The Use of Anglicisms in the German Magazine FOCUS

Term Paper (Advanced seminar), 2010
36 Pages, Grade: 1,0


Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. English Influence on German

3. Research
3.1. Corpus
3.2. Method
3.3. Definition of Anglicisms

4. Evaluation
4.1. Quantitative Analysis
4.1.1. Frequency According to Year
4.1.2. Frequency According to Subject Area
4.2. Attempts at an Explanation

5. Conclusion

6. Bibliography

7. Enclosures

Table of Figures

Figure 1: Types of Anglicisms

Figure 2: Number of Anglicisms (Types/Token) Compared to Total Number of Words According to Year

Figure 3: Relative Frequency of Anglicisms According to Year in %

Figure 4: Types of Anglicisms Used in 1993 total

Figure 5: Types of Anglicisms Used in 2009 total

Figure 6: Number of Anglicisms (Types/Token) Compared to Total Number of Words according to Subject Areads According to Subject Area

Figure 7: Relative Frequency of Anglicisms According to Subject Area in %

Figure 8: Types of Anglicisms Used in Deutschland (total)

Figure 9: Types of Anglicisms Used in Modernes Leben (total)

Figure 10: Overview - Researches on Anglicisms

Figure 11 : Range of FOCUS

Figure 12: Means of Reading

Figure 13: FOCUS - Readership 2010

Figure 14: FOCUS - Readership 1994

Figure 15: Relative Frequency of Potential Anglicisms in %

Figure 16: Types of Anglicisms Used in 1993 Deutschland

Figure 17: Types of Anglicisms Used in 1993 Modernes Leben

Figure 18: Types of Anglicisms Used in 2009 Deutschland

Figure 19: Types of Anglicisms Used in 2009 Modernes Leben

Figure 20: List of Anglicisms for: 1993 Deutschland

Figure 21: List of Anglicisms for 1993 Modernes Leben

Figure 22: List of Anglicisms for 1993 total

Figure 23: List of Anglicisms for 2009 Deutschland

Figure 24: List of Anglicisms for 2009 Modernes Leben

Figure 25: List of Anglicisms for 2009 total

Figure 26: Survey of Collected Data - Potential Anglicisms

Figure 27: Survey of Collected Data - Anglicisms

1. Introduction

Most of all linguists who find themselves engaged in Contact Linguistics agree upon the fact that the influence of the English language on German is constantly increasing and has especially risen during the last decades of the 20th century. (cf. Viereck 1980: 11; Götzeler 2008: 58-59) Due to the close collaboration in the political and economical sector, the contact between the two language regions has become more intense and has thus led to a higher frequency of borrowings from English. As a direct consequence of this process, a public discussion on the drawbacks of the use of anglicisms in German has started and found his peek in the foundation of the Verein Deutsche Sprache formerly called the Verein zur Rettung der deutschen Sprache in 1997. (cf. Götzeler 2008: 61)1

The increasing presence of loanwords, as commonly believed, as well as the ongoing public discussion on their use is reason enough to analyze the use of anglicisms in the German language by using the example of the German newsmagazine FOCUS. In this context it shall be examined, whether the frequency of anglicisms in 2009 is higher than the frequency in 1993. Furthermore, as the corpus consists of texts from two different categories, namely Deutschland and Modernes Leben, numerical differences concerning those sections is also subject of the study. As a result, proof for the following theses is expected:
1. The frequency of anglicisms used in 2009 is higher than in 1993.
2. The number of borrowings in the section Modernes Leben will be greater than in the section Deutschland.

With those theses in mind, the following chapter will provide a short abstract on the influence of English on German in the first instance. However, as this paper deals with the topic of anglicisms in a rather practical than theoretical way, the second chapter will succeed by introducing the corpus and method used for this empirical study. Moreover, it will provide a definition for the term anglicism as it is used for the contemporary research. Chapter 4 will then present the results of the research in form of a quantitative analysis and will furthermore attempt at an explanation concerning the findings. Concluding, a final chapter will include an evaluation of the research with regard to the alleged theses as well as prospects for further research.

