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Linguistic Influence
H Gottlieb, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen,
ß 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
No Language Is an Island
All languages borrow lexical and grammatical fea-
tures from each other, and down through the ages,
English has borrowed intensely from a host of other
languages, dead (such as Latin and Greek) or alive
(e.g., Italian, French, and German). French loan-
words now constitute one-third of the lexical inven-
tory of English, a fact that has led to the epithet ‘a
semi-Romance language’ (McArthur, 2002: 135).
Although English today is better known as a lin-
guistic donor than a receiver, English keeps adopting
and adapting foreign words, many of which are later
re-exported to other speech communities. As a case in
point, several exotic late-20th-century food terms,
e.g., taco and tortilla (originally from Spanish) and
sushi (from Japanese) have reached European kitch-
ens and dictionaries after stopovers in America or
Britain. This phenomenon is an obvious parallel to
relay translation – as one finds in, for instance, the
interpreting services of EU bodies – where language
contacts between minor languages are typically
mediated by a more dominant language, most often
English or French.
In the following section, we will look at some of the
mechanics of linguistic influence in general, provid-
ing a backdrop for a more elaborate discussion of
the English influence on other languages, by far the
most conspicuous and wide-ranging type of linguistic
influence found today.
Borrowing from Other Languages:
Blessing or Curse?
One question that immediately springs to mind when
discussing linguistic influence is how such influence
comes about. What does it take to export language
features, or – viewed from the receiving end – why
and how are loans introduced in a language?
In answer to these questions, I will cite two
experts in historical linguistics, Lars-Erik Hedlund
and Birgitta Hene. In their book La˚ nord i svenskan
(Hedlund and Hene, 1992: 70), they establish the
following taxonomy of the raisons d’eˆtre of lexi-
cal innovation through borrowing (all terms are
translated by me), summarized in Table 1.
In contrast to this descriptive and quite complex
model, a prescriptive, somewhat simplistic view dis-
tinguishes between loans that are needed and loans
that are superfluous. As concluded in a pioneering
Danish work on Anglicisms (Sørensen, 1973: 131):
Table 1 The reasons behind lexical borrowing
Background Motivation Function
A. Voids in the
1. Name new
2. Generalize/specify Verbalization
3. Express oneself in
neutral terms
4. Express a value
5. Create certain
6. Add humorous effect Entertainment
7. Avoid sounding
8. Obtain a more handy
9. Express personal or
group identity
B. Voids in the
1. Compensate personal
lexical voids
Creating a
2. Compensate
presupposed voids in
the audience
Getting the
C. Foreign-
1. Represent a foreign
culture in translation
All above
196 Linguistic Habitus
As legitimate loans we may accept those words and
phrases which serve a sensible purpose, i.e. those that
primarily fulfil an informative function. As opposed to
this, one should be wary of loans suggested for prestige
purposes. [my translation]
However, even superfluous, prestige-driven loans tend
to carve semantic niches for themselves (Gottlieb,
2004), and, moreover, it is not easy to judge which
motivation(s) may be at play in the borrowing process.
In a recent discussion on German loanwords in
English – high-register items such as Zeitgeist and
Sprachgefu¨ hl – American-based lexicographer A. J.
Meier bridges the need-or-prestige dichotomy with
these words:
The line between need and prestige, however, can be
somewhat obscure, given the tendency for foreign
words to belong to a more ‘‘educated register.’’ Indeed,
I would submit that, by virtue of its foreignness, a word
attains greater saliency and thus, to some extent, is im-
bued with greater expressive power, a power concordant
with both need and prestige. (Meier, 2000: 169)
As any discussion concerning linguistic borrowing is
bound to involve notions of cultural and linguis-
tic power, the debate tends to become emotionally
heated. Internationally, the public debate oscil-
lates between the following statements and claims
(Table 2).
Still, despite the arguments against borrowing –
nowadays typically from English – most speech com-
munities continue doing so with increasing speed;
even in self-protective societies such as Iceland, purist
measures have a limited effect. Foreign words travel
without passports, and as in politics, power is in the
hands of laymen, not experts.
