Realizing things in German

Overwhelmed by her victory in the Eurovision song contest last night, Germany’s Lena Meyer-Landrut was at a loss for words. She had clearly not yet come to grips with her win, or, as the German announcer covering the event put it: “Sie hat ihren Sieg noch nicht realisiert.” Lena herself admitted as much later, stating: “Ich hab’ das alles noch gar nicht richtig realisiert.” Strictly speaking, however, “realisieren” in German means “to bring about; to concretize” (as in, “Das Projekt wurde realisiert“). The meaning “to grasp or understand clearly” is a calque, the result of recent infiltration by the English language. Sadly, many – if not most – Germans are unaware of the questionable nature of “realisieren” in this context. Thus, the dilution of German by the Weltsprache continues apace.