An Analysis of How Socio-demographic Variables Affect the Perception of English in German Advertising

Bachelor Thesis, 2018

48 Pages, Grade: 2,0


Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. Advertising Language
2.1 The Aim of Advertising
2.2 The Importance of Advertising Language
2.3 The Slogan

3. Why is English popular among Advertisers?
3.1 Pragmatic Reasons
3.2 Sociocultural Factors
3.3 Corporate Motivation for using English Slogans

4. Varying Language Attitudes towards the Influence of English on the German Language
4.1. Adolescents
4.2 Criticism of Anglicisms and Purist Movement
4.3 Studies on the Perception of Anglicisms and English in Advertising

5. Online-Survey: Researching the associative and connotative value of English in Advertising
5.1 Methodology
5. 2 Results
5.2.1 Sociodemographic Characteristics of the Participants
5.2.2 The associative values of English and German Slogans
5.2.3 The Connotation of Anglicisms and English in German Advertising

6. Discussion

7. Conclusion



Diese Bachelorarbeit wird sich mit der Forschungsfrage auseinandersetzen, wie soziodemografische Merkmale die Wahrnehmung von Anglizismen und der englischen Sprache in der deutschen Werbung beeinflussen. Es werden der assoziative Wert und der konnotative Wert des Englischen in der Werbung in Abhängigkeit von soziodemografischen Daten untersucht. Hierzu wird eine empirische Untersuchung stattfinden, bei der ein Online-Fragebogen 170 Personen zugeschickt wird. Diese Personen müssen deutsche Muttersprachler sein, im Bundesgebiet aufgewachsen sein und den Großteil ihres Lebens in Deutschland verbracht haben.

Der Fragebogen ist so konzipiert, um fünf Hypothesen, die sich mit der Forschungsfrage auseinandersetzen, zu validieren oder zu widerlegen. Diese sind:

1. Die assoziative Wahrnehmung von englischen Slogans unterscheidet sich maßgeblich von der assoziativen Wahrnehmung von deutschen Slogans.
2. Die konnotative Wahrnehmung des Englischen in der Werbung wird durch das Alter beeinflusst. Je älter eine Person ist, desto negativer ist ihre konnotative Wahrnehmung des Englischen.
3. Die konnotative Wahrnehmung des Englischen in der Werbung wird durch den Bildungsgrad beeinflusst. Je höher der Bildungsstand einer Person ist, desto positiver ist ihre konnotative Wahrnehmung des Englischen.
4. Die konnotative Wahrnehmung des Englischen in der Werbung wird durch die regionale Herkunft beeinflusst. Das Aufwachsen in einem ländlicheren Raum aufgewachsen wirkt sich – im Vergleich zum Aufwachsen im städtischen Raum – negativ auf die konnotative Wahrnehmung des Englischen aus.
5. Das Geschlecht hat keinen Einfluss auf die konnotative Wahrnehmung des Englischen in der Werbung.

Der der empirischen Untersuchung vorangestellte theoretische Teil wird zunächst einen kurzen Einblick in die Werbesprache geben und ihre Bedeutung für die übergeordnete Werbung besprechen. Anschließend wird sich mit der Frage auseinandergesetzt, warum die englische Sprache für viele deutsche Werbetreibende bereits seit mehreren Jahrzenten beliebt ist und demnach auch häufig für Werbezwecke verwendet wird. Die stark variierenden Ansichten gegenüber dem Gebrauch des Englischen und des Einflusses des Englischen auf die deutsche Sprache werden im Anschluss dargelegt. Hier werden auch bisherige empirische Untersuchungen bezüglich der Wahrnehmung des Englischen in der Werbung aufgezeigt. Danach wird die für diese Thesis durchgeführte Umfrage näher besprochen, beginnend mit der Methodik. Im Anschluss werden die Ergebnisse präsentiert und diskutiert, um den Wahrheitsgehalt der Hypothesen aufzuzeigen, diese zu begründen und unvorhergesehene Auffälligkeiten bezüglich der Ergebnisse zu erklären.

1. Introduction

“English seems to be surrounded by an aura that the German language is apparently missing” (Schlüter, 2012, p. 12).

