Anglicisms and their Usage in the German Newspaper Die Zeit

Bachelor Thesis, 2020

42 Pages, Grade: 1,0




2.1. Definition
2.2. Different Forms
2.2.1. Direct loan influences
2.2.2. Indirect loan influences
2.2.3. Pseudo Anglicism
2.2.4. Hybrid Anglicism
2.3. Transmission Processes and Parameters of Transmission
2.4. Grammar of Anglicisms
2.4.1. Orthography
2.4.2. Morphology
2.5. Types of Integration
2.6. Lexical Productivity

3.1. Diachronic perspective
3.2. Motives
3.3. Impact on the German language
3.4. Critique of language

4.1. Research Aim
4.2. The corpus
4.3. Research Method

5.1. Quantitative Analysis
5.1.1. Percentage of Anglicisms per Section
5.1.2. Type-token ratio per section
5.2. Qualitative Analysis
5.2.1. According to word class
5.2.2. Hybrid Anglicism
5.2.3. Lexical Productivity







1. Introduction

Since Second World War, the use of anglicisms in the German language has drastically increased, and thus, English words are borrowed more frequently. Nowadays, in the year 2020, one can confidently argue that nearly every German native speaker uses anglicisms in their everyday life. Especially teenagers, who are constantly exposed to social media, are prone to use English words more frequently. In order to analyse the frequency of anglicism usage in the German language, this paper analyses articles from the German newspaper Die Zeit. Media and the press, for instance, mimic the use and competence of English words in the German language among German native speakers. Therefore, analysing newspaper articles is an efficient and effective way to demonstrate the spread of anglicisms.

At the beginning of this thesis there is a general explanation of anglicisms. This not only includes a definition but also further information on the different forms of anglicisms, such as direct or indirect loan influences as well as hybrid anglicisms. Moreover, it illustrates the transmission processes with its parameters and the grammar of anglicism within the German language system. Consequently, this lexical productivity is summarized, and the types of integration of anglicisms into the German lexicon are further evaluated.

This is then followed by a chapter that highlights diachronic aspects of integrating English borrowings into the German language and the motives of using these. Subsequently, it provides information on the impact it has on German and the reasons why some German linguists believe their language to be endangered.

The analysis in this paper encompasses a broad sample of 60 articles in total from six different news categories (society, culture, sports, economy, politics and science) that were published between October 2019 and February 2020 on the online platform of the German newspaper Die Zeit. These articles were carefully perused and analysed according to the number of anglicisms. These were not only analysed according to the quantity but also the quality. Thus, the percentages of anglicisms per section were calculated, as well as the type-token ratio. The focus of the qualitative analysis is on the different word classes and on hybrid forms.

Last but not least, all the results are discussed and subsequently compared to previous studies carried out by Onysko (2007) and De Ridder (2013). Moreover, there is a short possible future outlook on how the borrowing of English will develop in the next years

2. What is an Anglicism

2.1. Definition

A general definition of the term ‘anglicism’ can be rather challenging as the concept is extremely complex. However, it is widely known that language contact is the main cause of anglicisms. Thus, one language, in this case English, linguistically influences another language, called the receptor language (RL). While some of these language contacts date back decades, their outcomes are still very evident. Further language contact is enhanced due to media, television and the Internet.

There are various definitions of anglicism by dictionaries, such as the Oxford Dictionary, but also by well-known linguists. All of these differ slightly from one another, and while some are stated rather generally, others are more specific.

According to Plümer (2000: 17), the term anglicism is generally a hypernym for words that trace back to British English influence as well as words that originate in American English. A distinction between British and American English seems impossible, as they are also known to constantly influence each other, and thus, linguists do not usually differentiate between different forms of English when talking about their influence and impact on any non-English language (Plümer 2000: 17-18).