The Semantic Functions of Borrowings
Having gained ground, borrowings fall into the
following semantic categories:
1. Additions. Borrowed expressions refer to newphe-
nomena in the world outside the speech commu-
nities adopting them: inmany Germanic languages,
the Anglicism AIDS (or aids) came with the dis-
ease, so to speak. France managed with a loan
translation of the four lexical elements (Acquired
Immuno-Deficiency Syndrome), thus coming up
with SIDA.
2. Replacements. Anglicisms and other-isms often
pop up in situations where the entities they refer
to already exist in the domestic language: in these
years, Danish sceneskræk (a direct translation of
the English ‘stage fright’) is gaining ground at
the expense of lampefeber (fromGerman Lampen-
fieber). This replacement of a Germanism by an
Anglicism is typical of the recent development in
minor Germanic speech communities; ironically,
in this case the two German components are both
found in English (‘lamp’ þ ‘fever’), whereas the
English-inspired elements scene and skræk were
originally borrowed from French (sce`ne) and Ger-
man (Schreck), respectively.
3. Differentiators. Finally, by wedging themselves
in, some borrowings may contribute to semantic
differentiation: as rollemodel (from English ‘role
model’) is now establishing itself in contemporary
Danish usage, the existing term forbillede (after
German Vorbild), seems to be acquiring a strictly
metaphorical meaning. In other words, part of
the semantic range of forbillede (that referring to
persons) is presently being taken over by rollemo-
del, which can be attested by Danish corpus data.
However, a borrowing of this sort, which in the
beginning covers only a sub-sense of a domestic
word, may one day take over the entire seman-
tic field of that word. In that event, a differentiator
turns into (or turns out to be) a replacement. In
the case of rollemodel in Danish, this is not the
case – yet.
Influence from English
For more than a century, English has been immensely
successful in influencing languages worldwide. Still,
English possesses very few features that fill existing
semantic voids in other languages. Naturally, many
concepts and products were introduced by English-
speaking countries, companies, and individuals. But
the fact that, for instance, many Japanese and Euro-
pean brands and product names are English – even
names for domestic-market goods – shows that, in
certain domains at least, an anglophone ring adds to
the value of things.
The English influence is generated by three
interconnected factors:
Table 2 Standard arguments for and against linguistic
For borrowing Against borrowing
Facilitates learning of donor
Impedes reading of national
Shortens distance between
languages and cultures
Increases distance between
generations and social groups
Provides expressive
Leads to linguistic
Makes translation simpler Kills the fascination with foreign
languages and cultures
Fights chauvinism and
Paves the way for foreign
cultural dominance
Linguistic Influence 197
1. Most opinion leaders worldwide are dependent on
English as a second language, both for personal
communication and for information gathering,
and even children in a number of officially non-
English-speaking countries rely heavily on their
command of English when surfing the Internet,
listening to rap and rock songs, and watching TV
series and films (whether subtitled or not).
2. English is unrivaled as a cover-all language: it is
usually the first language in which new tech-
nology, trends, and lifestyles are presented inter-
nationally, and a language increasingly used
worldwide as a lingua franca, even when no native
speakers of English are present. In virtually every
country on the planet, English is now the first
foreign language taught in school. Within the
last two decades, Russian, French, Spanish, and
German have all lost the status of primary foreign
language outside the nations and regions in which
they are officially spoken.
3. An increasing part of the media input in the mod-
ern world consists of texts translated or in some
other way derived from English sources. In great
parts of the world, most films, TVseries, computer
games and novels are anglophone imports, all
of this having a major impact on the national
languages (Gottlieb, 1999, 2001).
National and regional languages are not just influ-
enced by English, but in academic and business com-
munication, they have de facto lost several domains.
Today, in a number of countries, the credo ‘certain
things are best expressed in English’ not only is heard
among blase´ cosmopolitans, but also is often uttered
by government officials and businessmen, even by
school children.
