Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Berlin May Be German but the English Language Rules

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Berlin May Be German but the English Language Rules

Article excerpt

Byline: Joy Lo Dico Notebook

"ZWEI Bier, bitte." "Sure, would you prefer lager or Pilsner?" "Einer von jedem?" "That'll be [euro]6.50."

So began the conversation me stretching out my German, him rallying back in perfect English, in a Berlin bar last week at midnight, with the windows steamed up and people inside smoking like it was coming back into fashion.

The other customers, a mix of locals and English, Americans and other Europeans who'd settled in Berlin, knew that I wasn't from around these parts.

The self-respecting expat here doesn't speak half-baked German in central Berlin because, however tolerant their host country may be, they can't take the grind of us trying to figure out the modal verbs. English is more efficient.

The rapidly gentrifying Neukolln district has been jokingly referred to as the English quarter. There are cafes where Berliners have to abandon their own language to be understood by the British and Aussie staff. I'm not a total tourist I did live in Berlin as a student in the mid-Nineties, besieged by Berlin friends wanting to practise their English, but even I was surprised at how Anglophone it had become.

Imagine going to Elephant & Castle and finding you could only order lattes in German. …

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