Carstensen cites Zindler as follows:

“Ein Anglizismus ist ein Wort aus dem britischen oder amerikanischen Englisch im Deutschen oder eine nicht übliche Wortkomposition, jede Art der Veränderung einer deutschen Wortbedeutung oder Wortverwendung (Lehnbedeutung, Lehnübersetzung, Lehnübertragung, Lehnschöpfung, Frequenzsteigerung, Wiederbelebung) nach britischem oder amerikanischem Vorbild” (1965: 30)

Horst Zindler is known to be one of the first linguists to actually cover the topic of anglicisms and their impact on the German language in terms of the German press/media, and his definition of anglicisms is often cited. In this definition, Zindler explains anglicisms as any word or composition of words that originate in British or American English, as well as changes in the meaning of words due to British or American influence. These, for instance, include loan meanings, loan translations, loan creation and loan rendition. However, Carstensen (1965: 30) further emphasises that it is also vital to focus on syntax and phonology in defining anglicisms. (Carstensen 1965: 30)

Eisenberg (2013: 70-72) provides a more general definition of the term ‘anglicism’ and explains it as anything that originated in the English language. Therefore, Onysko (2007: 89) asserts that the term anglicism is an umbrella term, which includes any word, phrase or phonological and morphological feature that traces back to the English language. Moreover, he points out that further distinctions can be made, and include direct and indirect loan influences that will be explained further in the next chapter.

2.2. Different Forms

Werner Betz and Einar Haugen are two noteworthy linguists when it comes to classifying loan influences (Carstensen 1965: 31). However, this paper will only focus on Betz’s classification for a better understanding. Thus, the terms that are used in this chapter are coined by Betz and will be explained further in the subchapters. The following picture provides a general overview of loan influences as described by Werner Betz:

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Image 1 (Onysko 2007: 13)

As it is evident on the picture, Betz differentiates between direct and indirect loan influences. Thus, he separates loanwords and loan coinage. While loanwords are usually integrated on any linguistic level, loan coinage is concerned with “indirect lexical influence of the source language (SL) on the receptor language (RL)” (Onysko 2007: 14).

Many other linguists have tried to improve Betz’s terminology, yet no one has been able to develop any other classification as clear and useful as his. Still, it may sometimes be more effective to not only rely on Betz’s terminology but also on the different processes of language contact and transmission in order to classify anglicisms. (Carstensen 1993:53)

2.2.1. Direct loan influences

Direct loan influences are loan words or borrowings that include both foreign words and loan words that are assimilated into the receptor language. These words are linguistically integrated into the grammatical norms of the receiving language in terms of morphology, phonology and syntax. However, there are different levels of assimilation and integration to the RL. This means that there is not one specific norm that loanwords must follow to be qualified as such.

Although most anglicisms look foreign even if they adapt morphological features, it is vital to mention that they are still words of the German language and must be treated accordingly. This is due to all the linguistic features that they now share with the German language and in turn differ from the source language, in this case, English. (Eisenberg 2013: 71)

“Gängige und im Deutschen etablierte Anglizismen (z.B. Start, Interview) sind bereits im deutschen Lexikon enthalten und werden deshalb nicht als englische Einheit/Anglizismen erkannt. In der manuellen Analyse werden diese aus etymologischen und wortformbedingten Gründen als Anglizismen klassifiziert” (Eisenberg 2013: 74).

As Eisenberg states in the above citation, while many anglicisms are actually already classified as German words due to their frequent usage and their linguistic features that are evidently German, they will still be treated as loanwords or anglicisms in this paper due to etymological and morphological reasons. As Carstensen (1965: 90) argues, these are in fact the type of anglicism that are most frequently used by German speakers.

“Am häufigsten kommt heute die Übernahme eines Wortes in unveränderter Form und Bedeutung vor. Zu diesen Übernahmen gehören einfache Wörter, Komposita sowie zwei- und mehrgliedrige Wendungen. Die Untersuchung (…) ergab Übereinstimmung mit Zindlers Ergebnissen: „Im heutigen Deutsch ist die Tendenz zur unübersetzten und nicht angeglichenen Wortübernahme groß“ (Carstensen 1965: 90).

According to Carstensen, Zindler already stated that there is a tendency of borrowing words without translations or adaptations to the RL language system. The majority of anglicisms, such as words, compounds and phrasal anglicisms are borrowed with their original form. Only a few changes are made in order to fit them into the RL. (Carstensen 1965: 90)

2.2.2. Indirect loan influences

Indirect loan influences are also known under the generic term of ‘loan coinages’, which can be further differentiated into loan formations and loan meaning. Loan formation is a hypernym, which includes loan translation, loan rendition and loan creations. Loan formations are characterized by a lack of word formal transfer and is therefore seen as a separate process from lexical borrowing (Onysko 2007: 30). This group of loan influences is, however, more controversial, as in some cases it can only be speculated, and it is hard to prove indirect loan influences of certain words. (Onysko 2007:13-14)

