Casting, das

An audition. This noun (initial capital obligatory) has no affinity with the English verb cast in the sense of forming metal (Gießen), throwing a dice (Werfen) or placing a fishing-line well away from shore (Angeln). Its ancestor is an English noun, the cast, meaning the team of actors or singers chosen to represent the dramatis personae in a play or opera, and its derived verb, to cast, for the director's action of selecting a cast for a film, play or opera. No one could call this an elegant verb, for it still has that makeshift feel which attaches to English nouns when they have been converted into verbs for want of anything better to use. An odour of jargon hangs around it, since it is hardly a term that a child would readily understand, and the passiveness of the actor or singer who is cast gives this verb an impersonal, blunt tone. When the credits roll up at the end of a film, the person responsible for hiring the members of cast will be mentioned with, "Casting: Joe Bloggs", among the grips and the gaffers and other strange professions, and the gossips may wonder if some of the ingenues were not chosen on that mythical item of Hollywood furniture, the casting couch.
Having arrived in German, das Casting has suffered yet another shift of meaning which brings it to the verge of being a pseudo-Anglicism, for it no longer denotes a professional skill or task, but an event: ein Casting is an audition or talent quest, and not just to choose a cast, but practically any sort of performing talent, or even models for a photo-shoot. Der Casting-Show is a television talent-quest programme in the style of American Idol, where the audience enjoys hearing the talentless or unfortunate excoriated by the panel. On the return journey into English, casting can be a dangerous false friend, since most of these meanings are not found in the English lexicon and preceding the English word casting with the indefinite article "a" suggests to an English ear that the word is being used as an adjective. A German may say, "I am going to a casting," and I would wonder: a casting what? A casting appointment? Or a casting couch?

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