Denglish, Franglais, Germish, and Spanglish – English words find new life across the globe

Lesson: How English words evolve in other languages

Last time we discussed false friends, words that look the same or similar to words in other languages, but have different meanings. Related to false friends are pseudo-anglicisms. These are English words other languages adopt, but use in ways English speakers would likely misunderstand.

Here is a list of some interesting pseudo-anglicisms:

pseudo-anglicism foreign definition
autostop (Greek) hitchhiking
baskets (French / Romanian) sneakers
beautyfarm (German / Italian) spa
college (Finnish) sweater
desk  (Japanese) title  for office worker
dressman (German) male model
face control (Russian) checking if a person looks appropriate (a common practice in Russian night clubs)
funeralmaster (German) undertaker
gadgets (Italian) goodies
gimmick  (Filipino) a night out with friends
golf (Italian) sweater
handphone (Korean) cell phone
handy (German) cell phone
junk  (Dutch) drug addict (In English it would be “junkie”)
magnetron (Dutch) microwave oven (sounds more like a superhero name to me)
mansion (Japanese) condominium apartments
pocket (Dutch) paperback book
relooking (French) makeover
shampooing (French) shampoo
slang (Filipino) a strong foreign accent
skin scuba (Korean) scuba diving
smart (Japanese) skinny
speaker / speakerine (French) Announcer (radio, TV, railway)
style (Vietnamese) Appearing teenage, playful, modern
talkmaster (German) talk show host
topfit  (Dutch / German) physically fit
twen (German) a person in his/her twenties

Some of these I really love. Wouldn’t it sound good to say, “I won’t be back until tonight, honey. I’m going to the beautyfarm,” or, “I’ll get you your stupid food in a minute. Let me throw it in the MAGNETRON!!!”

It’s amazing how much of  American culture we have exported. (Though it’s frightening to think how many people in foreign countries may know who Snooki is. On behalf of America, sorry about that one.)

For your enjoyment, here is a list of more pseudo-anglicisms.