The term Lübke English (or, in German, "Lübke-Englisch") refers to nonsensical English texts created by a naive word-by-word translation of German texts that disregard differences between these languages in terms of their syntax, context dependency of vocabulary with multiple possible meanings, and German idioms not having identical English equivalents.
Lübke English is named after a President of Germany of the 1960s, Heinrich Lübke, whose English language skills suffered from the aforementioned flaws, which caused him to become a rewarding target for German humorists of that time. For example, it was widely reported on the occasion of Queen Elizabeth's state visit to Germany that Lübke said the following to her when they were waiting for a race to begin at a horse track:
- The German sentence Lübke had in mind: "Gleich geht es los."
- Lübke English, his nonsensical translation: "Equal goes it loose."
- An appropriate translation into English: "It'll start very soon."
It appears, however, that many of these phrases (such as the above) were invented by a hostile press.
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.