Linguistic Landscapes

Analysis of two urban shopping streets in Dresden

Hausarbeit (Hauptseminar), 2008

36 Seiten, Note: 1,3


Table of contents

List of Figures

1 Introduction
1.1 Procedure of the work

2 Contact linguistics
2.1 History of English - German language contact
2.2 Anglicisms
2.2.1 Code-switching/-mixing and borrowings
2.2.2 Reasons for the usage of Anglicisms
2.3 Internationalisms
2.4 The study of linguistic landscapes

3 The survey
3.1 The city of Dresden and the two neighbourhoods examined
3.2 Aims of the survey
3.3 Method
3.4 Results
3.4.1 Overall findings
3.4.2 Shop types
3.4.3 How is language contact realized?

Script formation on bilingual signs


Word plays and creativity

Other interesting findings

4 Conclusion

4.1 Results of the work

4.2 Open problems and outlook


Internet Sources

List of Figures

Figure 1: Total number of shop signs (n=180)

Figure 2: Shop signs on Alaunstraße(n=105)

Figure 3: Shop signs on Pragerstraße (n= 75)

1 Introduction

„Douglas - Come in and find out, or: Douglas - Kommen Sie rein und finden sie wieder heraus.“ [1] This translation reflects the disastrous outcome of the study by Endmark GmbH - a German business for creative brand names - on the comprehension of English advertisement claims in Germany[2]. All in all twelve brand names were tested for their comprehension potential and the results were striking. Ten out of twelve English slogans could not be properly understood by more than 50% of the German target group aging 14 to 49 years. Douglas shortly after that study changed its slogan to: “Douglas macht das Leben schöner”[3].

One might think shop owners know it better by now but as the following study will show still today there is a big number of shops having English or English-German names and/or slogans.

The purpose of the study is to examine the linguistic landscapes of two urban shopping streets in Dresden. The core of this paper is the thesis, that due to its multicultural flair and its many privately-owned shops Alaunstraße will show a more diverse, productive and creative use of English. This thesis will be evaluated with the three core questions:

1) How many monolingual English and multilingual English - (Language other than English) shop signs can be found in the two streets? 2) Do specific types of shops use specific language patterns? 3)How is language contact realized?

1.1 Procedure of the work

After the introduction in the first chapter, chapter two is focussing on contact linguistics. In this chapter the history of German - English language contact is portrayed and the concept of Anglicisms and the study of linguistic landscapes are being explained. The third chapter is devoted to the survey on shop signs in Dresden. Aims, method and results are presented and a conclusion is then drawn in chapter four. The last chapter also gives inspiration for possible further studies on this topic.

2 Contact linguistics

There is no one clear definition of language contact. A very basic and simple definition is given by Thomason: “...language contact is the use of more than one language in the same place at the same time.” (2001: 1) Winford specifies this statement and gives various degrees of language contact, starting at the situation of language maintenance including borrowing situations (casual, moderate, intense) and convergence situations (see 2003:22f.). As a second stage of language contact he defines language shift which implies always a weaker language and as a third stage of language contact he defines language creations which includes pidgins and creoles (see ibid.)[4]. Starting at stage one the linguistic results of language contact range from lexical borrowing to structural borrowing, to moderate and heavy structural and lexical diffusion, to moderate and heavy substratum interference to the creation of pidgins and creoles (see ibid.). He focuses on “...the people speaking the respective languages who have contact with each other and who resort to varying forms of mixture of elements from the languages involved.” (ibid.) The possible results of language contact depend on internal linguistic and external social and psychological factors, e.g. the similarity of the languages involved, the length of the language contact or the power and prestige relationships between them (see ibid.). The objective of the study of language contact he defines as the following: “Its objective is to study the varied situations of contact between languages, the phenomena that result, and the interaction and external ecological factors in shaping these outcomes.” (Winford 2003: 5).

Loveday lists six outcomes of language contact, i.e. borrowing, creative change and adaptation, Code-switching, code-mixing, hybridization, acronaming (see Loveday 1996: 78). He also states that “there are problems with the definition and recognition of contact phenomena which are not already codified in loan-word dictionaries but which abound in advertising and other contexts. In such cases, orthographic and phonetic assimilation play an important role in identification, as does the extent of community acceptability.” (ibid.) In this study we will later see, that there are words used that are not codified in Görlach’s Dictionary of European Anglicisms (2001) but that still have to be analyzed. In most of the cases the examination will focus on orthographic and phonetic assimilation according to Loveday’s conclusion.

