1

Could you, please, say why we capitalise the not-English word "Führer", which, literally translated into English from German, means "Leader" and is, for some strange reason, used in English when referring to Hitler?

I do have a speculation on this: Maybe that's because in German, all nouns are capitalised, so it has to be capitalised in English as well?

Also, could you tell me, wise Owls, that strange reason why English people began using "Führer" instead of "leader" when referring to Helter?

Example:

  1. The Führer has just said he shall not surrender!
4
  • 2
    When Führer means Hitler, it's a proper noun, and should be capitalized. (We often say "the President, the Prime Minister, the Premier). Mar 2, 2023 at 13:47
  • Do you mean "Helter" or is that a typo?
    – Anton
    Mar 2, 2023 at 14:07
  • 2
    Nothing strange is happening here: titles referring to particular people are often capitalised in English, as are nicknames and other terms. Whether it's the King (referring to the present King Charles III), the Russian Foreign Minister (Sergei Lavrov), il Duce (Mussolini), the Great Emancipator (Lincoln), the Iron Lady (Thatcher) or many others.
    – Stuart F
    Mar 2, 2023 at 14:17
  • @Anton, I think it's a minced oath.
    – Pete
    Mar 3, 2023 at 0:24

1 Answer 1

2

In German, common nouns are generally capitalized, but German words are typically not capitalized when incorporated into English sentences, even when italicized (see Capitalization of German words in English sentences). In this case, however, Führer is a job title, much like President. Style guides differ as to when exactly job titles should be capitalized (see APA, Wikipedia), but in at least some cases you would indeed capitalize fürher when using it in English.

2
  • The answers to the cited question do not all agree 'German words are typically not capitalized when incorporated into English sentences'; some of them convincingly argue that the matter depends on whether the word is perceived as a German word in an English sentence, or has effectively become an English word (which is the same rule as usually governs the italicisation of foreign words). It is true, however, that with respect to this particular word, the matter is preempted by its being a title of sorts, as is the case with, say, Kaiser.
    – jsw29
    Mar 3, 2023 at 16:51
  • @jsw9: it wasn't a title "of sorts". Hitler's official title was "Führer und Reichskanzler". Mar 3, 2023 at 20:26

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.