Loan meaning, also called semantic loan, implies that only the meaning of the word (the semanteme) is transferred into the RL and not its form. Carstensen states that the meaning of an English word is transmitted to an already existing German word (1993:56). Yet, according to Onysko (2007: 15), it is not possible to borrow meaning without form. Saussure’s arbitrariness of signifier and signified suggests that different signs in diverse languages represent either the same or at least a similar meaning. This makes the matter more complicated, as not every word is a loan meaning of the same word in a different language. Cultural aspects need to be taken into consideration. However, even with that, it seems to be impossible to support this claim and notion of loan meaning. There are only very few examples of loan meanings. One example by Werner Betz is the word heiliger Geist, which he defines as a loan meaning from the word spiritus sanctus as it would probably not have developed on its own. Another example would be the semantic extension of the German verb realisieren (now also meaning ‘to become aware of’ besides ‘to bring about’) due to the influence of the English verb ‘to realise’. (Onysko 2007: 15-19)

Loan translations are direct or element-by-element translations of foreign words. Examples show that it may cause problems to blend lexical transfer and this concept of translation. Thus, while the German word Gipfelkonferenz from the English word ‘summit conference’ (Onysko 2007:14) is an exact translation, there are also loan translations such as Wolkenkratzer from ‘skyscraper’, for which the German translation only partly conforms to the original English word. This is due to the fact that the different subcategories of loan formation may overlap, which means that loan rendition and loan creations are actually variants of loan translation. The most important reason for this is the linguistic patterns that may be language-inherent of the RL. Examples show that “meaning is reconstructed by language-inherent elements of the target language, which results in the creation of a new integral unit of meaning and form in the target language” (Onysko 2007: 27). Words with an unusual type of word formations that is untypical for the language are usually a product of loan translations. (Onysko 2007:22-27)

Defining loan rendition rather loosely, it is a partially translated loan. Thus, again, it relates to loan translations, but it is only a vague copy of the original word from the SL. Onysko (2007: 29) states that a “foreign model leads to the creation of a language-inherent term that is a free or partial reconstruction of the model”. Examples of language rendition include Luftkissenboot for ‘hovercraft’ or Musikkiste for ‘jukebox’. While they lack word formal transfer, there is a conceptual transmission, which provokes a language-inherent creation in the receptor language. (Onysko 2007:29-30)

Like loan rendition, loan creation is another example of conceptual transmission and thus, does not rely on borrowing. In this case, new words are created based on or triggered by words from the SL. While they are created to reflect the original words, there are no word formal relations at all. Carstensen cites Haugen by calling it a “completely native kind of creation” (1993:57). An instance for this type of loan formation is the German word Nietenhose for the English word ‘jeans’. (Onysko 2007:30)

There are several linguists who do not consider indirect loan influences as anglicism as it is unsure whether the words are actually of English descent. It is extremely challenging to prove whether the words first appeared in German or English, especially as these two languages are both Germanic languages and share similar structures on different linguistic levels. This essentially means that for the majority of the instances, there is no evidence of the direction of the language influence. Due to the fact that these are also not necessarily evident loans and thus, do not appear like foreign words. According to Muhr (2002: 34), Carstensen does not consider them as anglicisms. As a result, in the analysis of this paper, indirect loan influences are not taken into consideration and therefore, are not analysed as such. (Onysko 21-26)

2.2.3. Pseudo Anglicism

Generally speaking, pseudo anglicisms are words in the receptor language that make use of lexical elements found in the source language in order to create neologisms that do not occur in the source language. In German that would be neologisms that are made of English language material. Thus, these words look English but actually differ from English words formally or semantically. Onysko describes three different types of pseudo anglicisms. First, he mentions lexical pseudo loans, which do not derive from any English model, such as Dressman for ‘male model’ or the word Handy for ‘cell phone’. Secondly, there may be morphological changes, which are for instance abbreviation of borrowings, such as the word Pulli for ‘pullover’. And lastly, there are so-called semantic pseudo loans, for which the loan words take on new meanings in the RL, for instance City which means ‘downtown’ in German, as well as Slip meaning a type of underwear. Pseudo anglicisms are language-inherent but also based on English lexical material. These words are not borrowings as they have their origin in the RL; yet, the occurrence of pseudo anglicisms indicates a broad knowledge of English. After all, they are still marked as English signs due to their use of English language material that seems foreign in the German language. (Onysko 2007: 52-55)

