Global Lingo Blog

Why diet is a four-letter word in Germany

A recent Guardian blog by Helen Pidd has brought to light an interesting German advertising campaign from Unilever.

Du darfst!

It launches their new range of healthy eating, low-fat products called Du darfst, which translates as: you may, or you’re allowed.

However, the marketing slogan used to sell the products has caused some commotion in Germany.

The campaign literally tells people to ‘‘fuck the diet’’:

“You can’t be bothered to count calories? Then don’t! With Du darfst, you can enjoy yourself without worrying – Du darfst means above all that you don’t have to do anything. Just help yourself: fuck the diet!”

The advert is in German and chooses to use the English profanity as its catchphrase to encourage people to ditch their diet.

Surprisingly it is not the bad language which has caused the most controversy. Rather the use of Anglicisms!

Denglisch

The concept of ‘Denglisch’ and its increasing weight is a concern for those who worry about the extent of English’s influence on the German language.

Some, such as the Verein Deutsche Sprache (German Language Association), agonise that Anglicisms are becoming widespread and imbedded in the German language. They question the future of their native tongue and strive to keep the language in its purest form:

‘‘There seems to be this attitude that English is somehow ‘better’ than German, that German somehow sounds old-fashioned, particularly for a certain group of people.’’

Even when there is a German term which can be adopted, English words are regularly being chosen instead.

In some sense English faces a similar influx of foreign terms, such as the effect of Americanisms on British English.

Maybe the marketing team didn’t fully realise how strong the term was in English or maybe an alternative could be for the Verein Deutsche Sprache to create an equally expletive term in German which can be used instead!

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