2.1 History of English - German language contact

Cultural exchange between Britain and Germany has always been intensive - it dates back to the fifth century when the Germanic settlers who conquered England came from what is now northern Germany and southern Denmark, and the eighths century when much of Germany was Christianized by Irishmen and Englishmen. (Busse and Görlach 2002: 13)

The same authors then give a list with later stages in the history of language contact that are more recent and that have been even more influential on the German language. So in the eighteenth century English culture, e.g. English literature, theatre plays and gardening as well as English science and technology were heavily admired and copied (see ibid.). British technology would then again play a major role during the Industrial Revolution in the ninetieth century as for example steel production or cloth making (see Busse and Görlach 2002: 14). During the third stage that is described by Busse and Görlach various parts of British social life like sports, breeds of dogs and drinks where at fashion at the end of the nineteenth century in Europe (see ibid.). And when immigration to the U.S. started at the beginning of the twentieth century, American music, dances and cars came into fashion (see ibid.). After the Second World War:

The impact of the Anglo-American re-education policy was reflected in newspapers, magazines, plays, films, and popular music. Since the immediate post-war phase the political and cultural orientation towards the United States has led to a broad and steadily growing influx of Anglo-American loanwords. (ibid.)

During the 1990’s the influence of American culture on the German culture grew steadily, globalization being a central scheme facilitated through the internet (see ibid.). Today the situation of language contact between German and English can be described according to Winford as a casual borrowing situation or bilingual mixed languages meaning the incorporation of large portions of an external vocabulary into a maintained grammatical frame (see 2003:22).

2.2 Anglicisms

This paper is based on the definition of Anglicisms by Onysko. Anglicisms according to him are:

...any instance of an English lexical, structural, and phonological element in German that can be formally related to English. This includes a core-area of word-formally salient borrowings, code-switching, and the productive use of English forms in German (semantic changes, hybrids and pseudo-Anglicisms). Furthermore, the term Anglicism also constitutes a borderline area of unmarked borrowings (e.g. Boss, Film, Test, Start) and interference, which is based on word-formal similarity of English and German terms leading to semantic transfer from English to German. (2006: 267)

This definition excludes the broader concept by Busse and Carstensen (1996: 2) that also includes German compounds like Vollbeschäftigung as derived from the English word full employment’ which is often mainly a diachronic speculation. Onysko argues that this view on indirect borrowings, also named calques: “ actually questioning the fundamental ability of languages to create neologisms out if their own material. [...] This belief denies the existence of productivity within a language.” (2004: 60)

According to Onysko this paper differentiates between direct and indirect borrowing. With the first one being words that keep their original English spelling and are often tried to be pronounced the English way (see Onysko 2004 :60). The latter type of borrowings points at words that are loan renditions or loan creations (see Onysko 2004:60).

For Busse and Görlach only those words are Anglicisms that are “characterized by their foreign spelling, pronunciation, and/or morphology.” (2002: 15)

As Onysko already found in his study: “Anglicisms are particularly productive in the creation of hybrid compound nouns (i.e., mixes of German and English elements).” (2004: 62)

2.2.1 Code-switching/-mixing and borrowings

The study is based on code-switching as an important result of language contact since “code-switching has and creates communicative and social meaning, and is in need of an interpretation by [...] analysts.” (Auer 1998: 1)

Thomason gives seven mechanisms of contact induced language change: Codeswitching (within a conversation), code alternation (in different contexts), passive familiarity (only understanding not producing), negotiation (adapting to the other person’s language), second-language acquisition strategies, bilingual first-language acquisition, deliberate decision (change of language to be different) (see 2001: 129ff.). For the purpose of this paper we will put the focus on code-switching and -mixing since for shop signs the others are not really applicable.