The Notion of Anglicism: Establishing
a New Paradigm
In the various national debates concerning contempo-
rary English-language influence, emotions often re-
place empirical facts, as ill-defined concepts are used
for polemical effect. Below I will suggest a neutral ter-
minology, including a typology to embrace all types
of linguistic influence, with English as the influen-
tial language, and with Anglicism as a key concept.
However, before defining this term, two related key
concepts will be addressed:
1. English. In today’s language-political discussions,
‘English’ rarely refers to England, not even to
Britain. The central reference here is, not surpris-
ingly, the United States. In most speech commu-
nities, ‘influence from English’ means (linguistic)
influence from the United States, the dominant
anglophone nation. Since the breakthrough of
sound film in Hollywood in the late 1920s, Britain
has played second fiddle in the spread of Anglo-
Saxon values and linguistic features, although in
most European countries most teachers of English
still try to emulate a British, i.e., RP, accent in their
daily work.
2. Loan words. First, thousands of Anglicisms are
not direct loanwords, but belong to one of
the many other categories of Anglicism (see the
typology below). Second – as goes for all borrow-
ings – Anglicisms are not loans to be paid or
handed back to the donor language at a later
stage. Instead, they can be seen as either ‘stolen
goods’ or rather as the fertile offspring of other
speech communities’ planting of English seeds.
The foreign soil is also the reason why, quite
often, when working into English, the best trans-
lation of an Anglicism is not the same expression
in English.
Traditionally, scholars have defined an Anglicism
as ‘‘a word borrowed from the English language
which is adapted with respect to the linguistic system
of the receptor language and integrated into it’’
(Sicherl, 1999: 12). This definition should be praised
for emphasizing that, once borrowed, loans – if they
manage to survive – may remain forever with the
borrowing language and may in that process change
pronunciation, spelling, meaning, etc.
However, two serious objections to this type of
definition can be raised:
1. It is too narrow. It only looks at the most
conspicuous elements of language: the individual
lexical items. Morphological, syntactic, and other
features are ignored.
2. It expresses a naive integrational paradigm, which
is no longer generally valid, that of stable domes-
tic language structures which eventually digest
and integrate all (English) loans. What happens
between English and other languages today
points to a paradigm of systemic influence. In an
increasing number of speech communities, espe-
cially Germanic ones, English linguistic features –
even grammatical ones – are now adopted, rather
than adapted. And even in exotic speech com-
munities under the spell of English, the common
practice of code-shifting overrules potential gaps
in language systems that would prevent direct
transfer of English language features and norms.
What is, then, a reasonable definition of Angli-
cism? In order to cover the entire spectrum of pres-
ent-day influence from English, the notion of
Anglicism should be defined as ‘any individual or
198 Linguistic Influence
systemic language feature adapted or adopted from
English, or inspired or boosted by English models,
used in intralingual communication in a language
other than English.’
Based on this definition, the taxonomy in Tables
4–6 encompasses all linguistic phenomena caused by
English influence. As illustrated in Table 3, the tax-
onomy rests on a two-by-two categorization based on
two distinctive features:
1. The distinction found in the Anglicism definition
above, between, on the one hand, items that are
either adopted (i.e., retained, and thus obviously
of English heritage) or adapted (i.e., camouflaged
or literally translated into the recipient language)
and items that are inspired or numerically boosted
by English language phenomena.
2. The distinction between microlanguage items (in-
cluding morphemes, phonemes, lexemes, phra-
seology, and syntax), and macrolanguage ones
(phenomena foundat clause, sentence, or text level).
The reason why my categorization has yielded a
tripartite taxonomy – and not four main categories –
is the following: I have not included reactive
macrolanguage Anglicisms, a potential category that
is almost impossible to operationalize, as it is hard to
determine whether a given sentence or text (type) is
inspired by English or not.
In Tables 4, 5, and 6, each subcategory is exempli-
fied, and the English trigger behind each example is
given, something that is especially needed when deal-
ing with reactive Anglicisms, which by definition hide
their English ancestry to native speakers and foreign
observers alike.
