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German Words of French Origin



Jim Tent brings up the question of the effect of military occupation on the vocabulary of a language: "The French impact on the German language in earlier times is often assumed to be a matter of course. Usually, it occurred because of French cultural, diplomatic or political dominance. However, sometimes it resulted from daily people-to-people contacts during military occupation. When Prussia succumbed to Napoleon's armies at the twin battles of Jena and Auerstedt in 1806, a French army of occupation settled upon that state and most specifically Berlin for the next seven years. The Berliners adopted a number of new words in their daily vocabulary, words that are still extant, and are decidedly "Berlinerisch". For example, a youung Berlin shopper today might refer to a particularly attractive article of clothing as being "totschick!" This derives from the French "tout chic." Other expressions linger on as well".

RH:
The classical case is the occupation of England by the Normans, giving rise to a double vocabulary, e.g. cow/beef, sheep/mutton. Likewise the Russians who occupied Paris after Napoleon's defeat demanded quick meal service, hence the French slang word "bistro". The US/UK occupation of Germany after World War II had an impact on German vocabulary.

Ronald Hilton - 10.26.03


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