As suggested before, several researches have already been conducted in the field of anglicisms. However, this large number also includes a variety of different handlings and approaches to the topic. Among those who have engaged in analyzing the use of anglicism in the press, the studies of Christine Götzeler (2008): Anglizismen in der Pressesprache, Alexander Onysko (2007): Anglicisms in German and Margret Altleitner (2007): Der Wellness-Effekt turned out to be particularly beneficial as references.

2. English Influence on German

"Der Witz ist doch der, daß wir schon alle irgendwie amerikanisiert sind, in unseren Lebensumständen, angefangen bei McDonalds bis zur Rock- und Pop-Musik, bis zum Denglisch."(Gunter Kunert2 )

The concept of language contact and linguistic borrowing is not a new phenomenon since already in the 16th century a heavy discussion on the use of so called inkhornisms, borrowings from Latin was held in England. (cf. Viereck 1980: 9) However, due to the increased employ of mediums such as television, video, radio and internet also far-off language regions are nowadays rather likely to adopt expressions of other languages. In this connection a statement made by Viereck seems to be quite striking: “Nach dem zweiten Weltkrieg sind vor allem Amerikanismen ins Deutsche eingedrungen, nicht zuletzt auch ein Zeichen der technischen Vorherrschaft im technischen Zeitalter“ (1980: 11). This thought is continued by Hedderich, who says that “the Anglo-American linguistic influence has been particularly strong [and] has grown exponentially since the advent of the Internet in the early 1990’s” (2003: 47). Consequently, anglicisms resemble an integrated part of the German language nowadays as they have arisen through the natural language contact between the two language regions.

Up to the 18th century, however hardly any borrowings from the English language could be located, apart from single examples as in Boot from boat or Parlament from parliament. (cf. Langner 1995: 33) However, when in the 18th and 19th century the impact of English literature, technology methods and culture reached its peak, English words have made their way into the German lexis. (cf. Busse, Görlach 2002: 13). Although the beginning of American influence on the German language has been traced back to the beginnings of the 20th century, it was not until after World War II that “the impact of English, in BrE or AmE form, became massive” (Busse, Görlach 2002:14) Back then, the English language has reached the status of a World Language, especially because of the leading role of the US in politics, economics, science and cultural development. (cf. Götzeler 2008: 15-16) Until today, the United States hold an important role in means of technical innovation and science, leading to a steady influence of the English language. This causes Muhr to assign the US “eine sprachliche Geberrolle” (2004: 10) concerning those areas. Consequently, anglicisms are rather likely to appear in those fields.

While, many researchers presume that the frequency of anglicisms will further increase or at least remain stable in the upcoming years and decades, Bär on the contrary argues, that the influence of English on German “habe seinen Höhepunkt bereits überschritten und werde im Laufe des 21. Jahrhunderts erkennbar abnehmen” (2001 in Götzeler 2008: 60). However, as this research analyzes the use of anglicisms at two points in the past, the question on the development of anglicisms in the future will be neglected within the further proceedings.

3. Research

In light of the “Sensibilisierung, Aufmerksamkeit und das Interesse der Öffentlichkeit für den Themenkomplex Anglizismen“(Götzeler 2008: 61), the following chapters will now focus on the questions, whether there is an increase in the use of anglicisms in 2009 compared to 1993 and whether there is a significant difference regarding the impact of anglicisms in the subject areas Deutschland and Modernes Leben. According to Onysko, various different approaches to the topic of anglicisms have been made: ranging from defining anglicisms as done by Duckworth in 1972 and Carstensen in 1992 over sociolinguistic approaches on the acceptance of loanwords (Carstensen 1981: Hofmann 2002) to the use of anglicisms in particular fields such as advertisement (Fink 1997). (cf. 2007: 3) Yet, as this research works with a rather small corpus, it will simply focus on the numerical occurrence of anglicisms and disregard semantic functions or structural patterns.

