Home of Echoworld Communications

To Echo Germanica Homepage
March 200
3 - Nr. 3


The Editor
Vorsicht Satire!
Elizabeth Kuehn
Hier O.K. Berlin!
Ball Austria 2003
Echo-Lines 2
Herwig Wandschneider
Those Crazy Germans
Dick reports...
Sybille reports
Ham Se det jehört?
SOS Villages
German-Russian Arts
Mozart im Sudan
Old Masters Collection
Berlin's New Landmark
New Luther Exhibition
Steinway Anniversary
Praise for BMW
Poet Klopstock Celebration
Einen Guten Klang
Lack of Education
Computer As Boss
Int'l Book Club
Humbolt's Mexican Trip

A Sign of the Lack of Education

  Traditional Language in Media Excludes Young Readers

TWIG - Idiomatic expressions are being used more frequently in the German media, but are less often understood by young people. As a result many young readers are missing the message in newspapers and above all in advertising. This is the conclusion reached by Harald Burger, a professor of German language and literature, who presented the findings of a recent study on this topic at the 39th Annual Conference of the Institute for the German Language, held this week in Mannheim (Baden-Württemberg).

Some 400 linguists from more than 20 countries were in Mannheim for the three-day conference. Topics included the difficulty of translating idiomatic expressions and new statistical methods for researching established word pairings.

"Advertising copy writers in particular often have exaggerated ideas of what they can expect of those they are addressing," said Burger. In his study, he gave young people texts from the German mass media in which phrases such as "Öl ins Feuer gießen" (add fuel to the fire) or "Den Nagel auf den Kopf treffen" (hit the nail on the head) appeared. "People under age 20 understand fewer of these so-called idioms than do older people and also reject them to some extent," concluded Burger.

Young people typically justify this stance with comments such as "What do I care about a poor church mouse when I’m not interested in church?" Burger says that some expressions are in part too erudite, for instance, "Pandora’s box." Young people prefer to invent their own playful phrases, which are often modifications of older idioms or phrases adopted from other languages, such as "Mach mal low gas" (Hey, calm down). These are seldom picked up by the mainstream press.


To Top of Page

Send mail to webmaster@echoworld.com  with questions or comments about this web site.
For information about Echoworld Communications and its services send mail to info@echoworld.com .

Copyright ©2010 Echoworld Communications