Why this forum speaks English and not German

125 posts in this topic

OMG! It's Monday, and this thread has already gone bonkers.

Ich glaube, es macht für mich persönlich keinen Sinn mehr hier weiter mitzumachen. Wenn ich deutsch reden or besser gesagt schreiben will, gibt es besseren Blogs wie dieser!

Tschüß! ;)

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8 hours ago, LeonG said:

It's also relaxing to switch to your own language after a hard day of work. Not that English is mine but it's still better than my German.

 

Likewise. When I have to, I can write in German (with help from various dictionaries and a sneaky translator now and then), but I find it laborious and a chore. Not for fun.

 

7 hours ago, yourkeau said:

This is the point of this thread. Why a Iceland man and a Ukrainian communicate in English, and not in Spanish, Portuguese, or German? 

 

Because of the Nazis, even though this was so long ago. 

 

I think you are really overstating things. Realistically, there was little chance that German was going to be a world language. An important language in the sciences niche, maybe. It is true that Germany was for a while a world leader in scientific research, especially chemistry and physics. German was also influential in continental Europe, certainly. Due to various German-speaking migrants into Eastern Europe and Russia over the centuries, German was popular as a second language in some areas, but that's about the extent of it. Already from the First World War, backlash at the German Empire and Austria-Hungary had reduced the prestige of German. The Second World War delivered the knock out punch (also Hollywood). I still hear everyone's worst angry nazi impression when i visit home and say that I live in Germany.

 

Meanwhile, Anglo-American colonial history and military hegemony (as el_jeffo pointed) spread English even more.

 

7 hours ago, MikeMelga said:

It won because it is a poor language (as opposed to rich languages), therefore simple and unambiguous.

 

I agreed with you up till here. English is a very rich language, and it's not a zero sum game anyhow. Portuguese is beautiful (I know that's subjective, but I find it so) in a way English isn't, I will grant you that.

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7 hours ago, MikeMelga said:

Well, I always say to my colleagues that Portuguese or Spanish is a much more important language than German, as outside DACH it has zero importance.

They are not too thrilled with that idea and don´t actually accept it.

 

I think the main reason that German is not important is because it is not a simple language to learn and even within Germany each dialect reduces its value.

English won not just because of US. It won because it is a poor language (as opposed to rich languages), therefore simple and unambiguous.

What is a poor language? English has a massive vocabulary. Massive and adaptable because there is no controlling panel of maestros saying “ this word is not pure French, Spanish etc.” Which rich languages are you referring to?

English has an advantage- none of this der, die, das crap!😂


And a useful argument in life : “ English is easy.”

” Ach ja, so why is YOUR English so crappy?”

😂

 

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8 hours ago, El Jeffo said:

Sorry, but that's a bit of a stretch, to say the least.

 

We communicate in English on this forum because Bob says so. Toytown is a forum for English-speakers in Germany.

 

The increasing global creep of English (and American pop culture) is due to American global hegemony post-WWII through the 1970s (plus that whole British Empire thing, of course). Much of the rest of the world has taught English as the first foreign language - if not the first language - for generations. That isn't something that gets reversed overnight.

Because Jimi Hendrix was an English-speaker! Good enough for me!🙏🏻😂

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18 minutes ago, john g. said:

What is a poor language? English has a massive vocabulary.

Well, poor does not mean bad. For example, less declinations or less gender dependency. But also less adjectives, simpler phrase structuring.

 

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Than Portuguese, that's for sure :D

Unfortunately I can't find a number of adjectives in Portuguese, but from my knowledge of both languages I would say Portuguese has far more adjectives. It's also a national hobby to make up adjectives.

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"English is the easiest language to speak badly."

              George Bernhard Shaw 

 

Learning English, students rather quickly reach a level where they can make themselves understood. Basic sentence structure, forming past tenses and future etc. can be achieved in a pretty short period of time. Once you have mastered that, you don't sound like an idiot all the time any more. In a lot of other languages, genders of nouns, declination and conjungation, weird formation of tenses make that a lot harder. It takes much longer to achieve such a level. 

 

Unfortunately, that leads to a lot of people thinking English is an easy language. But in the end, mastery of it is just as hard as in most languages. Sometimes harder because people tend to content with less. Since so many people speak English and make themselves understood, they think that is enough. For communication, that is true. But just because people understand what you mean doesn't necessarily mean you don't make mistakes. 

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18 hours ago, MikeMelga said:

Well, I always say to my colleagues that Portuguese or Spanish is a much more important language than German, as outside DACH it has zero importance.

They are not too thrilled with that idea and don´t actually accept it.

 

I think the main reason that German is not important is because it is not a simple language to learn and even within Germany each dialect reduces its value.

English won not just because of US. It won because it is a poor language (as opposed to rich languages), therefore simple and unambiguous.

