Ich bin so Fame!

When English words are adopted into German, they don’t always retain their original meaning. A well-known example of this is the word handy, which means ‘useful’ or ‘convenient’ in English but has come to mean ‘mobile phone’ in German. In this case, the word has gone from being an adjective in English to a noun in German.

Conversely, words which are nouns in English may come to be used as adjectives in German. The following tweet uses the word fame as an adjective, even though in standard English fame is a noun. (The adjective, of course, being famous.)

Loose translation:
Haha, I’m getting more faves out of you today because you think I’m famous.

The screenshot below shows some more German tweets using fame to mean famous. They are a random sample found on Twitter using the search terms ‘fame geworden’ (meaning ‘become famous’).


I won’t translate the above tweets, but note that in several of them the word Fame is capitalised, as all nouns in German should be, even foreign ones. This suggests that the tweeters are well aware of the fact that fame is a noun in English but are using it as an adjective nevertheless. This grammatical awareness is in evidence in discussion forums like this one.

I don’t know whether the adjectival use of fame is part of a broader trend to use English nouns as adjectives in German, but I did once see the word gore1 – rather than gory – used as an adjective.

Moreover, fame is not used exclusively as an adjective in German, but can also be used as a noun – as demonstrated once again by @limonenbiss:

Loose translation:
And people will say I’m trying to cash in on my incredible [Twitter] fame.

It could be that this flexible use of F/fame in German is possible because it has not (yet) achieved the mainstream status of more established Anglicisms like Handy, which has long since entered the authoritative Duden dictionary. Fame may or may not go on to get the Duden seal of approval, but if it does, it will be interesting to see if it retains its dual use as a noun and an adjective, or whether it becomes fixed as one or the other.

1 I spotted this usage in a tweet which I can no longer find, so you’ll have to take my word for it. As a noun, Gore in German refers to a subgenre of horror movies, so the adjectival usage in the tweet that I saw may have been derived from this.

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