Some of the terms used in the taxonomy are well
established and universally agreed upon – e.g., seman-
tic loans and morphosyntactic calques – while others
are new (sentence-internal vs. sentence-shaped shifts,
for instance). Finally, there are terms that are debated,
yet too established to deserve being discarded alto-
gether: ‘borrowing’ and ‘loan’ are thus preferred to
the neologism ‘import word,’ although this term
reflects the true nature of linguistic influence.
Anglicisms and Acceptability
In addition to the structural classification presented in
Tables 4, 5 and 6, a language–political categorization
can be applied to Anglicisms, as not all of them reach
acceptance by (all) language users in the affected
speech community. At any given time, depending
on a number of factors – the type of Anglicism, a
particular item’s (lack of) prestige, its usage history,
etc. – individual items can be ranked as follows, in
decreasing order of acceptability:
1. Integrated items (not intuitively identified as
English loans, accepted by all): French flanelle
< English flannel, probably from Welsh gwlanen
2. Naturalized items (identified as English loans and
commonly accepted): Romanian interviu < English
interview; Hungarian marketing (¼ English)
Table 3 Key parameters in categorizing Anglicisms
Clause, sentence,
and text items
Adapted or adopted
from English
Inspired or boosted
by English models
[not included
in present model]
Table 4 Active Anglicisms
Category Type Examples English trigger
Overt lexical borrowings Single-word unit branding (Danish) ‘branding’
Multi-word unit Learning by Doing (German) ‘learning by doing’
Sub-word unit -minded (Norwegian) ‘-minded’
Covert lexical borrowings Single-word unit keks (Slovene) ‘cakes’
Multi-word unit Stop en halv! (Danish)
[literally ‘stop one half’]
‘Stop and haul!’
Loan translations Compound substitute involtino primavera (Italian) ‘spring roll’
Multi-word substitute ta er at siga (Faroese) ‘that is to say’
Hybrids Partial loan translation Computerkunst (German) ‘computer art’
Pseudoanglicisms Archaism butterfly (Danish) ‘butterfly tie’ (¼ bow tie)
Semantic change overhead (Norwegian)
(¼ slide, OHP transparency)
Contamination after-ski (Swedish) ‘after’ þ ‘ski’
(English: ‘apres-ski’)
Morphological change fit for fight (Swedish) ‘fighting fit’
Jocular derivation webmoster (Danish)
[literally ‘web auntie’]
Linguistic Influence 199
3. Implants (English-sounding, accepted by cer-
tain user groups only): Finnish benchmarking
(¼ English); Danish hænge ud < English hang
4. Interfering items (often inaccurate solutions, in-
cluding mistranslations): (Danish militære barak-
ker < (military) barracks; correct term: kaserne,
originally from French caserne via German
Extending the natural metaphors used in the four
terms above, one could say that these four categories
represent not only a cline in terms of acceptability,
but also a Darwinist race for survival, with many
Anglicisms beginning their life as interfering items,
which – as in the above example – may mislead the
unsuspecting reader: in Danish, barakker are poorly
built one-story houses. Some new, interfering Angli-
cisms, which in written sources are often printed in
quotation marks or italics, reach the implant stage,
and out of these only a few become naturalized, or
end up as fully integrated items.
With respect to idiomaticity, the watershed goes
between types 2 and 3 above. To most language
users, items of types 3 and 4 are seen as foreign or
When Linguistic Influence Leads
to Language Death
It is not the intention here to warn against foreign-
language influence, a primary source of renewal
and growth of any language, including English. On
the other hand, as with drugs and other substances,
what is found stimulating in small doses may kill
in large quantities, and language death is indeed an
issue here. In northern Europe, English has all but
wiped out several Gaelic languages – with Welsh
presently fighting its way back from near-extinction
– and it certainly has exterminated the Norse lan-
guage spoken in the Orkneys until a few hundred
years ago.
Today, more than military invasions or political
power, the media are instrumental factors behind the
Table 5 Reactive Anglicisms
Category Type Anglicism Standard Trigger
Semantic loans Extensions lernen (German) wissen (= know) ‘learn’
Reversions overhøre (Danish) høre (= hear) [overhøre = ignore] ‘overhear’
Limitations morgen (Danish) nat (0–5 A.M.) morgen (5–9 A.M.)
