Financial Times (4/12) has an interesting article on the use of language in German business. Apparently, many German executives feel that it is easier to talk about things like “growth and ambition” in English than in German. “Imagine I want to say to some people: ‘Let’s go for it, and let’s do it together,'” says the head of a Munich-based consulting firm. “I can say this in English, and people will listen, but if I say it in German it takes up too many words, and (the phrasing) is impossible.”
A machine-tool CEO also remarks that many German words and phrases have been debased by their use first by the Nazi regime and then by the East German Communist regime. As an example, he uses the word Freundschaft(friendship) which he says under the Communist regime had political implications.
As a result of such considerations, some German executives are holding business discussions in English even when all the participants are native German speakers.
Others say that this is all pretty much nonsense and that a good speaker can get his ideas across equally well in either language.
Is there anything to this theory about the differential effectiveness of the languages? I took 2 years of high school German and more in college, but don’t really feel educated enough in the language to have an opinion. Would love to hear from bilingual German/English speakers on this one.