Commercial German Dictionary (Classic Reprint)

Commercial German Dictionary (Classic Reprint)

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Excerpt from Commercial German Dictionary

The present dictionary, though it was actually begun before 1914, is to a great extent a war-book, for many of those words in it which here make their first appearance in a lexicon were noted down during my military service as examiner of trade correspondence during the war.

To compile a complete dictionary of commercial terms would be a vast undertaking; and probably from the publishing point of view it could (in present conditions) only be a State-aided enterprise. Apart from engineering and science, which have their own (somewhat fragmentary) dictionaries, every branch of trade has its own vocabulary, its own technical terms, its own slang and abbreviations. A commercial correspondent whose firm deals, for instance, in cotton, will probably find it necessary to compile a glossary of his own; and if he transfers his activities to woollens, he will need a new one. I make no claim to have gathered all possible words and expressions into my net; I have had to content myself with compiling a dictionary which will serve for ordinary purposes, though it eliminates a great many purely literary and more or less obsolete words to make room for the general vocabulary of commerce; and I can only excuse omissions with the promise that in the event of a favourable reception there will, in due course, be an enlarged edition, for which author and publishers will be glad to receive suggestions.

I have throughout given the form of the word actually used in trade rather than the etymologically correct or academic word; e.g. not "codling" (which is found in Shakespeare), but "codlin," the word found in nurserymen's catalogues, and the only form which apple-growers know.

The fact is, the commercial language has a tendency to play havoc with the literary language. German grammarians, and purists in particular, are up in arms against the lingo of German trade, which they characterize as unpatriotic, puerile, and impossible. But it is surely inevitable that all commercial languages should approximate to a universal language, a Weltsprache. It is no doubt true that commercial borrowings are excluded by the genius of the language from the higher style, or the national style; no German, it has been pointed out, will dream of saying er wird nie auf eine grune Branche kommen; but it may be questioned whether Zweiggeschaft is for business purposes a more serviceable term than Branche, which can be tacked on to other words to make logically impossible combinations, Wollebranche, Kleiderbranche, and even Lumpenbranche, the rag-branch of commerce.

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