2.2.4. Hybrid Anglicism

Like pseudo anglicisms, hybrid anglicisms demonstrate that there is, in fact, lexical productivity, which in turn shows general acceptance of these words in the RL society. As the term ‘hybrid’ already suggests, these types of anglicism are a combination of borrowings from English with German elements, such as Wunderkids for ‘miracle kids’. These combinations do not result from direct lexical transfer, but they are lexical creations based on partial translation. While inflections may also mix English and German morphemes, hybrid anglicisms relate to derivational processes. These include “affixation of borrowed bases and the formation of compounds of native and borrowed morphemes” (Onysko 2007: 55). Hybrids occur in all word classes, but compound nouns make up the majority of hybrid anglicisms. (Onysko 2007:55-59)

Carstensen (1993: 67) categorises them in different types of hybrids according to their compounds. One type would be partial loan translations. These anglicisms are a compound construction with a native and a borrowed morpheme, yet they are fully based on an English word. An example for partial replacements is the word Krisenmanagement from the English ‘crisis management’. If the compounds lack an English model, such as Gelegenheitsjob (‘occasional job’), they result from conceptual motivation in the RL (Onysko 2007: 57). In order to define the type of hybrid anglicism, it is essential to focus on etymology. However, this can be problematic as it is sometimes unclear. (Carstensen 1993: 67).

2.3. Transmission Processes and Parameters of Transmission

There are a few different types of transmission processes and certain parameters that influence those processes. Consequently, anglicisms are used productively in the language system of the RL. The main types of transmission include borrowing, conceptual transmission, interference and codeswitching. These processes are influenced by stability, language competence, lexical productivity and the identification of the SL influence. (Onysko 2007: 79-82)

While borrowing is mainly viewed as a lexical issue since borrowed terms are integrated into the language system and are thus lexically productive, conceptual transmission means the reproduction of meaning of words from the SL without its original form. Conceptual transmission includes loan translations, loan renditions and loan creations. However, etymological information is generally needed in order to prove this transmission process. Due to interference of languages in contact, semantic changes can occur from correlations in the SL. This means that certain words that already existed in the RL gain a new meaning due to language contact. (Onysko 2007: 79-80)

In terms of parameters that influence transmission, the parameter of stability relies on the natural hierarchy of borrowability Hence, content items are more likely to be borrowed. Moreover, it is more common to borrow words that are lexically and structurally similar to the RL. Furthermore, language competence in both the SL and the RL impacts the occurrence of codeswitching and interference, as well as lexical borrowing and conceptual transmission, since these demand bilingualisms. Another parameter in transmission processes is the identification of SL influence, which may be dependent on the speaker’s knowledge of the SL, yet information about the origin of a words is often limited. Last but not least, another vital parameter is the lexical productivity of the borrowed units, which will be discussed in chapter 2.6. (Onysko 2007:80-82)

Transmission in language contact is highly influenced by the notion of dominance of either the RL or the SL, which is dependent on immediate speaker contact. RL agentivity (dominance) results in high stability of the RL and resists structural transfer. Consequently, words are borrowed or conceptually transmitted without their original forms (Onysko 2007: 44). On the other hand, with SL dominance structural patterns are imposed in the RL and it can result in codeswitching and interference. (Onysko 2007: 83-84)

There are several factors that can both positively and negatively affect the borrowing of words. Similarity in language, lexically or structurally, but also certain morphological and social factors make borrowing easier. If a certain language, and thus, speaking this language is considered as more prestigious and associated with a higher status, words are more likely borrowed from that language. On the other hand, borrowings are negatively influenced by phonetic and graphemic influences. Different phonetic systems result in the incorrect pronunciation of the borrowed units in the RL. Moreover, some anglicisms are written differently as they are pronounced, which again may be a problem for speakers of the RL. (Kupper 2007: 28-29)

2.4. Grammar of Anglicisms

Grammar obviously entails many different branches, but as this paper is focusing on a written corpus, this chapter will solely include an overview of grammatical aspects such as orthography and morphology of anglicisms. English borrowings are assimilated to the grammatical system of the German language on different levels which will be explained further in the following subchapters.