There is of course the Muhlenberg issue, a myth for sure but one with a kernel of truth. But for the toss of a proverbial coin German could well have been the world´s "official" language and not English.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muhlenberg_legend

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10 hours ago, maxie said:

"English is the easiest language to speak badly."

              George Bernhard Shaw 

 

Learning English, students rather quickly reach a level where they can make themselves understood. Basic sentence structure, forming past tenses and future etc. can be achieved in a pretty short period of time. Once you have mastered that, you don't sound like an idiot all the time any more. In a lot of other languages, genders of nouns, declination and conjungation, weird formation of tenses make that a lot harder. It takes much longer to achieve such a level. 

 

Unfortunately, that leads to a lot of people thinking English is an easy language. But in the end, mastery of it is just as hard as in most languages. Sometimes harder because people tend to content with less. Since so many people speak English and make themselves understood, they think that is enough. For communication, that is true. But just because people understand what you mean doesn't necessarily mean you don't make mistakes. 

Basically, when you know enough of a language to get into trouble but not enough to get out of trouble!

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18 hours ago, kiplette said:

 

 This was already in place way before the Nazi era. Colonialism and the fact that spoken English is not desperately complicated seem to be the main factors. 

 

Spanish is also very widely spoken. German never really had a proper shot at it, and the decision was done long before the first half of the last century.

 

Colonialism was not only an English achievement. However, there was no influx of scientists from Europe to Latin America, this is why we don't speak Spanish (a much easier language for non-native speakers to learn). 

 

One little example from my field: Walter Kohn, one of the fathers of Materials Science, Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1998. Born in Austria to a Jewish family. As the Germans came in 1938, he was transferred to the UK and then Canada (Kindertransport). After the war got a professor position in the USA. 

 

For those who did not bother reading the article and ridiculed this thread: do try. Those who forget history will repeat the same mistakes over and over again.  

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15 hours ago, JG52 said:

This is the first time I've seen a thread for which Godwin's Law can be applied to the first post.  Well done!

First, Godwin's law is the comparison of the random event to what Nazis did in Germany in 1933 (such as, Covid-19 government policies criticism).

 

Second, Godwin's law is not 

1. Discussions of historic events such as in this thread, in particular consequences of what Nazis really did. 

2. Comparisons of certain policitians to Hitler if justified.

 

Mike Godwin himself said that it is ok to compare Trump with Hitler if you can argue, why. 

Quote

To be clear: I don’t personally believe all rational discourse has ended when Nazis or the Holocaust are invoked. But I’m pleased that people still use Godwin’s Law to force one another to argue more thoughtfully. The best way to prevent future holocausts, I believe, is not to forbear from Holocaust comparisons; instead, it’s to make sure that those comparisons are meaningful and substantive.

 

I think nobody here denies that those scientists who flew German would otherwise land in the KZ. So, no Godwin's law here.

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49 minutes ago, yourkeau said:

So, no Godwin's law here.

 

Saying that "Toytown speaks English because Nazis" definitely invokes Godwin's law. And no offense, but it's pretty fucking stupid, too. I understand the point you're trying to make, but you're making it badly.

 

Yes, Germany suffered a big brain drain due to the pogroms and the Holocaust. But that had nothing to do with German failing to become a lingua franca.

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English's global reach and lack of a central standardizing body also means that it's much more open to people who speak it less-than-perfect. The fact that it is grammatically easier, and that its spelling and pronunciation are schizophrenic, allow a massive amount of variation, so it's an easier language to get comfortable with, and finally communicate well with. I also love the fact that we don't need those damned accent marks.

 

Using the nazis as an example might work better to explain why it was slightly easier for English to become the language of scientific cooperation, rather than why it is spoken by the most people. Sure, it contributed, but I think it's prior global reach due to the misanthropic British and Americans is the biggest reason. And because it's easier :)

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1 hour ago, yourkeau said:

Colonialism was not only an English achievement.

 

Yup, hence I mentioned Spanish, which we may not speak, but a truck load of the world's population do, because of colonialism.

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That is of course the reason all the major languages are spoken across the planet! Same goes for French, Portuguese, Arabic, Russian, Chinese etc. 

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The US was dominant industrially and technologically even before World War I.    Some people argue that it was in a leadership position even as early as 1890.  

 

After World War I, and well before the Nazis had any real power, US dominance was recognized by all.

 

An influx of brainpower never hurts, but the people fleeing Europe in the 1930s and 1940s for the US were not the critical factor in its rise.

 

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 I find this thread hilarious. Why the deep interpretation. If this forum was in German I probably would have not benefitted from it a couple years ago when I knew no German. Besides, it is kind of nice to communicate in English as it is much easier to express emotions and ideas (at least for me it is). 

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