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What do you know about the words you use. Do you really know the American language and the words that make it up. Today we present the sixth program in a new series on the American language by Medford Matthews. Mr. Matthews is editor in chief of the Dictionary of American isms published by the University of Chicago Press and is a lecturer in linguistics at the University of Chicago. Today's program is on the German contribution. Mr. Matthews. In considering the German words that have been taking over American English it is natural to think of them in comparison with the Dutch borrowings that have already been mentioned although more Germans than durch have come to this country. The number of German words that are passed in the English used here is not as large as that of the Dutch words that have been appropriated. Of all the Europeans who in her lifetime made settlements in what is now the United States the better problem of the mamba old who at the outset. Did not
contemplating giving up their language to learn that of the English settlers. When the Dutch came to New York in sixteen hundred and they brought their language with them and they used it at first with no thought of ever having to learn English what they had in mind was a New Holland in the new war where over a considerable area Dutch speech Dutch customs and Dutch culture would prevail. The same difference in attitude marks the Dutch off from smaller European groups such as the Swedes and other Scandinavian peoples who have come to this country with a full realization that they would have to merge into the existing situation and among other things adopt the prevailing language that is English. This was the situation with the Germans. They knew from the beginning that they would have to learn English for it was the Gorn language of the new country. It is true that in parts of
Pennsylvania where they were the dominant nationality they retained their German dialect which some of them still you. But in the main the Germans in our population have learned English. Still the number of German words that have been taken over and the English in this country is considerable and well worth attention in considering them. It is well to keep in mind that they may be divided into those expressions that came from what may be called German proper and those that have come by way of what is usually though erroneously referred to as Pennsylvania Dutch. This way of speaking of the Germans in Pennsylvania has come to state but under its influence many people will continue to have an impression that the Pennsylvania Dutch are somehow from Holland. After all it is well also to bear in mind that since German and Dutch are closely related
languages it is difficult sometimes to say whether a word came into English from the want. Are there other of them. Often the geography involved in the earliest appearance of a term in English gives assistance here. For example Burma meaning the soft shoulder of a road might have come from either language easier for it appears in both German and Dutch but the earliest evidence for it in American English is from the Pennsylvania area where it was used at first in the sense of the back of a canal opposite the towpath. The likelihood therefore is that it came in from German rather than from Dutch. We are on somewhat more solid ground with reference to Bauer which appeared in American English more than a hundred years ago as the nine for one of the two highest cards in certain games such as you are.
This must come from a German word meaning the naive in car. Dutch has the same word in the same sense of a naive and cards. But it is spelled and pronounced differently from its use in cards. The word has come to be employed in such expressions as he was the president's right by our m number of words taken from German have to do with eating and drinking delicatessen came over straight from Germany and it's now widely used. The first part of this word was not German originally being one of those taking into German from French but the evidence showed clearly that it was from German not French that we took the term Frank Furter is another term belonging here. This German word relates to the city of Frankfurt in Germany in
recent years those of the younger generation who are in too great a hurry to use all the words frankfurters have thrown away half of it and speak a funny ass. Wienerwurst is another of the words we have borrowed from German. The first element in this term is the adjectival form of the M and the second is the common German word for sausage. It happens however that what we call of yellow sausage is not quite the same thing as a winner or as it is sometimes called a weenie. In fact the distinction between Frankfurter and Wiener and Vienna sausage is based chiefly on size and can be learned best by experience. Hamburger is another German barley but its makeup is more purfling than bad of any of the terms already mentioned.
It is natural to suppose that it may be related somehow to the city of Hamburg but there is no clear indication that it really is there. There is available in many parts of the country dark heavy bread slightly less sour made of unbolted raw it is not universally popular but the name of it pumpernickel is a more than usual interest. The Germans themselves did not know how to account for what the basic meaning of it is though they have used it from 16 6 to 3 at least the same words. So you have been used even earlier in the sense of allowed or a boob such bread has always been associated especially with West played here on Englishmen during that part of German that 200 years ago commented on this unusual kind of Brit saying that it was quote and as black as a coal.
