ENGLISCH/801: Questions to Mrs. Gobbledygook (142) too "gung-ho"... (SB)


142. What does "a little too gung-ho" mean in German?

Dear Mrs. Gobbledygook

I recently came upon a phrase I was unable to translate: "...probably she is a little too gung-ho ..." I would translate the expression "gung-ho" from the context as "doing something very quickly in order to get it done". Could you please tell me if my suggestion is right? And do you by any chance know where that phrase derives from? I suppose it is not standard written or spoken English.

Yours sincerely,

Miriam Gamberger (from Vienna, Austria)


Dear Ms Gamberger

"Gung-ho" is an adjective that means "extremely enthusiastic about something or zealous", without thinking seriously about it, especially about fighting or war... The equivalent construction in your native language, German, would be something like "Feuer und Flamme". "She is a little too gung-ho about going to Paris would be translated as "sie ist von der Idee nach Paris zu gehen ein wenig zu begeistert".

The term "gung-ho" was first used as a slogan by US military forces in Asia during the Second World war. It was a shortened form of the Chinese "ch'ing-kung-yeh ho-tso shé", "Light Industries Cooperative Society", which was misinterpreted by a Marine Corps leader to mean "work together". "Gung-ho" has since then gone through several different shades of meaning. It is considered somewhat informal. So you shouldn't be too "gung-ho" about using this new expression.

Best wishes

Mrs Gobbledygook

25 August 2008