With regard to advertising in Germany, it becomes difficult to disagree with this statement by Schlüter. For several decades anglicisms and English expressions have been used for promotional purposes in television-, print-, and online-advertising. “Professional Hair Care for you”, “Powered by Emotion” and “Driven by Instinct” are only a few of the many popular slogans in Germany. The “aura” has been utilized by companies in multiple industries for many years resulting in a consistent growth in the number of anglicisms and English expressions used in the past. This quantitative increase has been exhibited by many researchers, most notably by Schütte. She concluded that from 1951 until 1991 the amount of anglicisms in the slogans, headlines and continuous texts of her corpus of print advertisements grew by over 400% (Schütte, 1996, p.183). In her corpus Slogans featured an especially high increase of anglicisms, growing from 5 in 1951 to 153 in 1991 (Schütte, 1996, p. 183). Meder came to similar realization, denoting a great increase of anglicisms used in selected German men’s and women’s magazines in the years 1983, 1993 and 2003 (Meder, 2006, p. 242-244). This trend of anglicisms and English expressions being incorporated into the German language – and also advertising – is presumed to continue with the number of expressions deriving from the English language increasing (Busse, 2002, p. 31).

Hence, the quantitative presence of the English language in German advertising is virtually undeniable. However, advertising is a form of communication in which the advertiser’s objective is to generate a certain attitude within the recipient towards the advertising object.1 Thus, it is of substantial value to understand who perceives advertising containing English in the way the advertiser wishes it to be perceived. Past studies that have dealt with the perception of English and anglicisms in advertising oftentimes merely focused on the factor of comprehension. Researchers concluded that the positive perception of English correlated with the person’s command of English (Fink, 1977). Hence, if advertisers were targeting a rather educated group with a presumably high level of comprehension, the use of English would be effective, and vice versa. Later studies, however, revealed that the positive perception of English did not necessarily depend on the person’s command of English and people with comprehension issues also associated English with positive values (Schütte, 1996, p. 49). Hence, the question remains who perceives the “aura” of the English language in advertising and which variables influence their respective perception.

Although many factors come into play when studying the perception of the English language in advertising, one promising approach is focusing on the socio-demographic background of people. This led to the research question of this thesis being how sociodemographic variables affect the perception of English in German Advertising. In order to answer this question an online survey will be devised and distributed among persons who meet specific requirements. These requirements as well as the structure and the methods used for the questionnaire will be discussed in Chapter 5.1 “Methodology”. Afterwards, the results of the conducted survey will be presented and then discussed. Five hypotheses will either be validated or proven to be false. The first being that the associative values of English and German slogans strongly vary among German consumers. Furthermore, the connotative perception of English in advertising is affected by age (second hypothesis), by level of education (third hypothesis) and by the regional origin of the respective participants (fourth hypothesis). The fifth and last hypothesis states that gender will not have a significant influence on the connotative perception.

Before evaluating and discussing the results of the conducted questionnaire, it will be important to gain an understanding for the current state of research in the field of the perception of English in advertising. In order to do so, the second chapter will deal with advertising language. Here, advertising language will be put into a hierarchal context of advertisement and the objectives of advertising will be elaborated on. In addition, the function of language as an important and indispensable component of advertising will be carved out. Advertising strategies in terms of language will also be touched on. Lastly, the slogan will be discussed in detail. Since a main part of the questionnaire will feature various English and German slogans, it will be important to elaborate on the functions of a slogan as well its importance to advertisers. Chapter three will shed light on why the English language has become so popular for German advertisers. A distinction will be made between the pragmatic reasons of English in advertising and sociocultural factors that have led to its esteem.

In order to gain insight in the corporation’s actual reasons for using English in their advertising, the results of two past studies will be discussed. Beginning with the adolescents’ perception, the varying language attitudes towards the influence of English on the German language will be discussed in chapter four. Adolescents have proven themselves to be especially open to appropriating English terms and expressions into their vocabulary; consequently coining current and past youth language with many anglicisms. Opposite to adolescents’ attitude, there have also been many critics of the integration of English into the German language. This common view has resulted in influential groups and organizations being formed with the aim of upholding the German language and rejecting English terms that have adequate German counterparts. This “new purist society”2 will also be explicated in chapter four. Chapter four will also deal with past studies analyzing the perception of the English language in advertising by presenting varying methodologies and results of these past studies. After discussing the results of the survey conducted for this thesis in chapter five, chapter six will conclude this thesis by summing up the findings and answering the question of how socio-demographic factors influence the perception of English in German advertising.

