German and English, not so different languages after all?

English and German are two languages which are not that different from each other. English is a Germanic language, just like German. Therefore, there are some words which are very similar in the two languages. However, they each have their own unique features, that you must take into account when translating texts between these two languages.

  • Capital Letters

During translation from English to German, or the inverse, it is important not to confuse the use of capitals, which is not the same in the two languages. Nouns effectively always need a capital letter in German. Therefore, pay attention to not put capitals for English nouns. However, in English the personal pronoun ’I’ requires a capital. Inversely ’ich’ does not need a capital letter in German. What is there to be confused by! Another example of particular features of the two languages is the word ’you’. It is written in lower case in English, while in German ’Sie’ needs a capital. During translation and proof reading of translation, it is therefore always important to pay attention to capital letters.

  • Articles

There are several articles in German which you put in front of nouns: “der/die/das” or “ein/eine” as well as all the various declensions. English is much more simple in this regard. English articles effectively do not change according to the role of the word in the phrase or its gender (masculine, feminine, neutral). Therefore, English uses ’the’ ’a/an’ or no article. The complexity in English is knowing when to use ’a’ or ’an’, ’an’ is used before a vowel. However, German does not make this distinction. During translation, one must pay attention to the articles chosen in English and German.

  • Nouns

German is known for creating long nouns by combining different nouns. One word in German is often translated by several words in English. For example the German noun “die Baunehmigung” becomes “a building consent” in English. Therefore, it is important to take the German words apart, so that you can translate them into English.

Translation in English and German, in one sense or the other, is a complex task even if these are both Germanic languages. It is important to pay attention to the use of nouns and their articles as well as the use of capital letters.

To learn more about the specific features of translation in different languages, visit the Berlin Translate blog.

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