From Kaiser to cheese and biology — the etymology of German phrases – DW (English)

August 19, 2022 By admin

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The German phrase “Kaiser” is Latin by origin, “capital” and “bankrupt” are Italian, and “biology” is Greek. A brand new guide affords insights into the evolution of the German language.

Languages are alive, they modify
“The German language is well-traveled, well-connected and blissful to maintain up with the instances — it’s a prime instance of profitable integration,” the authors of “The Extraordinary Historical past of Our Phrases,” revealed by the Duden publishing firm, write within the new guide’s preface. Certainly, language purists may rub their eyes in amazement when studying what number of phrases entered into the German language not simply in Europe, however from everywhere in the world. 
Researchers have came upon that the unique proto-German language originated round 8,000 BC in Asia Minor. It later developed into what is named Indo-Germanic: at this time, about half of humanity speaks a language that goes again to it. Germanic as such didn’t crystallize till the second millennium BC in northern Europe, the place totally different tribes shaped a cultural group with the same language.
In the middle of time, they migrated southward and inevitably met the Romans. The Roman Empire was a sophisticated civilization on the time, and the Germanic peoples picked up many achievements and strategies, together with the Latin terminology, which was assimilated.
Caesar grew to become “Kaiser” in German
What’s presumably the oldest loanword from Latin goes again to Gaius Julius Caesar, the Roman basic who conquered the Gaul area (at this time’s France and Belgium) within the first century BC. The phrase “Caesar” for the ruler grew to become “Kaiser” (emperor). The Romans had been ingenious builders, too: “Mauer” (wall) from murus and “Fenster” (window), from the Latin phrase fenestra, additionally entered the Germanic language. The Nordic tribes ate and used the phrases for the numerous delicacies the Romans introduced with them, together with “Kirsche” (cherry, Latin ceresia), “Zwiebel” (onion) — the Romans known as the vegetable cepulla —, “Käse” (cheese, Latin caseus) and “Wein” (wine, the Latin is vinum).
In flip, the Romans borrowed phrases from the Greeks, who had been extremely developed and eloquent in on a regular basis tradition, philosophy and literature. And so, by way of Latin, historical Greek phrases had been later typically adopted into Germanic or German, together with “Kirche” (church, Greek kyriakon) and “Biologie” (biology, Greek bios and logos).
The Germanic tribes, nonetheless, had been removed from having any type of unified language. The tribes spoke Frankish, Alemannic or Bavarian; Latin was the church and administrative language and — to make the confusion full — there was a mixture of all languages.
German retailers had shut ties to Italy
Within the thirteenth century, the bourgeoisie, with its crafts and trades, grew to become extra highly effective. Their shut ties with Italian retailers led to the adoption of a fantastic many phrases from Italian within the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Folks went to the financial institution (banco: lengthy desk of the cash changer), deposited their capital (capitale) there and hoped by no means to go bankrupt (banca rotta — the cash changer’s damaged desk).
German retailers had shut commerce relations with the Orient, too — phrases together with espresso, alcohol and sugar originated in Arabic. Within the sixteenth century, ships introduced items from the newly found America — indigenous phrases like chocolatl and tomatl grew to become Schokolade (chocolate) and Tomate (tomato).
Martin Luther’s 1522 translation of the Bible into German had the best affect on the event of the German language on the time. The reformer tried to jot down in a fashion that was clear and comprehensible. He “checked out folks’s mouths,” as he put it. Because of Johannes Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press round 1450, Luther’s bible was extensively distributed. The language of science, nonetheless, remained Latin — German dialects had been deemed vulgar.
Germans tried to repeat the French lifestyle
After France gained the Thirty Years’ Warfare (1618-1648) and expanded its supremacy in Europe, French grew to become the colloquial language for the higher social courses. German was spoken solely by commoners, craftsmen and peasants. And even they’d use the odd French phrase, like parquet, rendezvous and wardrobe, to look educated.
Seventeenth-century language purists had been against the flood of modern overseas phrases. On August 24, 1617, the primary language society was based in Weimar, named the “Fruchtbringende Gesellschaft” (Fruitful Society). Its members had been firmly satisfied {that a} decline within the language would inevitably endanger native customs, virtues and traditions. 150 years later, poets who had been revered overseas, together with Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich Schiller, helped the German language blossom once more. However even they used overseas phrases and phrases.
The Industrial Revolution offered an entire new chapter of phrase creations. The French time period “industrie” that initially meant “diligence, industriousness” took on a novel that means.
The commercial revolution introduced change, and new vocabulary
Karl Marx’ and Friedrich Engels’ criticism of capitalism adopted on its heels, together with phrases like communism (from communis: widespread), proletariat (proletarius: member of the bottom class) or socialism (socialis: social).
Folks in Germany more and more resented not having a unified nation-state — however not less than, so the pondering went, they might goal for a typical language. Chairs for German Research had been established at universities within the early nineteenth century. Language guides together with the Grimm Brothers’ 1854 German Dictionary and the 1880 Duden Spelling offered orientation.
In 1871, the German Empire was based, however nonetheless, overseas phrases slipped into the language. When the Nazis seized energy in 1933, they turned again the clock and prevented overseas phrases. Some phrases had been stylized, particularly “Volk” (folks). The “folks as an entire” took priority over all else, everybody needed to serve the “folks’s welfare.” Most Germans owned a Volksempfänger hi fi and individuals who might afford it purchased a Volkswagen.
After World Warfare II, the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic, West and East Germany respectively, had been based in 1949. Once more, language mirrored realities: West Germans admired the American lifestyle and lots of English phrases discovered their approach into the language, together with administration, make-up and LPs. East Germans resorted to Russian phrases like “dacha” (small nation home) and coined ideologically influenced phrases like “staff’ and peasants’ state” and “anti-fascist protecting wall” (for the Berlin Wall).
Most German households owned the inexpensive Volksempfänger (folks’s receiver) radio
Political, social and technical developments had been mirrored within the language over the next many years, from the autumn of the Berlin Wall to recycling in instances of local weather change. The pc age, too, has given Germans quite a few on a regular basis technical phrases that had been unthinkable within the Eighties: from browser (to browse) to obtain to e-mail.
The brand new Duden guide factors out that folks anxious in regards to the German language ought to understand that it has lived in peaceable coexistence with overseas phrases for hundreds of years. “Our previous girl the German language lives solely in line with the motto ‘You by no means cease studying’ and demonstrates a stylistically assured perspective,” in line with the guide. “Whereas the vocabulary is present process a really dynamic improvement, the grammar demonstrates stability and perseverance and takes even daring new creations underneath its structuring wing.”
This text has been translated from German.
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