2. Advertising Language

2.1 The Aim of Advertising

Before discussing advertising language and its characteristics in detail, the actual goals of advertising need to be analyzed first. Advertising language is a facet of advertising. Therefore, language is always a strategic measure within the superordinate advertising. It should be noted that despite the many linguistic and stylistic peculiarities and techniques - including the use of anglicisms and the English language -, the varying forms of appearance and the medium used for distribution, advertising language always have a certain function (Sulikan, 2012, p. 5).

In most industries of today’s free market the majority of products are offered in an oversaturated manner, which is why companies are under immense competitive pressure to secure market share. As a result of the competitive situation, it is no longer possible to advertise solely with information on price, quality and utility value; or as Vestergaard and Schroder state “advertising technique changed from proclamation to persuasion” (Vestergaard and Schroder, 1985, p. 4). The informative and rational content of advertising is still of importance, but it is no longer sufficient to survive on the market and capture market share (Janos, 2007, p. 7). Therefore, today's advertisers tend to focus on stimulating the emotions of the consumer and thus creating a need for the advertised product or service within the consumer (Rucker, 2017). This occurs when the consumer has a connection to the product or company. This connection is generated when the consumer develops an accumulation of positive associations to the product. This results in an affirmative attitude towards the advertising object, which – from the company or manufacturer's point of view – should ultimately lead to the consumer's intention to buy (Rucker, 2017). In summary, advertising is used to influence attitudes, opinions, expectations or behavior in such a way that the advertising measures utilized prove to be as profitable as possible for the company (Janos, 2007, p. 7). Garbe and Nieroda-Korwal offer a definition of the system of advertising goals by dividing them into four elements: Creating topicality of the offer, triggering emotions for the offer at the customer, conveying information about the offer and finally generating positive psychological effects within the customer leading to the purchase of the product (Garbe & Nieroda-Korwal, 2016, p. 52).

2.2 The Importance of Advertising Language

Advertising language is a tool for advertisers that is indispensable for achieving the previously discussed goals. Advertising language is always utilized in order to influence the consumer’s attitude and action towards the advertising object (Sulikan, 2012, p. 5). Although other factors such as visuals, music, color, etc. also play a role in advertising, language is of particular importance: “Advertising is business of words as 50 to 75 percent of selling power of advertising lies in the words of advertising” (Ke & Wang, 2013, p. 275). This raises the questions why language is so important to advertising considering that advertising consists of many other facets.

Firstly, this is due to the fact that language is virtually always used in advertising regardless of the respective medium. Radio advertising, for example, is audible and therefore solely verbal language is available (Sulikan, 2012, p. 11). In print advertising, on the other hand, language is only possible in written form. It is important to mention that the media-dependent forms of language have advantages and disadvantages, but both allow a high degree of creativity and ingenuity. In print advertising, for example, size and color of the text can be changed to arouse interest and ultimately have the most positive effect on the reader. Furthermore, the length of texts in print advertising can also vary considerably, which is why a broader spectrum of information is conveyable for the advertiser. In audio and audiovisual advertising, on the other hand, many paralinguistic aspects such as tone, pitch, tempo, gestures and facial expressions play a major role. These features are of course linked to what is being said and are therefore also an important part of the language used.

As mentioned in 2.1 the purely informative content of advertising often fades into the background nowadays. Products and services will often be marketed with other strategies such as evoking feelings such happiness and contentment within the consumer (Rucker, 2017). Advertising language is therefore never spontaneous, which is why many understand it as "staged communication" (Janich, 2013, p. 45). Therefore, careful planning of language and wording must take place in advance, as it can be disadvantageous for the advertiser if the message that is meant to be communicated is misunderstood or not understood at all.3 Moreover, the language used by companies has an image-generating effect. Thus, the advertising language reflects the way a company desires to be perceived as (Garbe & Nieroda-Korwal, 2016, p. 104). In order to achieve the desired image and communicate with certain target groups, companies utilize “specific linguistic aspects such as dialects, child- and youth language […] or make use of technical terminology” (Elsen, 2004, p. 93). Hence, the image a company desires to portray is connected to the language they use in advertising. Due to its inevitability, language is an important component of advertising which must be precisely planned and utilized. Also of importance is the multifaceted nature of the language and the many opportunities it offers advertisers to make the strongest possible impression on potential buyers.

