The origin of the word Handy (das)

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I think most native English speakers are a bit taken aback when first confronted with the German word Handy. We know it variously as mobile or cell phone amongst others. But the germans have taken an English adjective meaning useful or convenient and created a German noun. I've asked german friends and colleagues about the history of the word, but nobody seemed to have a good idea from whence this word came.

 

Like many words of foreign, and especially English, origin it has simply become eingedeutsched and accepted. It is no more of a curiousity to germans than the the verb managen's past participle form "gemanagt."

 

A lazy Sunday of surfing put me across a mention of the Motorola HT 220 Handie Talkie which prompted a quick google. It turns out the word Handy comes to German from English after all. In fact, it seems to come from Motorola's Handie-Talkie.

 

The Handie-Talkie was introduced during the Second World War by Motorola as a handheld successor and companion to its already successful Walkie-Talkie (or "breaky-backy" as it was known to the troops) - a backpack based radio transmitter.

 

It seems this image of the American GI with his Handie-Talkie took hold in Germany and the usage has been around ever since. It has been used for various mobile radio devices from companies like Bosch and Siemens either as Handie or Handy.

 

So the next time the topic comes up, you can confidently inform your German colleagues of the origin of the German usage of the word Handy for a wireless radio. An advertising exec in Chicago invented it for Motorola in 1940 and it's been knocking around Germany since its arrival with U.S. Forces.

 

If you read German, more can be found here and here.

 

If you're generally interested in germanized english words, the Verein Deutsche Sprache maintains a list of them here.

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one thing on that index of germanized english words, I find really interesting: the word "kicker"

 

I always wondered why the table soccer game is called "kicker" here and "fussball" in the states?..

 

anyone know the answer to that one?

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What's also interesting is that they misspell the word. Although spelling it the English way, the way they pronounce it means there should be an Umlaut on the 'a': Händy (Haendy).

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STB, that's just a pronunciation phenomenon.

 

Not heving zet sound in zeir own lenguage, ze Chermans substitute one zat's easier to make.

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It's not a "germanized [sic] English word" but quite simply "Scheinanglizismus" as English speakers would not use the word "Handy" for a mobile phone. Motorola started the trend, but the word clearly originates from the German adjective "handlich", with roots in "die Hand", both also spelled without an "ä", ironically itself with origins from Old English.

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STB, that's just a pronunciation phenomenon.

 

Not heving zet sound in zeir own lenguage, ze Chermans substitute one zat's easier to make.

Don't have that sound in their own language? What, you mean like 'Hand' 'Hannover' 'Hamburg'?

 

Funnily enough, they tend to do this in Bedfordshire. A bloke I worked with used to get really irritated at being called 'Elf' by his boss.

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Don't have that sound in their own language? What, you mean like 'Hand' 'Hannover' 'Hamburg'?

And don't forget Hans!

 

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It's not a "germanized [sic] English word" but quite simply "Scheinanglizismus" as English speakers would not use the word "Handy" for a mobile phone. Motorola started the trend, but the word clearly originates from the German adjective "handlich", with roots in "die Hand", both also spelled without an "ä", ironically itself with origins from Old English.

Actually, if you read the links, what you are stating is what seems exactly not to be the case.

 

While Handy coming from handlich is the standard explanation, the link between Handie, Handy and wireless devices goes back much further and seems clearly to be related to the Motorola Handie-Talkie. Etymology is, of course, not an exact science. I would not claim that the hypothesis is definitive, but it's definitely supported by a solid amount of evidence and the handlich->Handy origin hypothesis is relatively unsupported. I would assume that the existence of handlich merely helped the uptake of the word Handy in German.

 

As a side note, the -ized is standard american English variant of the -ised ending found in british English and your [sic] is not really necessary, except for the fact that you tend to be unnecessarily and often unjustifiedly pedantic in your posts.

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As I said...

Motorola started the trend, but the word clearly originates from the German adjective "handlich", with roots in "die Hand"

sic adv. Thus; so. Used to indicate that a quoted passage, especially one containing an error or unconventional spelling, has been retained in its original form or written intentionally.

Unconventional to me, of course... I also take the opinion that you can't steal a language, modify it and call it correct.

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If you're generally interested in germanized english words,

There's no problem with the -ize ending, but the lack of capital letters (should be "Germanized English") are cause for a [sic].

 

But this is a moot point; thanks for the interesting post IS.

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As a side note, the -ized is standard american English variant of the -ised ending found in british English and your [sic] is not really necessary, except for the fact that you tend to be unnecessarily and often unjustifiedly pedantic in your posts.

 

sic adv. Thus; so. Used to indicate that a quoted passage, especially one containing an error or unconventional spelling, has been retained in its original form or written intentionally.

Unconventional to me, of course... I also take the opinion that you can't steal a language, modify it and call it correct.

Case in point. Whether or not you like it is irrelevant. The fact that there are 300 million people in the world who disagree with you makes it quite conventional.

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A bloke I worked with used to get really irritated at being called 'Elf'

Nor arf as pissed off as Aynuch n Ayli are gerrin.

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Something I heard on Alster Radio here in Hamburg this morning...

 

Background: They have the Quiz 'Battle of the sexes', where a male and female phoner-inner take turns at answering questions biased to the opposite gender.

 

Host: Which well-known cosmetics company is often associated with the principle of not testing its products on animals?

Man: ...errrrrr...errrrrrr...Estee Lauder?

Host: No, The Baddy Schapp.

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" Handy kein Schnur nicht ? " !

I think the actual wording is more like "hän die koa Schnurr nitt"

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