Say It in German: Screen

posted in: German, German Vocabulary, Informatik | 0

der Bildschirm (pl. Bildschirme) – the screen

IPA: [ˈbɪltˌʃɪʁm]

This refers to the computer screen or monitor.

A Schirm is a screen or a shield, sometimes also used to mean “umbrella”, Regenschirm. A Bild is a picture, or an image. Put the two together, and we get a monitor.

I was about to ask, “Why does German use a word “screen” for screen?” when I realised that it was also the same in English. (Yes, I tend to forget about the obvious.)

Looking into the etymology of “screen” in the Online Etymology Dictionary, I found that it could be from Old High German, skerm, meaning “protection”. Meaning it is quite likely that both the English and German words have the same source.

The original meaning of the word from the 14th century referred to furniture that provided some sort of protection from the elements and the like.

In the 19th century, the term “screen” was used in the context of magic lantern shows to mean the flat surface the images were projected on. Then, later, it was applied to cinema.

Now, on our screens, the images are usually not projections, but the name has stuck. After all, the function of the screen has remained, although how the image gets there has changed.

From this perspective, the German term Bildschirm is really fitting.

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