2.3 The Slogan

Since a main part of my online-survey will feature and deal with English and German slogans, slogan as well as its functions need to be discussed. Ke and Wang define slogan as “[…] a short phrase in part used to help form an image, identity, or position for a band or an organization and is established by repeating the phrase in a firm’s advertisement and other public communication as well as through sales people, event promotions […]” (Ke & Wang, 2013, p. 276). This definition offers a legitimate explanation for slogans but also implies their high level of importance for companies.

According to Ke and Wang the main function of the slogan is to attract the consumer’s attention quickly and for as long as possible which has led them to propose the foundational rules for slogans. These being attentive value, memorability and readability and selling power (Ke & Wang, 2013, p. 276). Firstly, a high attentive value is achieved by using language of “immediate impact and rapid persuasion” (Ke & Wang, 2013, p. 276). Advertisers are aware of the fact that their time to attract interest is very short since consumers mostly just skim advertising texts or only pay a very limited amount of attention to television commercials, for instance. Thus, slogans must present the advertising object in the most attractive and interesting way in a very short time frame. From an advertiser’s point of view, a product, brand and company should be successful for as long as possible. This occurs when the advertising object remains relevant for its potential consumers leading to sales. The slogan is a powerful tool to achieve this effect which is why slogans are also characterized by their frequent repetition and very long service life. Ke and Wang describe this factor as memorability. In order to achieve the high level of memorability, readability is also of great importance. Readability is achieved through a “simple, colloquial style and familiar vocabulary so as to make the message easy to read and grasp, while the phonological regularities are easy to remember” (Wang & Ke, 2013, p. 277). Garbe and Nieroda-Korwal describe this style as a "brief and concise verbal form" (Garbe & Nieroda-Korwal, 2016, p. 104). The short or even incomplete sentences can usually be easily memorized by the consumer. This is exhibited by slogans often establishing themselves as proverbs as part of everyday and colloquial language (e.g.: "Just do it” – Nike) (Garbe & Nieroda-Korwal, 2016, p. 105). The last rule of Ke and Wang is selling power – which states that the consumer buys what he or she is influenced by “directly or indirectly, consciously or unconsciously” (Ke & Wang, 2013, p. 277). Thus, the slogan must be as influential as possible since this translates into sales. Furthermore, the slogan does not only advertise temporarily, but also functions as a "business card" for a certain product or for a company (Garbe & Nieroda-Korwal, 2016, p. 104).

The actual content of the slogan is usually rather broad and unspecific. Hence, a detailed explanation of the individual aspects of a product, a brand or a company that set it apart from its competitors, for example, can only be communicated to a limited extent. However, this restriction supports the recognition value since a detailed product or company-related characterization or explanation is naturally more difficult for the consumer to remember. If a slogan is able to convey a large amount of content while being of a certain brevity, it is said to be even more effective (Ke & Wang, 2013, p. 276).

3. Why is English popular among Advertisers?

3.1 Pragmatic Reasons

Kupper views the denotation of new things as one of the main reasons for borrowing foreign-language vocabulary. Oftentimes it is easier to extract a word from a foreign language for something that does not exist in one's own culture or language than to introduce a new less accurate word in one's own language (Kupper, 2006, p. 58). Schütte agrees with this opinion and describes the cause of these reasons for linguistic borrowings as “rational reasons” (Schütte, 1996, p. 58). Schütte considers the use of established English terms such as software or chat, for instance, to be of rational use. Similar to Kupper, she is of the opinion that it "hardly makes sense" to replace these terms with newly established German words (Schütte, 1996, p. 58). The rational use depends heavily on the industry and can be found particularly in the technical sector. Due to the rapid development of the technology sector since the 1970s, an increased use of anglicisms in technology-related advertising is visible (Schütte, 1996, p. 60). The most prominent example for this occurrence are terms deriving from computer language such as bug, Powerpoint, email and enter. After being introduced to the German language, these words quickly established themselves as widely accepted terms. While some have adequate German translations that are just not common (e.g. elektronische Post for email) others such as Powerpoint, for instance, are names of computer software that do not have a specific German titles. Advertisements for travel destinations and tour operators is also strongly influenced by English technical terms and, thus, are also of rational use (Schütte, 1996, p. 60).

