German Currency

Dealing with German currency in your German translation

Germany, Austria and Luxembourg are German language speaking countries in the European Union who are also members of the Eurozone – the 16 EU countries who adopted the euro as their official currency on 1 January 1999.

The 16 Eurozone members are: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia & Spain.

Germany, Austria and Luxembourg were amongst the initial German-language countries to abandon their traditional currencies – the Deutschmark, the Schilling and the franc respectively - to sign up to the euro.

When they joined the Eurozone, their official set exchange rates were as follows:

Germany: € 1 (euro) = 1.95583 Deutsche Marks (DM)
Austria: € 1 (euro) = 13.7603 Austrian Schillings (ATS)
Luxembourg: € 1 (euro) = 40.3399 Luxembourgian francs (LUF)

1 euro is 100 cents.

Switzerland, another European country with German as one of its official languages, is not a member of the European Union. Its currency is the Swiss franc (CHF). 1 Swiss franc is 100 centimes.

Currently, € 1 (euro) = around 1.5 CHF.

As German Translation Tips and Resources focuses on providing useful information for all aspects of German translation, here are a few pointers for translating German currency terms!

Commas (das Komma) V Decimal Points!!


Basically,

German uses . where English uses ,
and German uses , where English uses .


German English
€ 1.000.000,00 or EUR 1,0 Mill
(eine Million Euro)
€ 1,000,000.00 or EUR 1.0 million
(one million euros)
€ 1.000,00 or TEUR 1,0
(ein Tausend Euro)
€ 1,000.00 or € 1,000
(one thousand euros)
€ 100,00 or EUR 100
(ein Hundert Euro)
€ 100.00 (one hundred euros)
€ 1,00 or € 1,--
(ein Euro)
€ 1.00
(one euro)


The “Billion” problem


This is more a UK English/American English difference, but the German translation is absolute:

German UK English (traditional) American English
Eine Million
(6 zeros)
(Mill, mio)
One million
(6 zeros)
One million
(6 zeros)
Eine Milliarde
(9 zeros)
(Md, Mrd, Mia)
One thousand million
(9 zeros)
One billion
(9 zeros)
Eine Billion
(12 zeros)
One billion
(12 zeros)
One trillion
(12 zeros)


Why the variation?


German currency,German money,eurozone,deutschmark,translate English to German

During the last two centuries there was a difference between American and UK understanding of the term “billion”. In the UK the “long scale” numerical system defined one billion as 1,000,000 x 1,000,000 = 1,000,000,000,000 (a million million - 12 zeros, or 10¹²).

In the US the “short scale” was used, with one billion representing 1,000 x 1,000,000 = 1,000,000,000 (a thousand million - 9 zeros, or 10⁹).

In 1974 the UK government officially adopted the “short scale” numerical system to avoid any misunderstandings with “one thousand million” becoming a “billion”. Adoption is almost complete although some residual uncertainty still remains in the UK (my Oxford Duden German dictionary still implies that the choice is optional).

TIP! If there is any chance that your translation may be misunderstood then spell it out . For example, if your German translation includes an important, officially authorized figure, such as GDP, then you can happily say “35 thousand million euros” or “thirty-five thousand million euros” and avoid any potential confusion.


PS. Just a note to all those Euro nay-sayers and doubters: I do get so sick of all the negative Euro-publicity I hear on English radio (the UK is particularly bad). I haven't met anyone over here who isn't happy with the Euro as our Austrian and German currency! Austria is landlocked and even though only 3 of our 8 neighbours are Eurozone countries - you have no idea how much easier life has become with a single currency!


Other articles in this German language series include:

Guide to pronouncing the German alphabet

The German umlaut – an explanation and keyboard commands

German holidays and customs

Common German abbreviations, their meanings and translations

The world of German SMS language – from A to L

The world of German SMS abbreviations – from M to Z

German loan words – so familiar we forget they’re German!



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