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German SMS

Text Messaging auf Deutsch

A New Source of German Vocabulary

More of this Feature
• 1: German SMS
2: SMS Sources

Related Resources
Telephone Glossary
Computer/Internet Glossary

On the Web
Handy.de - Free-SMS

What is SMS? - Ah, you say, that's all I need ("Das hat mir gerade gefehlt!"), another dumb abbreviation to learn! But these three letters can provide a valuable resource for your German-learning.

SMS stands for Short Message Service - a special digital text service for wireless telephones. Although it's neither a German word nor a German idea, the Germans have taken to SMS in greater numbers than any other nationality. To date, about three-quarters of a million German Handy (mobile phone) users have become SMS fans and an entire SMS-industry has popped up in Germany over the past few years. There's even a new German slang verb, simsen, "to send an SMS, to text message." The noun eine SMS is an SMS message (similar to eine Mail for "an email message").

An SMS message (properly called eine SMS-Mitteilung or eine SMS-Nachricht) can be sent in many languages and in different alphabets (Arabic, Roman, Cyrillic, Thai, etc.), depending on the phone and where it's being used. There are SMS Web sites in various languages that provide both free and fee-based SMS services, allowing customers to send a text message of up to 160 characters that displays on the screen of a wireless phone. Since typing on most cell phones is a rather awkward task, these online SMS services, particularly in Germany, have become popular by offering ready-made messages that can be sent via the Internet with just a few key clicks. (European wireless phone users do not pay for incoming calls or messages; the caller pays. A typical SMS message costs from 8 to 20 euro cents.) But the real solution may be spoken SMS: Samsung has released a cell phone for Cingular that can send text messages from speech!

Sample German SMS Ready-Made Messages

THEMA: Filmzitate
Wer bist du? - Dein Super-Alptraum! (Rambo 3)
THEMA: zum Geburtstag
Dass alles vergeht, weiß man schon in der Jugend, aber wie schnell alles vergeht, erfährt man erst im Alter.

Until recently, this was all foreign to most North American cell phone users, since SMS only works on GSM wireless phones, i.e., the kind used in Europe and many other parts of the world, but less often in the U.S. or Canada. (AT&T/Cingular, and T-Mobile use GSM.) It is possible to send a text message of up to 160 characters on most U.S. or European digital wireless phones, but the number of Americans who text-messaged was rather low until recently because it cost too much or was too cumbersome.

SMS Web sites in Germany and elsewhere simplify the process by offering pre-packaged messages (and even logos/graphics) in a variety of categories. You can select messages in German for topics ranging from Ausreden (excuses) to Weise Worte (words of wisdom). This from Lycos.de: SMS Sprüche aussuchen - und dann kostenlos per SMS mit Lycos verschicken. The U.K. Lycos SMS site has a similar message: "Send text messages from any computer in the world to any U.K. mobile phone."

Since our main reason for looking at SMS is to find and learn new German vocabulary, let's take a look at some German SMS message sources...

NEXT > SMS Sources

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