GLAD needs Fins

In case you had never heard of it, GLAD is this amazing open-access database of Anglicisms. GLAD stands for Global Anglicism Database; I think choosing to add the “L” from global was an excellent choice, because the database does make me glad. Open access stuff always does, especially if it has to do with global English!

The database concerns itself with Anglicisms; English words that get used within other languages. Usually with the same, or a very similar, meaning. For example, the German youth word of the year 2023 was “goofy”, used in German as in English to refer to someone who is clumsy, a bit strange or silly.

But there are also Anglicisms that get borrowed with a different meaning, causing confusion all around, because speakers of that other language will assume that the word means the same in English as it does in their own language. My job as an English teacher for German and Dutch speakers with advanced English is about 60% disabusing them of these incorrect translations. A Dutch person will call a classic car an “oldtimer”, a stroller/pushchair a “buggy” and a playpen a “box”. “Take the baby out of the box and put it in the buggy so we can go take a look at my new oldtimer,” is a sentence that makes perfect sense to a Dutch person.

All these words and more get collected by the tireless scholars over at GLAD. But there are some languages that need attention, and Finnish is one of them. This is surprising to me because I monitor World Englishes for my newsletter and Finnish English, known affectionately as Rally English for the way Finnish race car drivers brought the Finnish way of speaking English to the international stage, gets quite a bit of scholarly attention in Finland. You’d think some of those scholars would be happy to help GLAD.

So, Finnish English scholars, help your fellow English-word-collectors out and join the GLAD database! It must be really dark up there right now, so it seems to me a bit of GLADness is just what you need. (Apologies to my northern friends for not being able to come up with a better joke. You’re getting bad jokes when what you need is sunshine.)

The other languages that need some love are Greek, Ukranian, Cantonese, Mandarin, Catalan, Bulgarian and Galician. See the newsletter excerpt below to find out how to help.

Heddwen Newton is an English teacher and translator. She is fascinated by contemporary English and the way English changes. Her newsletter is English in Progress. 1100 subscribers and growing every day!

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