‘Dumber in English’


General Culture

I often hear from Germans that one of the reasons why there is so little German participation in the international photo blog scene is because it’s in English, implying (or often actually uttering) that if everybody started to speak English that would basically be the end of German culture (this really wants to get me play that good old Götterdämmerung again). This argument is quite seriously flawed in many different ways; and even though my fingers have been itching to finally write down why, I have never found to the time to do so (especially since those Germans would never bother to read, let alone deal with it anyway since I would write it in English!). But now I came across this dumb article, written by a biophysicist, who argues that the German “academic language is on the verge of atrophy”, published - of course - in Germany’s major conservative newspaper. There’s really no point in taking this piece apart - an anecdote from my own academic career might suffice: Back in Munich, I once attended a seminar series, which, as far as I remember, was held at least partly in German. In my field - theoretical astrophysics/cosmology - there are no good German equivalents for many, if not most of the scientific terms, but one of my colleagues tried nevertheless. He had a hard time getting his point across, and the audience finally erupted in laughter when he suggested that when (translated back) two galaxies made love new stars would be born.