Due to its role as the global lingua franca and an estimated number of 1-2 billion speakers worldwide (Kupper, 2007, p. 61), the English language naturally functions as an international means of communication. Therefore, the use of English is of great advantage for companies who want to be competitive on the international market as English advertising is applicable in various countries. Hence, the advertising object becomes internationally recognizable in multiple countries (Sulikan, 2012, p. 172). Rinner-Kawaii examined the motivation and function of anglicisms on the basis of factual-functional and stylistic-emotional reasons in Japanese and German magazines from 1983. She concluded that apart from language economics and linguistic precision, the desire for international communication was also a pragmatic reason for using English (Rinner-Kawaii, 1991, p. 349).

3.2 Sociocultural Factors

“Purely English slogans are used to signalize cosmopolitanism and internationality and to attract the attention of the recipient” (Sulikan, 2012, p. 171).

This implies that the English language has a special status in comparison to other languages which raises the question of how this status was achieved. Schelper came to the conclusion that borrowing from English is a purely socio-economic phenomenon. In her opinion, a language spreads due to external events and circumstances (Schelper, 1995, p. 114). The decisive factors are mainly of historical, economic, political and cultural nature of a nation. Kupper makes use of Schelpers conclusions and describes them as extra-linguistic factors. She refers to the special international position of the U.S.A. as today's military and economic power and Great Britain as a former colonial and world trade power (Kupper, 2007, p. 60-61).4 As a result of the special positions of the two countries mentioned, the English language has a strong influence on various cultural aspects in countries around the world.

In the context of the use of English in German advertising, extra-linguistic factors of cultural nature are of great importance. This is due to the fact that many companies focus on topicality, relevance and cultural circumstances in their advertising. Thus, the use of English in German advertising can be traced back to three of the extra-linguistic factors listed by Kupper. First, the relocation of art, fashion, science and technology centers from Europe to the United States after World War II. A gradual reversal of the direction of cultural exchange took place (Kupper, 2007, p. 60). The role of the U.S.A. as today's most successful producer of popular music, film and TV releases must also be added here. This success is based on the early development of a particularly high standard in the areas of advertising and entertainment techniques (Kupper, 2007, p. 60). Lastly, the values associated with the English language are of great importance. These values include freedom, progress, power, wealth, success and social advancement, a cosmopolitan lifestyle and youthfulness (Kupper, 2007, p. 60). Kupper justifies this connection between certain positive values and the English language with the "adoption of the achievements of modern American industrial and consumer society" (Kupper, 2007, p. 60). Schütz adequately summarizes this view by describing the U.S.A. as a "bearer of positive values" establishing the associative mental coherence between the English language and these values (Schütz, 1968, p. 134).

As already mentioned, clarification in the description of facts, processes and products in specialist areas is a frequently cited reason for using foreign borrowings. However, connections have also been made between the use of English and the "imposing behavior" of people by attempting to express a higher linguistic and intellectual level and prestige (Stedje, 1994, p. 168). This is the case "if one uses unnecessarily many technical terms and inflated formulations to show one's affiliation to the circle of the initiated or scientifically educated" (Stedje, 1994, p. 168). The increased or even redundant use of anglicisms is, therefore, also seen as a means whereby people want to imply a more respected social status through their applied language. The German linguist Kotthoff takes a similar stance and goes as far as describing the use of anglicisms as “Imponier-Deutsch”5. She states that by using anglicisms the language producer communicates that “I am not only educated but also am part of international community6 (Kotthoff, 2011).