(9–12 A.M.)
literatur (Danish) litteratur ‘literature’
Den erfarne
amerikanske senator,
Joseph Biden, har en
udlægning. (Danish)
Den erfarne amerikanske senator
Joseph Biden har en anden
‘. . . American senator,
Joseph Biden, has . . .’
Phonetic loans Phonetic
unik pronounced as
[oo’nik] ‘unique’
falling intonation in
slightly rising intonation Standard American
intonational pattern
Inflections autobahns (Danish) plural –er -s
Phraseology Hier sind Sie. (German) Bitte sehr. ‘Here you are.’
Constructions Es un maestro de
escuela (Spanish)
Es maestro de escuela ‘He’s a teacher’
Word order Dog, han vil ikke . . .
Han vil dog ikke . . . ‘However, he will not . . .’
Valency Ring en ekspert
Ring til en ekspert /
Tilkald en ekspert
‘Call an expert’
ud af vandet (Danish) op af vandet [op ¼ up] ‘out of the water’
Translationese Favorized
co` pia (Catalan)
[. . . of a book]
exemplar ‘copy’
anla¨ nda (Swedish) komma ‘arrive’
200 Linguistic Influence
continuing triumphs of English on the world map.
And as people add English to their personal repertoire
of languages, Anglicisms are adapted and adopted
into their local vernaculars, whether spoken by hun-
dreds of millions, as Chinese or Portuguese, or only by
hundreds of thousands, as Icelandic and Faroese.
Whether local languages lose domains in the process
or even end up losing all their speakers is decided
by their users, not by native speakers of English or
anglophone institutions.
Taking Denmark as a typical example of a speech
community under English influence, the most im-
portant agents in the ongoing anglification are the
national media, especially those whose texts are
based on anglophone sources. Responding to a semi-
nal Danish study on the impact of English (summar-
ized in Preisler, 2003) – in which influence from
above, i.e., the educational system and the business
world, is amplified by influence from below, e.g.,
U.S.-inspired youth subcultures – the doyen of
Danish Anglicism research, Knud Sørensen, points
out that in his view ‘‘the most important impact of
English might be termed influence from the middle,
i.e. the influence exerted by the press’’ (Sørensen,
2003: 354).
Ironically, a large part of the media-generated
Anglicisms are not deliberately created for effect;
strict deadlines simply do not go well with idiomati-
city when you are juggling with two languages. In
Sørensen’s terms, ‘‘a journalist who works with an
English-language source at his elbow will often be
tempted to take the line of least resistance and make
a rough translation of an English idiom, sometimes
forgetting whether it will make sense to his Danish
readers’’ (Sørensen, 2003: 349).
With an all-pervasive issue such as the English
influence on cognate languages, we easily find our-
selves in a chicken-and-egg situation. Whether we
argue that the media merely reflect the linguistic
realities of youthful customers and audiences – the
position taken by Preisler – or that the media play a
more proactive role in the continuing anglification of
other languages – Sørensen’s point – does not make
much difference. The fact remains that the English
influence comes from everywhere, is felt by everyone,
and has effects everywhere in the given domestic
language, with Danish as a case in point.
As Danish dialects are dying out – at a rate still
matched by few other European languages – we may
soon advance to a situation where Danish itself
becomes a dialect, shared by future bilinguals from
the Danish Isles. Just like Danish speakers of the
Southern Jutland dialect sønderjysk used to switch
off Standard Danish when meeting old friends in
urban Denmark, Danes reading English paperbacks,
watching American films and using English at work
may in the future switch off English when they
spend time with family and friends, in what may
be the only domain of Danish not yielding to English:
the intimate sphere. Today, Danes who master
English – and who accept a modicum of English
influence on Danish – are comparable to those who,
100 hundred years ago, were ahead of their peers
in adopting Standard Danish as a prestigious alter-
native to their traditional dialects, now nearly extinct
(Hjarvard, 2004).
