Pony, das

In German use, das Pony is generally restricted to the tinier riding-school horse, and is not applied to what was once called a cow-pony, the small but wiry horse used by the cowboy. This Anglicism undergoes a major vowel change from an English dipthong to a very pure German -o-. At Gartenhaus, a hamlet southwest of Magdeburg, a riding-school sign advertises Ponnyreiten with a double -n-, a phonetic spelling that catches the pronunciation rather better. Though not strictly speaking an Anglicism, the lookalike word of masculine gender, der Pony, is a false friend for many translators. Der Pony arose as an abbrevation of der Ponyfrisur and means a fringe hanging over the eyes like that worn by every well-groomed Shetland pony. For any educated German speaker, there is no reason for confusion, but English speakers who are not sensitive to word genders may be tripped up. A BBC report notably muddled this in the summer of 2005, quoting German newspapers as saying that a woman suspect wore her hair in a pony-tail. In fact, the suspect had her collar-length hair styled to fall over her forehead. The BBC account was quietly corrected.

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