2.4.1. Orthography

While a new anglicism will not be adapted to the German grammar immediately, as soon as it becomes part of the German lexis, most of the words follow its general grammatical rules. Still, the majority of loan words keep their original spelling. However, some words undergo certain degrees of assimilation to the German spelling by changing certain letters in order to germanise the words. Other words are a mixture of the English and German spelling. Furthermore, it can be generally stated that nominal anglicisms will be capitalised as soon as they develop a fixed position in the German language (Carstensen 1965:34). (Kovács 2008: 83)

As already mentioned, some anglicisms change certain letters to adapt to the German spelling system. However, it is not a general rule to change said letters, as in some areas the English spelling is more relevant due to the aspect of internationality, such as in advertisements and the media. In some words, the letter ‘c’ changes into the letter ‘k’, such as Klub, Kolumnist and Handikap. However, words such as cosmetic and automatic keep the English spelling. Moreover, the letter ‘c’ may also change into the letter ‘z’, for instance Zertifikat for ‘certificate’ and Zigarette for ‘cigarette’. Several English words that are originally written with ‘sh’ change into ‘sch’, such as Schock; however, that does not apply to all of them, which is perfectly demonstrated with the words shoppen or Show. Last but not least, consonants in verbs are often doubled when integrated, for example babysitten, jobben and stoppen (Kovács 2008: 84; Carstensen 1965: 34-35)

While in all the cases mentioned before the anglicisms are integrated and thus, influenced by the German language system, there is one grammatical English feature that evidently influences the host language: the apostrophe that comes with the genitive case. More and more often the apostrophe is integrated into the German language in order to signal the genitive case. The apostrophe and the following letter ‘s’ are nothing new in German (i.e. ‘ Was gibt’s ?’ ) which further encourages its use. Especially with names and in advertisement it is very common to show the genitive using an apostrophe. (Carstensen 1965: 36)

2.4.2. Morphology

In terms of morphology, especially nominal anglicisms follow a few important grammatical rules when assimilating to the German language. These include the issue of gender assignment as well as inflection, such as the plural and genitive case inflections. However, anglicisms also contribute to German morphological processes in terms of compounds and affixes that derive from the English language.

Nominal anglicisms and their German assimilation to gender and case endings are very complex and complicated matters. While there seem to be some grammatical rules, these are not applicable to every anglicism. Grammatical gender (male, feminine, neuter) is not a structural language feature in the English language as they do not have different determiners. In order to be morphologically integrated into German, the words need to be assigned to one gender. According to Onysko (2007: 152), there are no rules for determining the gender of nouns; however, there are some guidelines that help deciding the gender. For example, if there is a biological gender of the noun, it automatically decides the gender of the German determiner (e.g. die Queen, der Gentleman). Moreover, lexical, semantical and suffix analogy may play a significant role in gender assignment. In terms of lexical analogy, the nominal anglicism adapts the gender of the translational equivalent German term (e.g. das Business as das Gesch äft; der Essay as der Aufsatz). Semantic analogy implies that certain semantic fields are related to one specific gender. Additionally, suffix analogy points out that the suffix of the nouns shows gender preferences. This means that assigning gender to anglicisms indicates an interaction of morphology and semantics. (Onysko 2007:151-152)

Plural inflection of anglicisms partially overlaps with both English and German plural morphs. In the German language, there are 4 main plural morphs which are -s, -n, -e and -r. The morph -s is considered the regular plural morph, and in fact, it applies to 60% of anglicisms in German. These include words such as onomatopoeic words, acronyms, unassimilated borrowings, names and eponyms (Onysko 2007: 181). Zero marking of plural in German accounts for 34% of anglicisms. The rest are either -e plural forms or make use of the -(e)n suffixation (e.g. Farmen, Interviewten, Lobbyisten). Plural case inflection of nominal anglicisms is “influenced by counterpoles of lexical borrowing and inherent rule application” (Onysko 2007: 187). (Onysko 2007: 180-183)

Genitive case inflection in German is also usually done with the -s suffix. However, one third of anglicisms resist regular case inflections. This is due to the determiner that already contains genitive markings and results in zero marking of the nouns. Moreover, “a variety of anglicisms show free variation between regular genitive inflection and zero marking” (Onysko 2007: 189). These include for instance, des Crash or des Crashs, and des Laptop or des Laptops. Thus, as with many other morphological patterns and rules, it can also depend on the noun itself and its usage and productivity. (Onysko 2007:188-189)

Verbal, adjectival and adverbial anglicisms also mainly assimilate and hence, follow German rules. Verbal anglicisms are treated as weak verbs and suffixes according to the tense and person are added to the original English word stem. Thus, there is a high degree of morphological convergence (Onysko 2007: 233). Examples of assimilated verbal anglicisms are the following inflected words: boomte, trainierten, downloaden and mailt.