Table 6 Code-shifts
Category Example Pragmatic context
Tags , okay? Standard oral interpersonal assurance formula
. . . en person som under press kan ‘blow the cover sky high!’ Lines from a (Norwegian) novel
‘De Frygtløse’ – ‘The Muuhvie’ (Danish title for the American
animated movie [featuring cows] ‘Home on the Range,’
Common linguistic device in commercial punchlines
and political slogans in semibilingual speech
Way to go, girl! The final words in a (Danish) music review
Total shifts ‘Visit the World’s Biggest LEGO Shop’ (Website for Danish toy
company only in English)
Addressing locals and foreigners through English-only
‘Layout construction: a case study in algorithm engineering’ Title of an academic research paper written by four
(Danish) scientists.
(In some countries up to 90% domain losses in
computer games, scientific papers, pop lyrics, and
certain business documents; more moderate losses
in domains such as advertisements, commercial
brands and film titles.)
Linguistic Influence 201
Metaphors We Drown By: Forever
Flooded by Anglicisms?
The debate on Anglicisms is international and goes
back more than 100 hundred years to the days when
millions of Europeans fled their countries hoping for
a better future in English-speaking North America
and Australia. This wave of poor emigrants coincided
with the heyday of the British Empire around the turn
of the 20th century. And that was the time when the
first critical voices were raised in the apparently
never-ending debate on English linguistic influence
abroad. Especially in Germany, the impact was
strongly felt at an early stage (Dunger, 1899). Even
the flood metaphor, portraying the exposed language
as a victim of some natural disaster, seems to be a
veteran term: referring to the period before 1914, a
later observer noted that ‘‘the flooding of German life
and the German language with English had reached
such an extent that the whole situation for Germany
appeared almost threatening’’ (Stiven, 1936: 101,
cited in Viereck, 1986: 110).
Also in France, a country renowned for its lin-
guistic conservatism, oceanic terms have been
used for what happened to the national vernacular
in the late 20th century. According to one German
Purism has sterilized the language. The French are des-
perately afraid of coining new words. This linguis-
tic Malthusianism is ultimately responsible for the fact
that thousands of foreign words flood into the gap which
has to be filled somehow. (Hausmann, 1986: 87).
This textbook case of German Schadenfreude demon-
strates that in a modern world, what seemed to
be difficult already before WW1 is now impossible:
English cannot be kept back. Instead, bilingual-
ism could be the answer, paired with an increased
awareness of everything that pertains to (one’s own)
language and culture.
Still, waves are always washed away by other waves,
and ‘‘many loans seem to be part of trends and
waves that make a lot of noise, but are relatively soon
forgotten’’ (Graedler, 2002: 79). What is crucial here,
however, is that these recurrent phenomena – short-
lived or not – are always English; neither Europe’s
most spoken mother tongues (Russian and German)
nor the only billionþ language worldwide (Mandarin
Chinese) seem likely to compete with English in this
When it comes to successful export of linguistic
features, the only near-future rival to English may be
Arabic, representing an Islamic culture that is nowthe
only vocal challenge to Anglo-Saxon globalization,
and thus a language with an enormous potential for
covert prestige in the eyes of non-anglophone subcul-
tural and linguistically trend-setting groups the world
over. So far, apart from a few ‘tasty’ words such as
kebab and shawarma, recent European loans from
Arabic tend to represent notions related to religion
and politics, words that often acquire sinister conno-
tations in the process: fatwa, ayatollah, mullah,
imam, sharia, ramadan, intifada, sunna, burka, and
The Development of Anglicisms
As we have seen, influence from English may take
many forms and create many different types of lin-
guistic offspring. An example of how differently
English loans may develop over time is found in
Hong Kong Chinese and Japanese, respectively
(Chan and Kwok, 1986; Ishiwata, 1986). In Chinese
as spoken in Hong Kong, the situation prior to the
integration of the ex-English crown colony was typi-
cally as follows:
Some loanwords may enjoy a brief popularity and are
gradually replaced by terms which are more meaningful.