End quote. And he mentioned that even at this early date they were calling at pumpernickel knew the boy and not a word has ever passed into the English of England but for more than 100 years Americans have been familiar with pumpernickel German cooks in this country originated at least one day and the name they gave it has skull has color scholars considerable difficulty. The name for this new food product has been and still is various less space but there seems to be a can of soda settle down on punk calls. P o m h s. That's good enough for all practical purposes. The dish is said to have originated among the Germans in Pennsylvania and the urge back of the invention was the the Czar on the part of frugal Housewives not to waste any of the nutriment contained in the liquor in
which meat has been bore as a liquid. This byproduct could not be used but it occurred to the German housewife to thicken it with flour if she had it. And with corn meal if she could do no better one experiment led to another and the product as it is now prepared has chopped meat especially tidbits from the head of a freshly killed pork or stirred him and cooked with the corn meal our flour in the basic liquor. Another main part of the resulting preparation is scrapple. It is too bad that scrapple though it is an American term for an American beer is not of German origin and hence does not come within the scope of this discussion. It is derived from scrap or word in the language. Germans and their friends in this country have enjoyed pumphouse for a
long time before scholars were able to come up with a suitable explanation of the origin of the word it said. One of the first efforts to get sense out of the expression was to explain that the early English settlers in and around Philadelphia made a dish resembling scrapple with the meat of rabbits as a baby and that they call this day pan rabbit since it was cooked in a pan and consisted largely of rabbit. According to this theory when the Germans took over the mine impound rabbit they translated it into a fund raiser which in due time after having been spat out I'm in a different way it shows up the word palm Hoff's in use today. The view that now prevails however is that while German cooks in Pennsylvania originated the dish in question. They brought the money for it from Germany in that part of
Germany and known as the platinum from which many of the Pennsylvania Germans came to this country. There was in use in earlier time the word punk ass that is Pan rabbit. This was the name given to him a substitute day and was often applied to one consisting of scraps and leftovers chopped fine and cooked in a Pan Am lacquer roasted hire in Dusseldorf pan hoss won't want use for Buckwheat meal cooked in the broth. Poor poor had been bought. The influence of Germany on American education is in some terms that we have taken over from that language. In the latter part of the past century German was the country to which Americans most often went for hard study. It is not surprising therefore that they brought back with them to do it and they use hear certain terms
relating to educational procedures at the higher level. In most American colleges and universities the academic area is divided into two parts of approximately equaling which we call semesters in modern use. This term has various meanings and different screw but the usual meaning is that just matching a meaning it has had an American usage since at least eighteen eighty one out about which time it was first brought over from Germany. Along with semester we have a seminar which is used with reference to a group of students usually graduate students doing research under a professor with whom they meet from time to time for instruction and discussion seminar appears to pass them to American news as a direct borrowing from German about the time American students who had been to Germany were introducing that word here. Students from England
who had studied in Germany were introducing it into the language of Great Britain. The most prized degree in this country is the Ph D. That is the Doctor of Philosophy degree. It might not be too much to say that higher education revolves around the Ph.D. degree so far as we are concerned. Germany is the home of this degree and it was from a bio that our scholars of former times brought it and its name to this country for some reason. The degree has never become as well established in England as it has over here. The degree which outranks all others in England is and has been that a beat. Of course other degrees are known and granted there too but no other has the standing and prestige of the old reliable Oxford or Cambridge a B. At least one of the words which American student brought back from Germany and sought to do is enter the American
system of higher education. Failure to thrive. That word was docent meaning a lecturer or a teacher. It got off to a good start in Boston in 1890 and traveled as far west as the University of Chicago by 1915 but after that it will they did and nothing has been heard of it for a long time. You have heard Mitford Matthews and a talk on the German contribution. This is the sixth program in the series the American language. Mr Matthews is editor of the Dictionary of American isms and Luxor and linguistics at the University of Chicago. This program was produced in the University of Chicago radio office by Thomas de Paris. This is the end I ybe tape network.
American language
A German contribution
Producing Organization
University of Chicago
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
The sixth program in this series discusses the influence of German upon American English.
Series Description
A series of talks by Mitford Mathews, editor of the Dictionary of Americanisms and lecturer in linguistics at the University of Chicago.
Broadcast Date
German language.
Media type
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Producer: Parrish, Thomas (Thomas D.)
Producing Organization: University of Chicago
Speaker: Mathews, Mitford M. (Mitford McLeod), 1891-1985
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 54-8-6 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:14:40
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Chicago: “American language; A German contribution,” 1954-01-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed December 8, 2023,
MLA: “American language; A German contribution.” 1954-01-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. December 8, 2023. <>.
APA: American language; A German contribution. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from