Tim Bowen helps you avoid any angst and indulge in some linguistic wanderlust with these words from the German language.
The concept of schadenfreude (enjoyment in the misfortune of others) is, of course, not unknown in English but there is no English word for it, although ‘gloating’ comes close. Similarly, an unspecified feeling of worry is commonly referred to in English as angst, the German word for ‘fear’ or ‘anxiety’. Many thousands of English words are related to German, for example, stone/Stein, hound/Hund and snow/Schnee. There are, however, some German words that are used in English because there is no actual English equivalent. There are numerous words associated with food and drink. Perhaps the most notable is delicatessen, although the letter ‘c’ has replaced the ‘k’ in the original German. It is unlikely that one would purchase a hamburger (nothing to do with ‘ham’ but ‘from Hamburg’) in such an establishment, but one might acquire some sauerkraut (pickled cabbage) or perhaps some stollen (a fruit cake commonly eaten at Christmas), accompanied by a glass of spritzer (white wine mixed with soda water).
There is the increasing use of the prefix über- (German for ‘over’) to mean ‘an extreme example of a person or thing’ or ‘to a great or extreme degree’ as in über-model, über-fan, über-famous and über-cool.
Outdoor types with a keen wanderlust (desire to travel) probably carry a rucksack (backpack) and, if they venture up mountains, may need to abseil down (use ropes to descend more rapidly). Children often attend kindergarten before they begin primary school and politicians sometimes refer to realpolitik (politics based on practical ideas rather than moral ones).
Teaching tip: ask learners to use a search engine to find further examples of German words used in English. Have them present their findings to the class. Ask them which word is the most interesting and why.
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