The importance and influence of anglicisms in german language and audio-visual advertising

Term Paper (Advanced seminar), 2002

24 Pages, Grade: 1,3


Table of contents

1 Introduction

2 The term “Anglicisms”

3 Language of Advertising

4 Reasons for Anglicisms in German Advertisement

5 Analysis of Spots

6 Analysis of the questionnaire

7 Conclusion

8 Bibliography

9 Appendix
9.1 Questionnaire „Anglizismen in der dt. Sprache“
9.2 Summary of questionnaire (in per cent)
9.3 List of TV-advertising spots

1 Introduction

Ich habe vielleicht etwas Weltverbesserndes. Mein Leben ist eine giving-story. Ich habe verstanden, dass man contemporary sein muß, das future-Denken haben muß. Meine Idee war, die hand-tailored-Geschichte mit neuen Technologien zu verbinden. Und für den Erfolg war mein coordinated concept entscheidend, die Idee, dass man viele Teile einer collection miteinander combinen kann. Aber die audience hat das alles von Anfang an auch supported. Der problembewußte Mensch von heute kann diese Sachen, diese refined Qualitäten mit spirit eben auch appreciaten.[...][1]

This quote of Jil Sander might be a very exaggerated example for Anglicisms in the German language, or for “Germarican” as Hermann Fink describes this mixture of English and German. Still, it gives a good introduction for my research topic to show that the English language has a high influence on today’s German, and that the image of America/England is of great importance in German advertisement.

Language is not stable, it is a communication system used by human beings. As people and the environment they live in change and develop, it is natural for language to change and to get influenced, as well. The amount of English words in the German language increased highly since 1945 and especially since advertising plays an important role in our society. After the second World War the connection between Germany and the Western world got stronger and more intensive than it had been before. Especially the areas media, literature, music and theatre, but also politics, sports and economy have very high influences on the growing use of English words in German language.

The German Academy of Language in Berlin says that no more than five per cent lexical amount of anglicisms are existing in the German language. That, indeed, is not much, but this does not propose anything about how often these words are used in the every-day language.[2] There are no concrete guidelines or laws about the usage of Anglicisms, and advertising agencies tend to plead that they only orientate on those English words which are already used by Germans. This has to be doubted thinking that the words mail express logistics finance, Stimulating Facial Freshener, or Concentrated Line Smoother are not always understood directly nor by many Germans.[3] But the understanding of Anglicisms will not be the subject of this paper.

In my research paper I want to point out which influence the English language has on the language of advertising and how anglicisms are seen in our society. I will refer to the audio-visual media (TV-advertisement) and will try to conclude about importance and influence of Anglicisms in general. In this paper the term Anglicism stands for English and American borrowings, as well.

To supply evidence for my thesis I will give and analyse a few examles of advertising spots from the German channel ARD, and I also will present my results of a questionnaire about “Anglicisms in the German language” which was filled in by 60 Germans. At the beginning I want to go into the terms “anglicism”, “language of advertising” and I will point out the most important reasons for the usage of Anglicisms, to give the reader a clear view in which way these terms have to be looked at and dealt with in this paper.

2 The term “Anglicisms”

Anglicisms are English words or expressions which are used or borrowed into a non-English language. They can occur on all linguistic levels- phonetic, morphologic, semantic, syntactic or stylistic ones. The most important kinds of anglicisms are the zero-substitutions, i.e. the whole English word is transferred without changing its phonetical or orthographical features (e.g. show); partial-substitution, i.e. a mixture of lexemes out of two languages (e.g. Bühnenshow); “Denglish”, i.e. a German-English mixture of sentences, phrases or expressions (e.g. er wird gefeuert) and pseudo-Anglicisms, i.e. terms which do not exist in English or which have a different meaning (e.g. “Handy”, the German word for mobile phone).[4] The distinction between British and American words is more correct, but not the aim of this paper and would go beyond the scope of it. I will talk of anglicisms for all words of English origin.

