It may be Germany’s answer to the Oxford Dictionary, but the respected Duden Sprachewörterbuch has now been awarded a national bogey prize for wrecking the Teutonic language by including English words such as “shitstorm”, “app” and “Facebook”.
The linguistic slap in the face for the German-speaking world’s most revered dictionary was administered by the respected, yet often fastidious, Association for the German Language, which campaigns vigorously to protect and promote spoken and written German.
The association formally awarded Duden its annual sprachpanscher, or “Language adulterer” prize, on Monday, claiming to have identified the dictionary as a work that actively strove to legitimise the use of anglicisms in German.
Walter Krämer, the association’s founder, justified the award at a press conference in Dortmund, where he took Duden’s editors to task: “Whoever suggests in a dictionary that the alternative word for fussball [football] should be the pretentious anglicism called “soccer” deserves this award.”
The association accused Duden of encouraging people to use anglicised German words known as “Denglish” rather than their proper German equivalents. In particular, it referred to anglicisms that had crept into the German language, which it claimed could be easily avoided.
The use of everyday English words now common in German such as “stalker” and “laptop” were strongly rejected. The association said the terms should be replaced by their German alternatives nachsteller and klapprechner, although both words are rarely used.
The award follows Duden’s controversial decision to include the American word “****storm” in its 26th edition, which was published in July. The first recorded use of that word in German was in 2010.
Other English language additions to Duden were the words “social media”, “flashmob”, “app” and “Facebook”. German has yet to develop Teutonic equivalents for such terms.
Duden was quick to reject the association’s criticisms. “We don’t invent the language, we merely try to reflect it objectively,” a spokeswoman said.