The fact that several anglicisms are used as morphemes in order to create hybrid forms or affixes that derive from the English language perfectly depicts their lexical productivity. Hybrids do not only make use of nouns but also verbal, adjectival or adverbial anglicisms. According to Carstensen (1965: 39), the anglicisms that are used the most for creating hybrid words include party, publicity, story and team. (Carstensen 1965: 39-45)

2.5. Types of Integration

Over time, loan words undergo a process of integration in order to be adapted to the structure of the RL lexicon and to fit into its language system. This integration consists of various different types and levels. De Ridder (2013: 17) mentions four different stages of integration that ultimately lead to complete integration in terms of spelling, sound and inflection. First, the borrowed term is only considered a foreign word in the RL. But as soon as this word is used more frequently by speakers of the RL it is considered a loanword. Now it may adapt to the RL language system according to its pronunciation, spelling and word formation patterns, this means, the more frequently a loan word is used, the more it adapts to the RL grammar and, in the end, may be regarded as a native word. (De Ridder 2013: 17)

De Ridder (2013:18) also mentions another integration process used by Breiter. As in the previous one, there are four different levels of integration, namely phonological and graphic integration, grammatical integration, derivational integration and semantic integration. First, loan words are integrated according to their spelling and pronunciation, followed by grammatical integration such as gender assignment. Derivational integration is concerned with inflection and conjugation of the borrowed words according to the RL language system. Lastly, loan words are semantically integrated by either extending or reducing their lexical meaning. (De Ridder 2013:18)

Moreover, codeswitching or -mixing is another type of integration which at the same time demonstrates its lexical productivity. Single word, multi-word or intersentential codeswitching are considered as “English syntactic units, which are embedded in German matrix clauses as codeswitching and phrasal Anglicism”, according to Onysko (2007: 150). Codeswitching relies on bilingual or multilingual language competence of the speaker.

2.6. Lexical Productivity

Lexical productivity of borrowed units means the productive usage of anglicisms and is known to be a common consequence of borrowing processes. According to Onysko (2007: 82), “[t]he structural elements need to become independent of their lexical environment in order to augment the structure of the RL and occur in combination with native bases”. As already briefly mentioned in chapter 2.5., lexical productivity of anglicisms in German is demonstrated by nominal, verbal, adjectival and adverbial anglicisms, and other types of word formation of any word class in German. Nominal anglicisms include hybrid forms, dervational processes as well as phrasal compounds and pseudo anglicisms, whereas verbal anglicisms rely on inflection and derivation, such as prefixes. (Onysko 2007:192)

The frequent use of anglicisms in German indicates that English language elements are in fact vital in terms of lexical innovation in the German language. Hence, these words are integrated following the word formational rules of the host language and are useful regarding lexical creation. The evident lexical productivity proves their general acceptance in the host language. (Onysko 2007: 58-59)

3. Anglicism in German

Linguists’ attitude towards anglicisms in German is very unclear, as there is no right answer whether or not the increasing use of anglicism threatens its existence or leads to severe adulterations. English terms entering the German language cannot be stopped due to immense language contact via mass media and globalisation (Nikitina 2015: 117). Moreover, the English-speaking United States of America is currently in the leading position of global politics, economy, science and entertainment. Yet, there are still cases of anglicisms that are definitely not necessary, but only used in order to seem modern, open-minded and international. Nowadays, according to Gerwens (2017: 27), the number of anglicisms in the German language range from 8% to 17%. (Onysko 2007: 4, 61)

3.1. Diachronic perspective

In general, it is very difficult to document the first appearances of any anglicism in German, as there is a so-called reception lag, which comprises the time span from the creation until actually appearing as borrowings. Moreover, there is a lack of reference sources. (Onysko 2007: 61-69)

Plümer (2000: 29) differentiates between three major periods of borrowing from the English language into German. Firstly, she talks about the period until the first World War with only minor impact. This was followed by the period between the First and Second World War, in which the US became the leading role in international economic and political matters. Lastly, the years after 1945, in which language contact was immense due to American and British occupying forces. (Plümer 2000: 29)

