Margaret Marks of Transblawg has an interesting post on “Pseudoenglisch,” elements of the German vocabulary that look like English words but would not be recognized by an actual English-speaker, like Talkmaster ‘moderator’; she links to the Fruchtbringendes Wörterbuch, a Wiki site that defines such terms in standard German, or tries to—as she says, far too many of the entries are actual English: “Perhaps this is the topic where the Wikipedia concept won’t work, because the more confused Germans add to it, the more useless it will become!” Unfortunately, the definitions aren’t always reliable, either; “Arm candy” is defined as schmückendes Beiwerk ’embellishment, accessory’ when it actually means (in the words of the New Oxford American Dictionary) ‘a sexually attractive companion accompanying a person, esp. a celebrity, at social events.’ I think a reference site like this should definitely be maintained by people who know what they’re talking about rather than by all comers. Still, a nice idea and an enjoyable site to browse despite the problems.


  1. I think the original objective of the dictionary is to find German words for English words that enter their language. To mix this with Scheinanglizismen is a bit confusing.
    Here‘s a list with those. I was somewhat shocked to learn that Germans use the word body bag for backpack (the more, because their rucksack even made it into English and Russian). From now on, I will also tell my colleagues that beamer is not correct English for video projector.

  2. This is great – exactly the link I need! I have added an entry. It looks as if the Fruchtbringendes Wörterbuch is really odd: it suggests people should invent words.
    Body bag is used for the kind of rucksack that is like a small handbag and fits close to the body. Is there a special English term for that? Otherwise, Rucksack is used.

  3. Fannypack?

  4. “Body bag is used for the kind of rucksack that is like a small handbag and fits close to the body. Is there a special English term for that? ”
    Fanny pack is good. Too bad it replaced the already existing “sporran”, which describes exactly the same kind of thing.
    MM, the problem with “body bag” is not that there is already a special term for that, it is that there is already a special Englsih meaning for that. Body bag is not a bag you wear next to your body, it is a bag that you put a dead body into.

  5. Ahem, cough, how can I put this politely?
    I recommend to be very careful when using the word “fanny” in the UK (and I believe also Australia). Look it up in a dictionary for British slang and you’ll know why.

  6. Michael Farris says

    I’m not sure what British people think of “fannypack” the first part of that has a different meaning there.

  7. Of course I know the meaning of body bag in English – I am English! I just meant that Body Bag is a well known false anglicism. I am looking for the *correct* English – obviously I didn’t make myself clear.
    This has nothing to do with the US fanny pack / BE bum bag, I think. It’s like a rucksack but it’s smaller and fits closer to the body. It can be asymmetrical, or on the back. Since they’re probably out of fashion again, I looked at E-Bay, but all I can see is ‘rucksack/backpack’, which suggests that there is no special term in English.

  8. I did an image search for “bodybag site:de”. I’ve seen similar bags called sling packs/slingpacks and, less commonly, sling bags.

  9. Ah, thanks, that seems to be it. A Google iamge search for “sling pack” or slingpack produces the right sort of pictures. I seem to remember that many years ago, “sling bag” was another word for a shoulder bag, perhaps because you sling it over your shoulder.

  10. Mark Clark says

    You may also be interested in the English-language Wikipedia’s article called “Pseudo-Anglicism.”

  11. The Japanese equivalent of ‘Pseudo-Anglicism’, of course, is 和製英語 wasei-eigo, or ‘Japan-made English’. Words like ‘after-service’ for ‘after-sales service’, ‘link-free’ for ‘you are free to link here without asking’, and many others I can’t think of at the moment.

  12. I have also found quite a few ghits for ‘across the body bag’ and ‘cross-body bag’ on English-language sites. This could be the origin of the German term.

  13. A German friend, who speaks perfect English and had part of his education in England, nevertheless objected when, at half-time in a German soccer match, the coach complemented the team on having “gefighted”.

  14. That should probably be gefightet ;). The language of German football/soccer is a world on its own.
    Here’s a not so serious German language course for Dutch supporters of the national team, to prepare for the next world cup (Germany, 2006):

  15. Just came across these body bags myself. They are called “z bags” in English as well. Here, we see why Germans have to change the name to avoid confusion: “I vould like one of z bags.”

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