Public viewing

by Volker Weber


Native english speakers: what is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the words "public viewing"?


Germans, who like to use english words, mean "viewing a football game on a large screen in a public place". Why was I asking it? Because one particular German denies that you think of "funeral".


I was wondering why you were asking that. I must admit funeral wouldn't have occurred to me - (I'm in the Art Gallery camp) but then I'm Scottish so maybe English is a second language for me too. :-)

It would be interesting to know how many of the people that responded funeral were Americans cos some of the names I recognise as being American - is it an American figure of speech?

John Lindsay, 2010-06-11

John: certainly not unusual to use the term "public viewing" in relation to funerals in the USA. For example, do a quick Google search for "Michael Jackson public viewing" for context.

Julian Robichaux, 2010-06-11

@John: American here, first thought was "art" - and only after seeing other comments does "funeral" occur to me (though I would certainly understand it in that context). Of course, American language use differs widely from region to region, so where Julian is from (the South) they may have the opposite reaction from folks up where I am (the Northeast). There are some interesting (ok, geeky and interesting probably only to Americans) studies on it.

Rob McDonagh, 2010-06-11

Rob, I'm from the Southern US too and I first thought of funeral. Maybe there is some regional influence.

Charles Robinson, 2010-06-11

"Rudelgucken" sounds nicer and please don't try to translate it ;-)

Patrick Bohr, 2010-06-11

Originally from Germany here, but in the Midwest/Indiana for over 10 years now. Indiana is probably the most southern influenced state of the northern states - public viewing is definitely funeral here. Maybe its because there isn't as much art as in the big NE regions ;-)

Michael Kobrowski, 2010-06-11

@Patrick - I really love that one, and I think the English "pack viewing".... well.. nevermind....

Michael Kobrowski, 2010-06-11

Funeral was the first thought in my head, but then my Mom grew up in Indiana, and that's about the only state in which I've ever attended a funeral with a viewing.

Kevin Pettitt, 2010-06-11

I don't think it's a regional thing. I'm a Northeastern USA denizen like Rob, and my first thought is also of a funeral. My distant second thought would be art, but pretty much restricted to film or video, and particularly student film or video.

Richard Schwartz, 2010-06-12 heard that before....good to know.

Dennis Ruddigkeit, 2010-06-12

The twitter survey is a cool idea! Btw, the German blogger who "denied" that public viewing can be associated with funerals responds to the survey here:

Frank Oswalt, 2010-06-13

Sag ich doch. :-)

Volker Weber, 2010-06-13

When I go to a public viewing, I always take my D&G body bag with me ;-)

Marcus Humann, 2010-06-14

It must be a US english expression, I am from the UK and I had absolutely no idea the phrase could mean anything to do with funerals.

So I would say if you restrict the context to english as used in the UK I then it is true that 'public viewing' would have no connection with funerals.

Patrick Lambourne, 2010-06-14

As an Englishman living in Germany I was surprised when it was first suggested that public viewing could have anything to do with a funeral. I heard it first here! I do not recall it ever being used on TV or in the press. I would definately have gone for art gallery or something similar.

Thinking that it might be an Americanism I asked a colleague from the States. He had never heard of it either. The only person I have come across who suggested a funeral was a German teacher of Enslish. Is an obvious conclusion staring us in the face?

On a related topic, what is "public viewing" in the the German sense in English. I think that we just go to the pub and watch England loose there.

Ian Wright, 2011-01-27

Well, for all the German angst about "Denglish", looks like it's creeping back into English: The BBC has quite a few mentions of 'public viewing' in relation to sport events, in particular football. Very few mentions of funerals though.

Armin Grewe, 2011-01-28

Take a look at the following

"Michael Jackson public viewing set for Friday" at

On the other hand I have serached several online dictionaries and have failed to find even a single reference to the term.

What is more, every native speaker I have asked has failed to link it to funerals.

Still not certain that watching sport on a large tv is a public viewing although I cannot for the life of me think what it is called.

Ian Wright, 2011-01-28

Is the term for watching sport not "public screening" in English rather the "public viewing"?

Ian Wright, 2011-01-28

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