschule” in Germany).

Gesundheit! – used in the USA, but most other English speakers say “bless you”, when somebody sneezes.

Rucksack – also called backpack or knapsack or packsack or …. Whatever, it’s what we wear on our back when we love to go a-wandering along the mountain track.

Language is culture!


This post first appeared in a longer version here:

These are a few of my favourite words


  • Coralyn

    Smart thnkinig – a clever way of looking at it.

    • Helen Waldron

      Thank you, Coralyn!