To be a bit more precise, the history of borrowing between English and German starts as early as the Middle Ages with only a few anglicisms that were mostly related to religion or Christianity. Starting in the 17 century, increased borrowings can be noticed each century. While political terms appeared first, philosophical terms and terms from trade and commerce followed quickly. By the Industrial Revolution in the 19 century, England was a major influence on the German lexicon, also in regard to fashion and sports. In all these periods, British English was the main source of influence. (Kovács 2008: 77)

After World War II and the increasing significance of the US, American English also started to enter the German language. However, it is rather difficult to distinguish between these two. As already mentioned before, American and British occupying forces led to language contact and an influx of English borrowings after 1945. More recently, globalization, americanisation, mass media, the press and especially the internet has led to daily language contact between many languages of the world, including, of course, English and German. (Kovács 2008: 77)

Nowadays, English is one of the languages of international communication and is taught at schools all over the world. The internet and especially social media make use of the English language in day-to-day international communication between people from all ages around the world. Being confronted with the English language on a daily basis may also be the reason for the increased use of anglicisms in the 21 century.

3.2. Motives

Motives of using anglicisms may be individual and complex. The reason why German-speaking people make use of English words in their everyday conversations may vary. Some of the major reasons for borrowing are summarised in this subchapter.

First of all, a vital influence that cannot be stated enough is the intense language contact of German and English. People in German-speaking countries are constantly confronted with the English language due to the press or the internet, especially social media platforms. Thus, picking up ‘cool’ English phrases and words and implementing these into their vocabulary happens naturally to most German speakers. Thus, language contact is one of the major factors of the increased use of anglicisms in German.

Another reason for the adaption of English words into the German lexicon is its practical necessity. Several English words do not have a suitable equivalent in German, thus, it is easier to borrow the term, instead of creating a new one. For several critics of anglicism, this is the most acceptable motive of borrowing. Onysko (2011: 1551) differentiates between necessary loans and luxury loans. According to him, necessary loans are accepted, as soon as there does not exist any semantic equivalent in the RL and thus, they are not interchangeable (Onysko 2011: 1552). These may also include words that can potentially be described in the RL, but only in a more detailed and complicated way, thus using the anglicism is more appropriate and efficient (these words include, for instance ‘bypass’, ‘live’ or ‘interview’) (Stark 2013: 49).

As a result of the intense language contact, people regard English as something they aspire to adopt. For many people the English language and its use is connoted with higher social status and prestige. This means that people that use anglicisms regularly seem to be from a higher class. Moreover, most of the anglicisms that are used in German are relatively short and thus easy to remember and take over. English, as the language of international communication, is viewed as more modern and open-minded. All of these aspects play an important role regarding the motives of anglicisms in German. (Stark 2013: 52-53)

Czech-Rogoyska (2018:14) summarises all of these aspects and further argues that the reasons for German speakers integrate English vocabulary into their lexicon is of semantic, stylistic, euphemistic, emotive, social and succinct nature. However, first and foremost, the English language spreads a sense of high prestige. To elaborate a little bit on these adjectives, anglicisms are used for new inventions or phenomena, to avoid repeating the same native words or simply to eschew taboo words. Moreover, anglicisms are highly positively connoted and impact a certain sense of group identity, while at the same time being easy and short to use. (Czech Rogoyska 2018: 14)

3.3. Impact on the German language

While the use of anglicisms may impact the German lexicon greatly, it does not have a vast influence on its grammar. As already mentioned, there is immense language contact, but the English influence is mostly mediated as there is little immediate speaker contact (Onysko 2007: 44). Thus, despite some changes and adaptations to the German lexicon, the grammatical system is untouched and under no threat (Kovács 2008: 88). Anglicisms in German can be found in nearly any area of lexicon, such as economy, technology, sports, politics, music, tourism, science, fashion and culture. According to Czech-Rogoyska (2018:12), a study showed that there is also an abundance of anglicisms in advertising and sports.


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Anglicisms and their Usage in the German Newspaper Die Zeit
University of Innsbruck
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Anglicisms, Anglizismen, Anglizismus, Amerikanismen, lehnworte
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Madeleine Sailer (Author), 2020, Anglicisms and their Usage in the German Newspaper Die Zeit, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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