27. Juni 2019

Elevated Wording

This is about words and names, about expressions and denominations. To make Americans aware of some of their pomposity – the hot air that hits the reader like this year’s weather, called climate change
   Americans – well educated English writing persons – tend to use latin derived expressions instead of simple, clear words, usually stemming from Germanic origin. Sorry, I’m no native English writer, nor am I a linguist, so pardon and or excuse my style.
   Let’s look at examples.

Technik – Technology

In original German the word Technik prevailed until ca. 1980. Technologie meant a large scale chemical process, typically in making steel with a lot of heat. The word Technologie was extremely rare. Germany lead the world with its Technik, not Technologie.
   In the meantime Germany not only lost technical leadership, but even lost the short and clear word Technik. It’s always and only Technologie now, imported from English.

wissenschaftlich – scientific

Every collection of data, every research into causes – even into a single event – is scientific today. Soon in-car navigation systems will offer scientific research, when they ask you to turn left or right.
   Which brings me to:


Artifical Intelligence (AI), Künstliche Intelligenz (KI), that’s not yet another way of spying, not 007’s Aston Martin. It’s just an automatic intelligence, if intelligence were not a much too high level word for it.
   I call every new toilet cover with a brake AI. (The professional German name is with Absenkautomatik, automatic lowering.)
   The most annoying piece of AI today is Google’s (or rather Gmail’s) way of reading all your mails, and deciding with AI – arrogant intelligence – what’s spam and what’s genuine mail.
   Now to some specific aberrations in expressions:

Health Diplomacy – Gesundheitsdiplomatie – Gesundheitspolitik
Politik – Politics
I suspect that politics, a plurale tantum, i.e. only available in the plural, in many, evokes just negative connotations in English. The Geman Politik isn’t yet used down to a derogative. Diplomacy, not used so often, neither in disputes nor as a word, still sounds like a decorated room full of diplomats diplomating, or a black chauffeur driven armoured Mercedes in Peking.
   Health is Gesundheit, of course. Americans know the word from Germans sneezing and others calling out Gesundheit! Now the World Health Organization, the WHO, translates Health Diplomacy – a term I cannot judge – into Gesundheitsdiplomatie, see http://www.euro.who.int/de/publications/abstracts/health-diplomacy-european-perspectives-2017. The right German expression would be Gesundheitspolitik, “Health Politics”, used by some good translators.

Equity – Gerechtigkeit

Most Europeans will have to guess: what’s equity? My first association was “something with horses” or with mathematical equations. Apparently equity means equal treatment, justice to all, same level or something like that. It seems to be very general, but positively connotated. Gender equity – would that sound right? Or do women want to rather be treated, at least counted, separately?
   If equity is a must, I’d choose Gerechigkeit in German. Sounds good.


Everything is “global” nowadays, from the weather to sneakers (orig. Turnschuhe).
   Globally speaking last week it snowed in Colorado, while we suffered heat in central Europe. I call this crazy, not global.
Colorado summer storm brings 2 feet of snow

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