The first English borrowings are recorded very early, at the beginning of the 13th century. At this time many lexems came from the areas of sea merchandise, politics, later in the 18th century also from literature, social life, culture etc.. These “old” anglicisms are more or less common for most people and looked at as “normal” words for the Germans. The fact is, that in the last years since 1945 more English words got entry into the German language than ever.[5] Especially, these “new” anglicisms which come from the political, economical, technical and cultural contact between Germany and England/USA are of great importance for this paper, as they are still seen as “foreign words” for most Germans, they suggest a new life-style and therefore are of high use in the language of advertising to influence the German customer and purchaser.

3 Language of Advertising

Die Werbesprache ist eine Sondersprache gegenüber der Alltagssprache. Sie nutzt das, was in der Alltagssprache da ist, in einer anderen Frequenz. Sie greift sich bestimmte Aspekte heraus, isoliert sie, wiederholt sie und vermittelt dadurch den werbespe­zifischen Eindruck des Künstlichen, des Inszenierten. Die Sprache der Werbung besitzt jenseits der Inszenierung, die allein dem Verkauf dient, keine Sprechwirklichkeit[6]

This quote made by Dr. Nina Janich, a linguist at the university of Regensburg, gives a complex definition of the language of advertisment. It shows that advertising is somehow a “secret seducer”[7] and the use of English language in advertising makes it smooth and an eye-catcher. The language of advertising is something artificial, but still, reversely this artificial use of language also can become an idiom of reality in our every-day language. The best example for this is the more frequent use of anglicisms in advertising and with this also the higher amount of English words in the German every-day language. It is proved that most of the “new” anglicisms get entry into the German language through media, as media deals with all topics of life.[8] That means that the artificial language of advertising can influence and change our own language easily.

One could say that the most important part in an advertisment is the slogan. It has a basic meaning, it should draw attention through its originality and give recognition through its numerous repetition. How often do those artificial phrases or sentences stick in our mind and influence our use of language. For the power of slogans most striking (and also amusing) is one example written down by Wolfgang Hars in his book “Lexikon der Werbesprüche” when Bill Clinton on his visit in Berlin spoke the sentence “Nichts ist unmöglich!” and the crowd replied to him “Tooyooota”![9] What else do we need to tell that the language of advertising tells a lot about psychological, sociological and economical matters in our society.

The language of advertisment also gives pseudo-anglicisms entry into the German language, as it is the fundament for new word creations, such as dressman or Twen, made by advertising agencies. With sentences like “Jockey-Feeling ist das Plus an Lebensfreude – das imponierende Gefühl überlegener Sicherheit – bewirkt durch straffen Sitz und echten “masculine comfort”.”[10] one gets the impression that the Germans are bilingual with a pseudo-English as secret language. Especially in job vacancies, in ads of flight companies, engineering, cosmetics, toys or cigarettes the amount of English words is very high.[11] One of the reasons for this might be the more exclusive internationality, or is German only too stiff and un-fashionable to be up-to-date with the new way of life?


[1] Der Spiegel 14/1996; Jil Sander in: Fink, Herrmann 1997: Von Kuh-Look bis Fit for Fun: Anglizismen in der heutigen Allgemein- und Werbesprache, p. 54

[2] Cf.

[3] Cf. Steinbach, Horst Ralf 1984: Englisches im deutschen Werbefernsehen, p.86

[4] Cf. Fink, Herrmann 1997: Von Kuh-Look bis Fit for Fun: Anglizismen in der heutigen deutschen Allgemein- und Werbesprache, p.62ff

[5] Cf. Carstensen, Broder 1965: Englische Einflüsse auf die deutsche Sprache nach 1945, p. 29ff.


[7] Carstensen, Broder 1965: Englische Einflüsse auf die deutsche Sprache nach 1945, p.20

[8] Cf. ibid

[9] Cf.

[10] Carstensen, Broder 1965: Englische Einflüsse auf die deutsche Sprache nach 1945, p.26

[11] Cf. ibid

Excerpt out of 24 pages


The importance and influence of anglicisms in german language and audio-visual advertising
Technical University of Braunschweig  (Englisches Seminar)
Language in Advertisment
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ISBN (eBook)
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Language, Advertisment
Quote paper
Magistra Artium Claudia Stehr (Author), 2002, The importance and influence of anglicisms in german language and audio-visual advertising, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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