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There are some words in German which sound as if they were English foreign words, but have a completely different meaning in English.


Handy - mobile phone

Homeoffice - Working from Home

This is different from false friends, because they are new recently created words and in the case of Handy many Germans think that it is just English.

Proposals for tags and links to lists of such words are welcome as well.

BTW: the German Homeoffice has the synonyms Telearbeit and Heimarbeit.

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"home office" (with a space) is a valid english word though: – Pekka 웃 May 29 '11 at 16:31
I reject your premise that these are not false friends. "Es handelt sich hierbei um Paare von Wörtern oder Ausdrücken aus zwei Sprachen, die orthografisch oder phonetisch ähnlich sind, jedoch unterschiedliche Bedeutungen haben. [...] Dabei können die Wörter entweder ursprungsverwandt sein, sich aber verschieden entwickelt haben [...], oder eine rein zufällige Ähnlichkeit aufweisen." Suits to a T. – RegDwight May 29 '11 at 16:57
@RegDwight In any case they would be a special subclass and the situation is different. The native speaker is not aware, that the foreigner might misunderstand him, because he thinks it is a known foreign word. – bernd_k May 30 '11 at 4:58
@RegDwight: Zu Handy ist allenfalls handy ähnlich, welches handlich bedeuttet. Was zu home office der false friend sein soll, darüber rätsel ich noch. – user unknown Jul 29 '14 at 4:31
up vote 10 down vote accepted

Wikipedia calls them "pseudo-anglicisms" and has a long list of them from a number of different languages.

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I don't know if there is a linguistic term for it, but I would call it pseudoenglische Wortschöpfung or simply Pseudoenglisch.

Another term in German is Scheinanglizismus, a sub-term of what German linguistics call Pseudoentlehnungen.

Other examples:

  • Showmaster
  • Talkmaster
  • Oldtimer
  • Body bag (eigentlich: Leichensack)
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Another term is Dinglisch which is a fword created from the two words Deutsch and Englisch – FUZxxl May 29 '11 at 16:58
@FUZxxl: We call it normally Denglisch, with an e. – swegi May 29 '11 at 18:09
@FUZxxl: According to Google and Wikipedia, there is. – swegi May 29 '11 at 18:33
another lovely example is "Beamer" ^^ – ladybug May 29 '11 at 20:06
Another example I can think of seems to be pan-European, appearing in at least a few languages: "camping" to mean "campground". – hippietrail Jun 2 '11 at 14:29

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