A frequently discussed factor that plays a major role in professional context is the euphemizing and enhancing function of the English language. In job advertisements the English job title often times overshadows the true value of work or, as Kruff describes it, "makes the dusty image of a profession sexy'" (Kruff, 2014, p. 245). A popular example for this occurrence can be seen with the term facility manager for the traditional profession of a janitor. This peculiarity can be traced back to the fact that some English words enjoy a particularly positive connotation in German. This can be seen in the example of the manager, whose tasks are considered to be of very high quality. Consequently the position is regarded as being respectable (Kruff, 2014, p. 250). The perception of specific jobs can change because of the substitution of a traditional German term for a job title with an English term that is more appealing. This works in the interest of the employer. Merely the descriptions change while the actual profession – and tasks it bears – remain the same.

This shows that from a socio-cultural point of view the use of English expressions in advertising can be very advantageous because the English language can express positive characteristics and values that derived from the American culture. On the German employment market, English job descriptions have gained popularity due to their euphemizing nature, making improving the perception of traditional occupations. While this is to the dismay of critics, it is to the advantage of employers in certain lines of work. And while English is oftentimes used in specialist areas, the inflationary or unnecessary use of English can have a rather negative effect as it can then be seen as a way to improve the perception of someone in a boasting manner.

3.3 Corporate Motivation for using English Slogans

Gabriele Steinebach's 1990 study, based on the results of Udo Kleine's work from 1989 which analyzed advertisements in 156 German popular magazines on the use of English slogans, serves as a practical approach for determining the reasons for the use of English in German advertising. He found 360 English slogans, of which Steinebach selected 50 for her study. She then turned to the respective companies that had used the slogans and sent a questionnaire to the 50 companies. The questionnaire dealt with discussing and identifying, among other things, the markets of use, the key reasons for using the slogan, questions of understanding, identifying the target group, assessing the slogan's advertising effectiveness and the associations that the slogan should evoke. She received 41 completed questionnaires, which corresponds to a relatively high response rate of 81%. Only the decisive reasons for the use of slogans and the questions about the assessment and importance of understanding are relevant for this work. Therefore, only the results of these two criteria are discussed in more detail.

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Table 1 - Corporate reasons for using English slogans from Steinebach’s Study (Steinebach, 1990, p. 72)

Table 1 displays the corporate reasons for using the English slogans as well as the respective number of their mentions.7 The primary value that was supposed to be expressed through the use of an English slogan was internationality. This means that the slogan should be internationally understandable (70%) but should also generate an international image for the product or company (66%). 25 companies (61%) stated that the slogans should address the specific target group. Expressiveness was also a common reason with 22 entries (54%). 21 companies (51%) stated the rather vague reason that English slogans induced the associations the companies desired to generate within the consumer. When focusing on the frequently mentioned characteristics which were attributed to the English slogans from the company's point of view, the "desired" associations are concretized. These include "modern", "catchy" (both 16 entries = 39%), "precise" (15 entries = 37%), "original", "interesting" and "giving the product a good image" (8 entries = 20% each).

The information provided by companies to assess comprehensibility and the importance of comprehensibility is also relevant, as mentioned above. Although a third of the companies were aware that incomprehensibility could have an adverse effect on their advertising objectives, they assumed that their slogans would be understood by their target groups. This implies a certain "naivety" of the slogan users and is confirmed by their assessment of the criterion of comprehensibility (Fink, 1995, p. 179). Eleven companies rated the level of comprehensibility of their slogan as "very high", 25 companies regarded the understanding as "high" and only five companies regarded the understanding as "mediocre". No company stated "low" or "very low". The assessment of the importance of comprehensibility varied considerably. Only eleven companies rated the importance of comprehensibility as "very important", 22 as "important". Seven companies viewed the comprehension of the slogan as "less important" and one company even as "unimportant". This data shows that companies often assume that their English slogans are understood by their target group, but do not think that being understood is overly important. Their research did not give a clear result as to whether certain age groups were targeted but 95% of the companies stated that English slogans were excluded for target persons over 55 years of age.