According to the Routledge Dictionary of Language and Linguistics code-switching can be seen as a switch between language varieties either depending on the situation in 4 combination with normative rules (external influence) or on conversational context like irony vs. seriousness (see Bussmann 1996: 78). According to Winford code-switching involves: “...the alternate use of two languages (or dialects) within the same stretch of speech, often within the same sentence.” (2003: 14)

Code-mixing has a more blurred definition. Winford even describes code-mixing with the terms inter- and intra-sentential switching (see ibid.). Thomason gives the following definition:

Code-switching is the use of material from two (or more) languages by a single speaker in the same conversation [...] The general topic is sometimes subdivided into two categories, code-switching - intersentential switching, which is switching from one language to another at a sentence boundary - and code- mixing or intrasentential switching, in which the switch comes with a single sentence. (2001: 132)

It is to be noted that most books on language contact are concerned with the outcomes of language contact in conversations. The outcomes of language contact however can as well be documented and analysed in written language use, be it with press publications or the language use on shop signs as it is done in this study.

In this paper monolingual use of English on shop signs will be regarded as code- switching whereas English and German use on a single shop sign will be regarded as code-mixing. One sign equals one sentence according to Thomason’s definition. Code- switching and -mixing is used to fill a lexical gap in the other language, as euphemism and to refer to someone who is a member of the other language community (see Thomason 2001: 132).

The difference between code-switches and borrowings is, that “code switched elements are not integrated into the receiving language’s structure, whereas borrowed elements are nativized - adapted to the structure of the receiving language.” (Thomason 2001: 134) This adaptation can happen through morphology, syntax or phonology (see ibid.). Winford also talks of “nonce” borrowing as another name for code-mixing (see Winford 2003: 41). He states that borrowing and code-mixing are governed by different dynamics:

The process by which foreign vocabulary becomes established as an integral part of a group’s native language must be distinguished from the processes of accommodation that lead bilinguals to adopt ‘nonce’ borrowings from an external source language when they engage in code mixing or code switching. (ibid.)

The line between the two phenomena is thin since borrowing can be a result of constant code-switching and -mixing (see Winford 2003: 108).

It should be noted that 75 percent of the words of the English language are borrowings originally that can be traced back to language contact throughout the centuries (see Winford 2003: 29). “Lexical borrowing is an extremely common form of cross- linguistic influence, and few, if any, languages are impervious to it.” (Winford 2003: 29) Lexical borrowings according to Winford can be further divided into loanwords and loanshifts (see 2003: 43).

Busse and Görlach as well give a kind of hierarchy of types of borrowings (see 2002: 29). The first types are borrowings that are “totally unadapted and not felt to be part of German (quotation words, code-switching, foreignisms).” (ibid.) The second type is characterized as “words still looking foreign in form or entirely unadapted (=Fremdwörter, aliens)” (ibid.) and the third type being “fully integrated items (=Lehnwörter [loanwords], denizens).” (ibid.)

The difference between the first and second type of borrowings however is very hard to tell. In addition the authors give various types of loanwords such as loan translations (calques), loan rendering (not the whole items is being translated), loan creation (a word whose coinage was prompted by the English item), semantic loans (German words takes over one meaning of the English partial equivalent) and pseudo loans (words that look like English items but that don’t exist in the donor language) (see Busse and Görlach 2002: 29).

Busse and Görlach declare that:

Recent years have seen a drastic increase in non-integrated English words, many of which are apparently not intended as loanwords but are to be interpreted as instances of code-switching used [...] to draw attention to the form of the text. (2002:18)

This quote stresses what has been mentioned previously in this chapter. The authors also give wordplay as a reason for the use of English elements in the German language (see ibid.).

2.2.2 Reasons for the usage of Anglicisms

According to Onysko there are 6 reasons for using Anglicisms in German. He states the reasons semantic motivations (new products that carry their original terminology with them, stylistic motivations (as a means of variation), euphemistic (for a softening effect of German swear words), emotive (as a means of being modern, hip and educated), social (to establish a kind of group identity e.g. in the Snowboard community), conveniently short (since English is morphologically simpler) (see 2004: 62). Onysko studied the articles of a German magazine however his motivation theory can be transferred to the use of English on shop signs as well. Especially the motive of being modern when using English shop names seems very likely.

