Lübke English

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The term Lübke English (or, in German, "Lübke-Englisch") refers to nonsensical English created by literal word-by-word translation of German phrases, disregarding differences between the languages in syntax and meaning.[1]

Lübke English is named after Heinrich Lübke, a president of Germany in the 1960s, whose limited English[2] made him a target of German humorists. For example, it was alleged that Lübke said to Queen Elizabeth II when they were waiting for a horse race to start:

  • Lübke's statement: Equal goes it loose."
  • The sentence Lübke had in mind: "Gleich geht es los."
  • Meaning of the statement: "It'll start very soon."

In the 1980s, comedian Otto Waalkes had a routine called "English for runaways", which is a nonsensical literal translation of Englisch für Fortgeschrittene (actually advanced english or english for advanced speakers). In this mock "course", he translates every sentence back or forth between English and German at least once (usually from German literally into English). Though there are also other, more complex language puns, the title of this routine has gradually replaced the term Lübke English when a German speaker wants to point out naive literal translations.


  1. ^ Hellmuth Karasek (2006-01-16). "Learnen von Lübke". Hamburger Abendblatt. Retrieved 2008-07-29. 
  2. ^ Christoph Winder (2006-09-26). "What shalls". derStandard.at. Retrieved 2008-07-29.