[. . .] Take the example of ‘laser’. It entered the Chinese
lexicon as [lœy se]; today it is being replaced by the
descriptive [gik gwoN] or ‘piercing ray’ (Chan and
Kwok, 1986: 415).
Expressed in structural terms, what happens with the
‘laser’ type Anglicisms in Hong Kong Chinese is that
what was launched as an incomprehensible phonetic
loan (an overt lexical borrowing) ended up as an all-
Chinese neologism, immediately comprehensible to
the speaker. Of course, this is not a unique Asian
phenomenon; in several languages, not only loan
translations offer themselves as successors to pioneer-
ing English-sounding terms: quite often the original
Anglicisms yield to expressions that cannot by any
standards be termed Anglicisms.
In Japan, the opposite tendency seems to have been
at work for more than a century. Whereas prior to the
Meiji restoration in 1869, Japanese coined its own
translations of (scientific) terms of English origin, ‘‘it
has become more and more common to adopt the
western terms as they are without any attempt at
translation’’ (Ishiwata, 1986: 459).
As indicated earlier, this is exactly the situation in
several European speech communities today. While,
for instance 50 years ago, in German the Greco-
English compound ‘television’ became Fernsehen,
decades later ‘telefax’ was taken over as Telefax.
Along the same lines, in Denmark cinema ‘thrillers’
were baptized gysere (a literal translation of the term)
as this genre was introduced to Danish cinema audi-
ences in the early 1930s, but today’s Danish DVD
202 Linguistic Influence
patrons exclusively use the term ‘thriller’. In the pass-
ing years, the word ‘gyser’ has increasingly been used
metaphorically: in recent press reportage, the term
typically refers to sporting events, political elections,
and the like. This wedging in of a new term (ironi-
cally, in this case, the original English term) allows
the existing word to take on a new meaning, or at
least new connotations. If the old term is not lost
in the process, we have a case of language enrichment.
Dictionaries on –isms: Testimonies
of Linguistic Influence
Given the historical and present importance of bor-
rowings, a vast number of general foreign-word
dictionaries have been compiled. Yet dictionaries
attesting the influence of languages such as French,
German, and Russian are sorely missing, and largely
nonexistent, a fact that is lamented by one of Europe’s
leading names in contact linguistics in his chap-
ter entitled ‘Wanted? Dictionaries of Gallicisms,
Germanisms and neo-classic diction’ (Go¨ rlach, 2003:
124–162). Anglicism dictionaries, however, seem to
flourish, as documented in a comprehensive biblio-
graphy comprising dictionaries and other publications
on Anglicisms (Go¨ rlach, ed., 2002). Still, as long as
national lexicographical definitions and resources vary
considerably, one cannot conclude from dictionary
data on Anglicisms to linguistic realities concerning
their relative numbers – nor their frequencies – in a
given set of languages, as shown in a study compar-
ing Anglicism dictionaries from four Germanic speech
communities (Gottlieb, 2002).
The Introduction of Anglicisms
Anglicisms may be introduced through either person-
al or impersonal contacts between an anglophone
source and a non-anglophone target.
Personal Contacts
The first wave of Anglicisms in the speech communities
surrounding Britain was found in the 18th century.
Mediated by sailors, English nautical terms were in-
troduced overseas. Today, most of these loans are
integrated in the borrowing languages, and in
Denmark nobody except etymologists realizes that
words such as kutter (fishing vessel) and splejse, mean-
ing ‘sharing expenses between friends’ (from ‘splicing’
ropes) are English loanwords. When this influence
from below was first felt outside Britain, the ruling
classes abroad began mediating English influence
from above in adopting English terms and habits,
including everything from gentleman and gin to tennis
and golf.
Outside Europe, colonial elites picked up English,
and since then the English influence has been felt in
national and local languages throughout what is now
termed the Commonwealth nations. In similar fash-
ion, non-English-speaking countries in the American
hemisphere – the Philippines, for instance – were
heavily influenced by American English long before
the Second World War.
Even today, in most of the world’s non-anglophone
speech communities, personal contacts constitute
an important channel through which English lan-
guage features are introduced. A poignant example
is found in the influential foreign-based reporters
often operating in English even when based in an
area where English is not the national language, e.g.,
the Middle East.
