My eyes are yellow! / Meine Augen sind schon ganz gelb!

This post is one of a series on ‘Germanisms in American English’ and should be read in conjunction with the introductory post here.

My eyes are yellow!
Meine Augen sind schon ganz gelb!

If you desperately need to urinate, you can express that urge in both American English (AmE) and German by joking that your ‘eyes are yellow’ – like the whites of your eyes have turned yellow as the urine level rises behind them, cartoon style. I had never heard that phrase in either English or German until I asked on Twitter whether any of my followers knew a German equivalent of the British English (BrE) idiom ‘to be busting for a slash’.

Here is my original German question followed by one of the replies (translations provided below):

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Sports fan / Sportsfreund

This post is one of a series on ‘Germanisms in American English’ and should be read in conjunction with the introductory post here.

Sports fan
Sportsfreund

Apart from being used to describe people who are keen on sports, the above terms can be used in American English (AmE) and German as casual forms of address. The first time I heard sports fan used in this way was in the mid-1990s by an American colleague (from Buffalo, New York), who explained that in his experience it was used by an older man to a boy – perhaps like ‘lad’ or ‘my boy’ in British English. This explanation is supported by the following definition of sports fan in Urban Dictionary:

»  A nickname used by working class old timers in and around the Gulf Coast United States. Typically used in greeting towards a younger person. […] Ironically it has absolutely nothing to do with sports or sportsmanship.
Hey ‘Sportsfan’!
Hows it going ‘Sportsfan’?  «
[Contributed by Jonathan L. on 30/04/2013; No.2-ranked definition as of 26/11/2016.]

The German term Sportsfreund is similar to sports fan in that it, too, is considered a male form of address. Duden online defines it as follows:
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Ghost driver / Geisterfahrer

This post is one of a series on ‘Germanisms in American English’ and should be read in conjunction with the introductory post here.

Ghost driver
Geisterfahrer

The German word Geisterfahrer is a colloquial term for Falschfahrer (literally ‘wrong-driver’). If you look up Falschfahrer on German Wikipedia and switch to English, you’ll find an entry on wrong-way driving, which is described as ‘the act of driving a motor vehicle against the direction of traffic’. Although I’ve often come across the term Geisterfahrer since living in Germany, I’d never once encountered the phrase wrong-way driving before researching for this post. This suggests that the phenomenon is not as commonly discussed in English as it is in German (for whatever reason).

The English term ghost driver is a loan translation of Geisterfahrer, and is usually found in texts discussing wrong-way driving in Germany. In such texts it often appears in quote marks or brackets alongside the original German term (e.g. here and here), the assumption being that the average anglophone reader won’t understand it without further explanation.
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