What are some of the worst acronyms
A love-hate relationship: the Germans and their abbreviations
LOL, OMG, BTW, ILY, TBH, IMHO, YOLO et cetera: People who are not familiar with social media will have to go to Google to understand the meaning of these acronyms.
Many native English speakers complain that the flood of abbreviations sent through text messages and tweets is ruining the English language. Perhaps it may be comforting that Germans have been practicing this kind of thing for much longer without endangering their language in the long term.
Bureaucratic jargon with a dark tradition
Trying to decipher an official letter from the German authorities is usually an extraordinary challenge - even for German native speakers. Because in addition to the complicated sentence structures in German, the texts are usually also interspersed with cryptic-looking abbreviations. While you are usually only a click or two away from an explanation with the abbreviations in the social networks, this is usually much more difficult with these text documents.
The book by Victor Klemperer
What many German bureaucrats may not know: The extravagant use of abbreviations goes back to one of the darkest chapters in the country. The National Socialists were masters at finding abbreviations - this is how the linguist Victor Klemperer describes it in his book published in 1947 on the question of how Nazi propaganda changed the German language. Already the title "LTI - Lingua Tertii Imperii: Notebook of a Philologist" parodied the brown anger for abbreviations.
But of course there are also abbreviations in other areas in Germany - and they obviously have nothing to do with National Socialism. Now, of course, many German words are also impressively long. Therefore it seems to make sense to shorten it a little. But even short words are often shortened further, such as the word "and", which leads to "u." becomes. Number of characters saved: exactly one.
The MfG drama
One of the most famous pop-rap bands in Germany, Die Fantastischen Vier, criticized the inflationary use of abbreviations in the German language in their 1999 hit single, "MfG". At the beginning, before the musicians start rapping a list of abbreviations, the spoken intro says: "Now that the curtain of night rises from the stage, the game can begin, which tells us about the drama of a culture."
The abbreviation "MfG" is a widespread form that is placed under emails in order to abbreviate the more formal "Sincerely". You can also often see "VG" for "Greetings" and "LG" for "Greetings". The latter is not only used with family and close friends, but also appears in emails to colleagues or even strangers in "cooler" workspaces.
The main argument for these abbreviated greetings, of course, is that it saves time. Anyone who has to answer tons of emails every day needs abbreviations. An obvious option would be to simply leave out the goodbye under these emails, which is common practice in English, for example. But in Germany, a two-letter abbreviation still seems more polite than none at all.
But not everyone agrees. On a wall in a Berlin S-Bahn station you can read: "What are you actually doing, your nimble second-hander, with all the time you save when you type 'lg' instead of greeting you?"
You can find more content about Germans and their idiosyncrasies, everyday German culture and language on YouTube, on our page dw.com/MeettheGermans_de and on the Instagram account dw_meetthegermans.
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