Media Monday: Anglicisms in Harry Potter

Media Monday is a feature I post every two weeks where I discuss an interesting word or phrase (or sentence or paragraph) from what I’ve been reading or watching.

So with Tadoku finishing a few days ago, I’ve still been reading Harry Potter und der Feuerkelch so this is another German day for you all. I’ll get to another language eventually ;).

Something that’s interesting me at the moment, because it’s coming up in some of my uni work, as well as in my everyday reading, are the amount of words in German that seem to have English roots. My post today, then, has something to do with that.

Here’s the section I’m going to look at today:

“Können wir nicht Mrs Norris kidnappen?” schlug Ron am Montag in der Mittagspause vor, als er mitten im Zauberkunstklassenzimmer flach auf dem Rücken lag, soeben zum fünften Mal in Folge von Harry geschockt und wiederbelebt. (Harry Potter und der Feuerkelch, s.600)

In terms of anglicisms, there are two very important words here: kidnappen and geschockt.

Kidnappen, obviously, means to kidnap, and since the word comes from English, German has its own word: entführen. Funnily enough, a few pages earlier Professor Moody uses the noun form (i.e., kidnapping) of this verb, so it isn’t as if kidnappen is used simply because it is easier for the target audience of the book to understand.

“Auch eine Entführung können wir nicht ausschließen,” brummte Moody. (Harry Potter und der Feuerkelch, s.597)

This means then, that kidnappen is being used for effect: most likely, as an anglicism, it is considered a colloquialism, which is why Ron uses it and not the Professor.

Geschockt (schocken), however, is used within the narrative. Obviously with the Harry Potter books there are many instances where words have to be adapted to fit, because Rowling invented so many new concepts for her world. In this case, geschockt means stunned, as in the stunning spell Harry is practicing in this scene. Schocken does seem to be used quite often within German texts, but again, they are usually more informal as German has a couple of equivalent verbs, such as erschütteln or erschrecken.

There are, of course, hundreds of examples of anglicisms in German, but they’re just good examples of how, especially if English is your native language, it can make it a little easier to understand.

How about you? Have you ever come across any anglicisms (or, for that matter, any words from your native languages that are used in other languages) when you’ve been learning? There’s a really interesting post here about the use of Danish words in Icelandic too, if anyone fancies reading in a bit more detail about the subject.

And finally, the words:
vorschlagen (schlug…vor) – to suggest
flach auf dem Rücken liegen – to lay flat on one’s back
soeben – just, just now
in Folge – in a row
wiederbeleben – to resuscitate, to revive
ausschließen – to rule sth. out
brummen – to mutter, to grumble


  1. A very interesting post to see after our recent “conversation” and I also find your comments about the translational purposes of using one word for kidnap over another—”kidnappen is being used for effect: most likely, as an anglicism, it is considered a colloquialism, which is why Ron uses it and not the Professor.” I find myself thinking a lot lately about how I would effectively translate certain words which have particular connotations or are being used in the original for an effect which might be lost in the second language. It’s complicated!

    • Hi, Larissa!

      Yep, it was definitely that conversation that ended up making me pick this part of the book for my post; I’d almost forgotten how interesting borrowing words in languages can be! And yes, I’m hoping to do some kind of translation course in the near future, so it’s definitely good to look into why certain words are being used and whether they carry the same nuances as the original language text. In this case, I think it works quite well, but there are obviously a lot of situations where it’s not as accurate.

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