3.1. Corpus

As mentioned before the corpus is taken from the German newsmagazine FOCUS, which has been established in 1993 in order to compete against the well-known German magazine Spiegel. The decision to investigate the use of anglicisms in a medium of the press was influenced by several aspects: First and foremost, news magazines help to represent current tendencies and developments in the language use of a nation and furthermore serve as a spring for new word creations. Plümer aptly summarizes:

Da die Mediensprache im Allgemeinen als Spiegel und Verbreiter sprachlicher Neuerungen gilt und ihr außerdem eine überaus große Nähe zur Gemeinsprache attestiert wird, bietet sie sich als idealer Untersuchungsgegenstand an. (Plümer (2000) in Götzeler 2008: 128)

Secondly, the FOCUS offers the possibility to compare the numerical occurrence of loanwords at two different points in time due to its written from and easy access. Moreover, it also covers a wide range of subjects and topics and thus provides a framework for a differentiating analysis. In this context Onysko states that “the significance of research increases when data are derived from a text corpus which remains thematically coherent over a longer period of time [...] that allows for a diachronic comparison” (2007: 98).

While the use of anglicisms is said to be characteristic for the language of news magazines, this seems to hold true for the FOCUS as well, as the following quote from their business draft shows:

FOCUS wird für die Info-Elite gemacht. Für sie wurde das journalistische Konzept der schnellen Wissensaufnahme geschaffen: News to use in einer klaren, präzisen Sprache sowie die Integration von Fotos, Bildern und Grafiken vermitteln komplexe Sachverhalte anschaulich und auf den Punkt. (FOCUS Objektportrait 2006: 3)

Not only is the FOCUS’ language characterized through a reporting, describing style, which main function is to inform, fascinate and influence the reader, but, analogue to the SPIEGEL, it also serves “as the main port of entry of anglicisms into German due to its similarity to the American newsmagazine Time (Onysko 2007: 99). Additionally, the great acceptance of the FOCUS and widespread range with 5.35 million readers a week (8.3% of the total population) supports the assumption that the FOCUS helps to further extend the use of anglicisms. (cf. Figure 11: Range of FOCUS)

Furthermore, the quotation above offers an insight in the target group of the FOCUS magazine. Distinctive features of the so called Info-Elite are a great demand for information, extensive information search and a tight time schedule. In addition, the average FOCUS reader is male, aged between 30 and 59, employed and has an above-average income. (cf. Figure 13: FOCUS - Readership 2010). According to the Leseranalyse Entscheidungsträger in Wirtschaft und Verwaltung the FOCUS is greatly favored by the German management elite with 24.9% readers, but also has a strong position with the middle stand (24,3%), the self-employed (23,3%) and the chief executives (24,82%). (cf. FOCUS in der LAE 2009). Following Viereck, this could imply a high frequency of anglicisms as “einer Leserschaft mit höherem Bildungsniveau auch im Bereich von Anglizismen mehr zugemutet werden kann“ (1980, 12).Furthermore, it indicates an increase in the number of anglicisms in 2009, as the readership of the FOCUS in 1993 was rather young, had an average education and mainly worked as employees. (cf. Figure 14: FOCUS - Readership 1994)

The fact that the FOCUS was first issued in 1993 also limits a comparative documentation to this year as just no earlier material exists. However, there is also another reason for taking half of the corpus from this year. Being dated quite close to the Fall of the Wall in 1989 and the reunion of the two German states in 1990, the journalistic work has been accompanied by major linguistic changes in the public communication: Along with the unification of the nations, the call for a unified language has grown bigger. (cf. Götzeler 2008: 42-60) As this process has been influenced by the globalization, the leading role of the US, and the increasing dominance of the English language in most domains, it is expected to be reflected in the language of the FOCUS as well. In order to meet the criterion of actuality and to achieve a large time span, the second half of the corpus is taken from the year 2009. Furthermore, so as to achieve the best possible representation for each year, the texts are taken from issues which are evenly spread over the year: For 1993 issues 4 (25.01.), 26 (28.06.) and 52 (27.12) and for 2009 issues 5 (26.01.), 27 (29.06) and 53 (28.12.) have served as a source.

