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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From your lips to God’s ears / Dein Wort in Gottes Ohr

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

From your [lips/mouth] to God’s [ear/s]
Dein Wort in Gottes Ohr (Your word in God’s ear)

This phrase expresses the hope that God will hear what someone has just said (something optimistic about the future) and grant that it may come true. A non-religious equivalent in English might be ‘Let’s hope you’re right!’ Language Log provides the following example of the American English (AmE) version:

»  I told him I thought [the movie Goldeneye] would take $30 million in its opening weekend, to which he replied: ‘From your lips to God’s ears.’ Evening Standard     (London) (4 October 1995.)* «

According to Language Log the expression may stem from Jewish religious texts and probably entered English via Yiddish. The same  post provides some original Yiddish examples, one attributed to Ben Sadock:
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Noodles / Nudeln

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

Noodles
Nudeln

Both the American English and German terms above refer not only to what British English thinks of as noodles (i.e. the type used in Asian cuisine), but also to some types of what British English would call pasta. Lynne Murphy has a detailed blog post on the ‘pasta/noodle distinction,’ in which she mentions the German origin of the word noodle and the significance of this in the American context:

» …I suspect that my default understanding of the word noodle may be more common in the parts of the US that had more northern-European settlement. (…The word noodle comes from German Nudel…) «

Do you want to come with? / Willst du mitkommen?

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

Do you want to come with?
Willst du mitkommen?

Some regional varieties of American English treat come and with as two elements of one compound verb, which is exactly how German treats kommen and mit in the verb mitkommen. Standard English, however, treats come as a simple verb and with as a preposition, which must be followed by an object, as in ‘do you want to come with us?’

The verb come with has its own entry in Wiktionary, where it is described as:

» American English. From a substrate of several Germanic immigrant languages that feature the same construction. «

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Germanisms in American English

Abbreviations: AmE = American English; BrE = British English

Being a Brit married to an American and living in Germany puts me in a good position to compare British and American English with German. And over the years I’ve been struck by the number of American English expressions that have close equivalents in German, but are not typically associated with British English. For example:

AmE:        Can I get a coffee?
German:  Ich bekomme einen Kaffee (bekommen = to get)

In British English it’s more traditional to order a coffee (or other food and drink) using phrases like can I have…? or I’ll have. Admittedly, can I get…? now seems well established in BrE, too, but I can remember a time when that usage was only familiar from American TV and films. The same applies to some of the other expressions on my list below.
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