Philip Newton (pne) wrote,
Philip Newton

Germanisms in Amy's English, and "heißen" for "mean"

This morning, Amy came to my bedside and told me, "I already got dressed! That is called that we can eat breakfast now!"

I had to think a bit before I recognised her construction as a lexical transfer from German "Das heißt, dass...", meaning "That means that ...".

I assume the meaning transfer came about something like this: heißen originally meant (I think) "to give [a certain name] to someone", and later came to be used unaccusatively(?) in the meaning of "to be called [a certain name by others]; to have [something] as one's name".

That, in turn, was extended in use for foreign languages ("'Salz' heißt auf English 'salt'" - "'Salz' is called 'salt' in English) and then, by analogy, to mean "mean" ("'Salt', in English, means 'Salz'), and then even in the same language.

Anyway, I found it amusing to hear "that is called" for "that means".

Unrelatedly, Amy used to use "look out" for "pick (out)", as in "I'll look out a book for you to read".

I presume this comes from her equating "suchen" with "look for" ("I'm looking for my book" = "Ich suche mein Buch" or, occasionally, *"Ich suche für mein Buch"), so that "aussuchen" (to pick, select; literally, to "look for out" or "seek out") becomes "to look out".

Tags: amy
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