Of Football and Funerals or: What is ‘public viewing’?

New English word? Translate any word using double click.

Here, finally, my World Cup 2014 post. We are looking forward to the next round, the quarter finals, Germany will play France on Friday – fortunately at the earlier time – many of us did not manage to watch the late games to the end. I was often unfortunate to leave the scene just before the first goal, but I heard I was not the only one. I looked into a lot of tired eyes last week, however, trafic was fairly low so I didn’t have to leave so early in the morning.

But now on to my vocabulary issue.

In Germany, the event of watching a soccer game with a crowd of fans in a public place on a huge screen is called ‘public viewing’.

It doesn’t take long before some smart and knowledgeable person tells others that this was a rather funny case of Denglish – (and quite typical of Germans to use a term that actually means something completely different in the original country of English wrongly).

If you check online sources, you find as an expression for watching an event in communion with a crowd of other people: ‘public screening’

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Public_and_private_screening)

I don’t feel very comfortable with that option as it strongly reminds me of doctors, airports and the NSA.

The expression ‘Public Viewing’ was probably created during the World Cup 2006 that took place in Germany, at least that’s when it started to come into wide use. Whoever created it preferred to choose an English expression over a German one to accommodate international visitors to the games. And the creation – ‘public viewing’ – makes perfect sense as that is what people do: view something publicly in contrast to privately.

It is not German custom, at least not commonly practiced, to display dead people in a more or less public place for friends and relatives to say good bye (I’m not even sure if it is common English or British custom, I will have to check).

The term ‘public viewing’ allows general interpretation and the question could be asked as to why people who follow the practice call the public display of a dead person ‘public viewing’ instead of e.g. ‘public wake’ or ‘survivors’ party’ or something like that.

Now having said all that, what do English speakers actually say when referring to the

event Germans call ‘Public Viewing’?

This time Americans were much more interested in the World Cup games than previously and there were a lot of venues that offered big screen viewing events. I checked the internet for articles on this.

Take a look at the following one at http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/going-out-guide/wp/2014/06/30/world-cup-2014-where-to-watch-the-united-states-vs-belgium/

What are words, expressions or phrases you find? Outdoor viewing options, outdoor party spot (‘screening’ you find too), and the most frequent and my absolute favorite:


Also see


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