Schmidt and Stadler achieved results similar to those of Steinebach. Schmidt and Stadler also investigated the reasons for the use of English expressions in German advertising. They sent a questionnaire to twelve companies, of which eight responded. Among other aspects, their questionnaire also dealt with the reasons for use and the assessment of the understanding for the target groups. The companies most frequently cited the "international character" as the reason for using English slogans. In second place was "greater precision" and as the third most frequently mentioned reason was "greater memorability". The aspect of internationality also emerged as the main reason for the use of English slogans in the Schmidt and Stadler study. Although “precision” was not as important in the Steinebach study, it was also mentioned by some companies (37%) to be a criterion for use. A new reason that did not emerge from the Steinebach study was the strong memorability that is often considered important by the companies surveyed. The companies assumed broad comprehensibility of their slogans, as well. Seven of the eight companies felt that their slogan would be understood. Only one company saw the understanding of their slogan as "approximate". Here, companies also believed that their slogans were understandable for the recipients.

4. Varying Language Attitudes towards the Influence of English on the German Language

4.1. Adolescents

The depiction of American youth culture and related styles in clothing, behavior, and personal relationships conveyed through film and music are particularly identifiable phenomena of Americanization 8. These entertainment media, clothing styles and behavior have been consistently appropriated by teenagers in Germany since the 1950s (Baacke, 1999, p. 9). However, the linguistic aspect of this process must not be overlooked. The English language, whether formal or colloquial, is also spreading in the course of Americanization. This has strongly influenced youth language (Neuland, 2018, p. 32). The media supports the dissemination process of the youth language. In advertising this is achieved through the integration of youth-typical expressions in advertising texts (Neuland, 2018, p. 122). An example of this would be: Product XY [ kommt gut, ist (h)ammer, ist cool, ist krass]. Expressions used by the younger part of society to communicate a positive perception of product XY are used here (Neuland, 2018, p. 122). The aim of the use of youth language is to address young people with advertising and ultimately to influence them. Consequently, anglicisms must also be particularly popular in advertising aimed at young people.


1 Chapter 2 „Advertising Language“ will give a detail insight on the functions and aims of advertising as well the importance of advertising language.

2 Busse uses this term in the essay German when he refers to the establishment of these groups as well as people who share their opinion (Busse, 2002, p. 17).

3 Schütte concludes that when focusing on the perception of English slogans in German advertising the factor of comprehensibility is less relevant. It is rather the associations that are expressed through the English language than the actual content (Schütte 1996, 200). Samland is of a similar opinion and describes this phenomenon as the “popmusiceffect”, meaning that one could find something appealing without understanding it (Samland 2006, 124).

4 Kupper also lists linguistic-stylistic factors that she refers to as inner-linguistic factors for the use of English (Kupper 2007, 61 f.). These are of minor importance from a sociolinguistic point of view, which is why they are only mentioned here in passing. First of all, there is the tendency for brevity in the English language. This can be seen in several linguistic areas. On the one hand, there is the monosyllabic nature of many adopted Anglicisms. These are so scarce, accurate, easy to use, memorable and therefore very practical. Furthermore, the English language tends towards syntactic brevity in condensed syntactic structures, which also correlates with the German domestic tendency towards brevity. If one compares the English colloquial language with that of German, the required vocabulary of English is much smaller. In addition, the grammar is of a less complex nature than that of the German language, since many of the Indo-European grammar categories such as genus, case and complex conjugations no longer exist in English.

5 The literal translation of the term is “Impress-German” meaning that this form of language is used to impress listeners or readers and, thus, to be perceived especially positive.

6 In the original German quote she uses also uses the anglicism community expressing a certain degree of irony since her article is critical of the use of anglicisms.

7 The text in the original figure was written in German due to Steinebach’s study being concluded in German. It was translated into English for this thesis.

8 The Longman dictionary defines the verb Americanize as “to change a society, language, system etc. so that it becomes more American character”.

Excerpt out of 48 pages


An Analysis of How Socio-demographic Variables Affect the Perception of English in German Advertising
University of Würzburg  (Neuphilologisches Institut – Anglistik und Amerikanistik)
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Anglicisms, Advertising Language, Marketing, Linguistics, Sociolinguistics, Advertising
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Henry Quevedo (Author), 2018, An Analysis of How Socio-demographic Variables Affect the Perception of English in German Advertising, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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