Sunday, November 27, 2016

Some Denglish that is way off

I attended a language exchange meetup and was introduced to my friend's new roommate, T, a friendly chap. He immediately leaned in and said quietly to me, "I have something I really want to ask you."

Me, to myself: okay, so I'm just meeting this dude; what's his burning question? To him: "Okay, what is it?"

Him: "I need to know something important about American English. What do you call it when a bunch of people watch a sports game together in public?

Me: breaking into laughter because I know where this is heading: "it is certainly not called a public viewing."

In other words, Americans use the term "public viewing" way differently and our term applies to death and grieving. Actually, we'd just say viewing or visitation, which is another term for a wake, in which family and friends gather to say goodbye to the loved one before the funeral. Usually the coffin is in the room and sometimes it's open; other times it's closed. The most common term I've heard in my US region, the Midwest, is a visitation. 

In Germany, a public viewing means watching a soccer game, somewhere in public, such as in a town square, with the game being projected on a big screen. There is no visiting a deceased person during such an event.

This discussion with T led to him asking me what we'd call this event -- I mean the sports one. We don't really have a term for it; we might just call it "watching the game" or we may specify the opponents, like "I'm going to watch the Honeybadgers play the Sloths."

Generally, we don't gather in a town square to watch sports games, especially since the US is so suburbanized and our downtowns are not always so vibrant (though they can be). It seems that most of the time a bar or bar/restaurant will show a(n) (American) football game on their big screen tvs. Sometimes businesses will host Superbowl Sunday parties in honor of the big competition at the end of January. Since it is common for Americans to have big screen tvs, many people just watch the game from home, either alone or with friends whom they've invited over for a party.


  1. yeah the term "public viewing" for watching sports games just sounds wrong. So often Germans think the Denglish word is the actual one in english. My work colleagues always say "Beamer" the German world for projecter when they are talking english

  2. I always think "vroom vroom" with that one.