Leading article: Let them speak Deutsch

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Sprechen Sie Denglish? The German transport minister thought that far too many of his compatriots did, and so he banned the use of all English words from his department. Over the past year, his staff have had to find German equivalents for those oh-so-convenient English terms that have seduced so many around the world.

His Verbot applied to such transport essentials as "ticket", "meeting" and "laptop". It made his staff peculiarly bilingual. It forced them to use words such as Klapprechner, which was far beyond most Germans' ken, and it made Herr Ramsauer into something of a star (as his staff wouldn't be allowed to put it in Denglish).

While we sympathise, of course, with the minister's drive to restore the language of Goethe and Schiller to its proper place in Deutschland, we cannot but feel a measure of Schadenfreude, knowing that his efforts will be in vain. Germany's Jugend will be as fluent in Denglish as our Filme and our Rockmusik, not to speak of our Klapprechner, encourage them to be.

When all is said and done, though, there is one phrase the minister outlawed for which Denglish was surely made. Fairplay on the Autobahn: in either English or German, that has to be a contradiction in terms.

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