One reason why a foreign word enters the vocabulary of a language is that this vocabulary does not have a word or expression with exactly the same meaning. Examples of German words that have entered English apparently for that reason are Gestalt, Zeitgeist, Weltschmerz or Schadenfreude. Examples in the opposite direction are "fair play" or "common sense".
[In parenthesis: Right now, German is experiencing an outright invasion of English terms, some of which are used--for whatever reasons--to replace perfectly adequate German terms; for example, there is no reason in the world to speak of a "game" instead of a Spiel in German. But this issue and its ramifications--endlessly discussed in German blogs--do not concern us here.]
Each month, I will identify a German word that has entered--or could/should enter--English for legitimate reasons, i.e. there does not appear to exist an exact English equivalent. Given the prominence of soccer news this month, I select Angstgegner (lit. "anxiety opponent") for June. The word is used in German sports to denote an opponent a team tends to lose to on a regular basis, even if the odds would predict otherwise. Given Croatia's win yesterday over a favored German side, together with Germany's 0:3 loss against Croatia in the quarterfinals of the 1998 World Cup and the fact that Germany always seems to struggle against them, Croatia can now be considered Germany's Angstgegner.
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