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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".

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