This position is also held by Ross, who studied shop signs in Milan and states:

A sign in English, even in an English of sorts, is therefore a sign of prestige, style and modernity - factors which are very dear to the Milanese, as well as to many people the world over [...] The role that English plays today in the world is therefore due in part to the appeal of Anglo-American lifestyles, values and cultures. (Ross 1997: 31)

Winford mentions need and prestige as two factors for lexical borrowings (see 2003: 37). The need for new words derives from the direct cultural contact and therefore the need to describe new things from the other culture (see ibid.). Anglicisms are used for prestige reasons when a certain culture is connotated with positive and up-to-date values often transferred via new telecommunication possibilities such as the internet.

2.3 Internationalisms

For this study it is also useful to consider McArthur’s concept of ‘internationalisms’. These are: “...items without a precise home anymore, either geographically or linguistically - regardless of their ultimate sources and of any on-going associations they may have with aspects of life in one place or culture.” (McArthur 2000: 38f.) (Such words are for example: city, park, disc, copy, mode, bar, boutique, kebab, sushi (see ibid.). He states that such words will hardly be recognised as foreign words in a few years time, if that isn’t already the case and their ethnocultural origins will hardly signify (see McArthur 2000:36). McArthur describes the usage of English on signs throughout the world as Interanto, which is:

...widespread, functional, on occasion serious, on occasion humorous, and belongs to everybody, but is hardly a tool of linguistic imperialism or Big Brother in business, and nobody would dream of fighting to the death for it - or against it. Nor does anybody regulate or teach it, yet it flourishes like the green bay tree. (McArthur 2000:40)

Even wider perspectives on internationalism have Busse and Görlach when they state that internationalism are “English words [...]coined from Latin/Greek elements and are [...] fully integrated on the basis of earlier internationalisms from other sources.”

(2002:15). The authors name the following loanwords in their German form as an example: “telegram, television, telephone or transistor.” (ibid.)

2.4 The study of linguistic landscapes

The study of linguistic landscapes is a very recent development (see Gorter 2006:2). Landry and Bourhis gave important impulses for the emergence of this study field with their publication in the Journal of Language and Social Psychology in 1997. It was there that they defined the term linguistic landscape as:

The language of public road signs, advertising billboards, street names, place names, commercial shop signs, and public signs on government buildings combines to form the linguistic landscape of a given territory, region or urban agglomeration. (cited in Gorter: 2 )

And as Gorter concludes: “...[researchers] are concerned with the use of language in its written form in the public sphere.” ( ibid.)

3 The survey

3.1 The city of Dresden and the two neighbourhoods examined

Dresden was chosen since this is the author’s hometown and the author therefore has a proper socio-cultural background knowledge concerning the several city quarters. Dresden has about 500,000 inhabitants. Having been completely destroyed during World War II, it is a lively and growing city with high potential. From the middle of the 1990’s onwards, many big international business mainly of the IT-industries settled in Dresden and brought work and with it also foreign workers to Dresden. The existence of an international residential situation can also be manifested in the existence of an international school.

Out of the many quarters that constitute the city, the two neighbourhoods Altstadt and Neustadt have been selected since they stand for the two city quarters that couldn’t be more different. Re-established after World War II in very purist, spacious Marxist architectural style, Prager Straße is the main shopping street in the neighbourhood called Dresden-Altstadt. This quarter is the city centre with all the historic buildings at the one end and a shopping paradise at the other. This is the part of the city where tourists usually go first. It is a pedestrian precinct, so it provides for a relaxed shopping atmosphere.


[1] Endmark GmbH:

[2] Endmark GmbH:

[3] Douglas:

[4] For a complete overview on the stages of language contact see the table in Winford 2003:23 and a very similar approach in Loveday 1996: 13ff.

Ende der Leseprobe aus 36 Seiten


Linguistic Landscapes
Analysis of two urban shopping streets in Dresden
Ernst-Moritz-Arndt-Universität Greifswald  (Institut für Anglistik/Amerikanistik)
HS „Linguistic Landscapes“
ISBN (eBook)
6050 KB
Linguistik, Linguistics, Linguistic Landscapes, Englische Linguistik, English Linguistics, Kontaktlinguistik, Contact linguistics, Shop signs
Arbeit zitieren
M.A. Maria Schmeiser (Autor), 2008, Linguistic Landscapes, München, GRIN Verlag,


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