The selection of the categories Deutschland and Modernes Leben3 underlies the assumption that a difference will show in the frequency of anglicisms, as those might be used more often in text which serve to entertain or inform on trivial facts. Margret Altleitner’s research on the distribution of anglicisms according to subject areas from 2007 implements that anglicisms are used less in the handling of articles on politics or current world events. In her analysis of a 20-minute reading of six different newspapers and magazines, the number of anglicisms used more in the section Unterhaltung/Gesellschaftsleben compared to Politik/Zeitgeschehen averaged out to 13. (cf. Altleitner 2007: 118-120) Again, in order to gain a valid outcome, both subject areas are represented evenly with six articles each. Numerically speaking, the corpus consists of twelve articles in total, which are spread equally over the two subject areas. Furthermore, each section is represented with three articles from the years 1993 and 2009. With 6377 words for 1993 and 5055 words for 2009, all in all 11432 words were analyzed. (cf. Figure 26: Survey of Collected Data - Potential Anglicisms)

3.2. Method

In order to elicit the desired data, several steps have been taken. First of all, a wordlist has been created with the help of the software Word List Expert 3.1. This computer program helps to produce a word list from any given text. Moreover, it includes options for customizing and exporting the created lists. The advantage of using this kind of linguistic software was already recognized by Alexander Onysko, who states:

The possibility to generate decontextualized word lists proves beneficial since attention remains focused on the individual types of words in the corpus and anglicisms can be identified faster. (Onysko 2007: 105)

Moreover, word lists can be created for any random constellation and combination of the articles. Thus, not only word lists for every single text have been produced, but also lists that total up all words of one subject area and of one year.

In a next step all obvious German words have been excluded, leaving behind a list of potential anglicisms. Yet, it has also been necessary to recheck various words with the help of the context in order to verify them as anglicisms. This is due to two specific reasons: First of all, the German and the English language are equipped with words that are in fact spelled the same, but either have a different meaning, a different pronunciation or both. (cf. Onysko 2007: 105) Concerning these so called homographs, it is required to check their contextual usage in order to certainly label them as anglicisms. Upon those cases, the words hat, man, will, in and so have occurred especially often. Secondly, the use of English words in proper nouns, “titles of original English works and substantial quotations of English texts could be prematurely interpreted as anglicisms” (Onysko 2007: 105). Since those do not count as anglicisms for this present research, (cf. Chapter 3.3) the number of potential anglicisms has shrunk on an average by a factor of seven. (cf. Figure 26: Survey of Collected Data - Potential Anglicisms; Figure 27: Survey of Collected Data - Anglicisms)

Having completed this step, the rest of the words, namely 780 potential anglicisms need to be proved individually. (cf. Figure 15: Relative Frequency of Potential Anglicisms in %) This has been done with the help of at least two different sources: Primarily, the potential anglicisms have been checked in the Anglizismen-Index of the Verein Deutsche Sprache e.V.4. According to their concept, the Anglizismen-Index is:

sowohl als Buch wie als Netzausgabe, [...] ein Nachschlagewerk für Anglizismen, die in der deutschen Alltagssprache verwendet werden, mit ihren jeweiligen deutschen Entsprechungen. Die Wörterliste wird laufend aktualisiert und enthält gegenwärtig rund 7.200 Einträge. (Verein Deutsche Sprache e.V.: Der Anglizismen-Index)

As stated above, the VDS does not admit words to the index according to their frequency of appearance, but tries to register every new anglicism as soon as possible, in order to avoid its spreading. Thus, the Index is quite up-to-date. Furthermore, it does not contain words which have been fully integrated into the German language and whose origin cannot be identified from their outer appearance: e.g. Keks, Partner, Sport etc.. (cf. Verein Deutsche Sprache e.V.: Der Anglizismen-Index) As the Anglizismen-Index also neglects technical language and terminology, it cannot serve as the only source for verifying the anglicisms. Hence, the Anglizismen-Wörterbuch5 by Carstensen and Busse has been consulted in particular cases. Although it only lists 3500 words, Munske and Götzeler describe it as “das bedeutendste Sprachkontaktwörterbuch überhaupt; die zuverlässigste und nützlichste Quelle zum Beleg der Anglizismen“ (Götzeler 2008: 164). While those two sources have served as the main means of evidence, The Free Dictionary has been referred to additionally, especially in the cases of potential pseudo-anglicisms.

Provided that the potential anglicisms meet the criteria applied for anglicism in this present research, (cf. Chapter 3.3.) and have been verified with the help of either the Anglizismen-Index of the VDS or the AWb, they are considered to be an anglicism. Hereby, the data has been reduced to its absolute amount of anglicisms. (cf. Figure 27: Survey of Collected Data - Anglicisms)

Before the attention is drawn to the evaluation of the extracted data, the following subchapter will briefly present the “parameters for inclusion and exclusion of anglicisms in the corpus analysis” (Onysko 2007: 106).

3.3. Definition of Anglicisms

During the examination of this topic one will inevitably come across various approaches for the definition of the term anglicism, since no universal classification exists. However, as a definition is required by all means, the decision has been made to choose one approach, which matches the proceeding of this research the best. Consequently, following Görlach, an anglicism is defined as:

A word or idiom that is recognizably English in its form (spelling, pronunciation, morphology, or at least one of the three), but is accepted as an item in the vocabulary of the receptor language. (Görlach 2003: 1)

Thus, all words that have been substituted by German words as in loan creations, translation, renderings and meanings are excluded. (cf. Figure 1: Types of Anglicisms) Furthermore, the following directives have been applied: There has no difference been made according to the specific origin of the word as in Americanisms and Briticisms. Moreover, no restrictions have been made concerning the point in time, when the word has been first borrowed. Furthermore, this research partly sticks to Götzeler’s restrictions, as stated in the following quote:

Namen englischstämmiger Personen, englischstämmiger Firmen und Künstlergruppen, geographische Bezeichnungen sowie Bezeichnungen für Institutionen, Organisationen o.Ä. aus dem englischen Sprachraum, rechtlich geschützte Markennamen und Titel englischsprachiger Kunstwerke, auch Bücher und Filme. (2008: 151)

In this connection it should also be mentioned that English quotations and code­switches, e.g. in interviews are excluded. As a consequence potential anglicisms like IPod, California, United Nations or Joy (as in the name of a club) have been eliminated from the list. The subsequent figure serves to outline the different types of anglicisms which are taken into account in this research.


1 This quotation was taken from the song Denglisch by the Wise Guys. Cf.

2 This quotation was taken from the section Personen des öffentlichen Lebens über Deutsch und Denglisch on the website of the Verein Deutsche Sprache e.V:

3 Other permanent subject areas in the FOCUS are: Kultur, Forschung & Technik, Sport, Auto, Medien, Wirtschaft, Ausland, Medizin, Reportage, Rubriken

4 In the following abbreviated VDS.

5 In the following abbreviated AWb the main means of evidence, The Free Dictionary has been referred to additionally, especially in the cases of potential pseudo-anglicisms.

Excerpt out of 36 pages


The Use of Anglicisms in the German Magazine FOCUS
Ernst Moritz Arndt University of Greifswald  (Institut für Fremdsprachliche Philogien)
Contact Linguistics
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
1920 KB
Anglicisms, German, Magazine, FOCUS, untersuchung
Quote paper
Nadja Grebe (Author), 2010, The Use of Anglicisms in the German Magazine FOCUS, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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