Yet since the 1940s at least, most Anglicisms result
from impersonal contacts. They are introduced in
target languages – directly or via intermediary lan-
guages – through literature and the mass media, as
discussed in the following sections.
Impersonal Contacts
Today the media play a more decisive role in lang-
uage change than do personal contacts; the latter
nowadays tend to stimulate foreign-language skills
rather than influence the native tongues of those
Original Products: Direct English Input A major di-
viding line within the impersonal contacts category
runs between translated and original (or nontrans-
lated) entities. Most of the original products are
nonverbal, though as symbols of Anglo-American
lifestyle, they have a major impact on the language
in the cultures in question. Original nonverbal
products include clothes, food, media technology,
etc. Among the verbal products presently consumed
untranslated in non-anglophone speech commu-
nities, not least by the young, are rock songs, video
games, printed fiction, CNN-type news coverage, and
Internet communication in English, phenomena con-
tributing to the possible future loss of domains for
the domestic languages.
Translated Products: Anglicisms Every Minute This
subcategory covers books, technical documentation,
films, DVDs, and TV programs, often comprising
a major part of the total consumption in non-
anglophone countries. In Denmark, some 40% of
what people read – TV subtitles included – is trans-
lated from English (Gottlieb, 1997: 148–153).
All over the world, the audiovisual, or polysemio-
tic, media – television, video, DVD, and film – are
instrumental in introducing language change. The
Linguistic Influence 203
first study to focus on Anglicisms on the screen
(Sajavaara, 1991) highlighted the role of TV subtitles
in the ongoing English influence on Finnish, a lan-
guage which does not belong to the Indo-European
language family.
In Spain, one of Europe’s major dubbing countries,
critical observers have long talked about ‘‘the effect
that English is having on the Spanish speaker at
home as a result of the vast quantities of badly trans-
lated material flooding the spheres of journalism,
radio, television, and advertising’’ (Lorenzo, 1996:
18, quoting A. Gooch: Spanish and the onslaught of
the Anglicism).
A phenomenon often mentioned in this context
are the all-pervading morphosyntactic calques (cf.
Table 5). Certain types of calque are more represen-
tative of dubbing, in which the translated lines should
fit the rhythm of the original dialogue, often lead-
ing to unidiomatic and English-sounding versions
(Herbst, 1994 on German dubbing, Gottlieb, 2001
on dubbing in Denmark). Other types have become
almost second-nature to subtitling from English, in
which viewers hear – and very often understand – the
actors’ original lines. An often-cited example of this is
the transfer of the English ‘question plus affirmative
answer’ sequence in dialogue situations where many
other languages use the opposite pattern to express
the same verbal exchange. In subtitling, the idea of
viewers hearing a yes, but reading a nej (‘no’) seems to
terrify most translators.
Even in dubbing countries, the transfer of such
questions-cum-answers seems to be a problem. In
order to avoid Anglicisms, the Catalan Televisı´o
de Catalunya dubbing stylebook (1997: 62) urges
translators to render the lines
– Because you didn’t want to be a witness, right?
– Yes.
– Perque` voste` no volia fer di testimoni, oi?
– No.
As in subtitling, the idiomatic solution often sounds
wrong, by English standards, which may prevail
if morphosyntactic calques continue to appear as
frequently as now.
That such calques and other reactive Anglicisms
are indeed common in contemporary (film and TV)
translations, both in dubbed and in subtitled versions,
is documented in a study (Gottlieb, 1999) looking at
unintegrated and unidiomatic Anglicisms in the sub-
titles of two American films broadcast by Danish
public-service TV. These two films contained an aver-
age of 0.43 and 0.57 unassimilated Anglicism tokens
per minute, respectively.
In a follow-up study comparing the dubbed and
subtitled video versions of three American family
films (Gottlieb, 2001), the subtitled versions dis-
played Anglicism densities of 0.50, 0.57, and 0.73
tokens per minute, while the dubbed versions con-
tained more than twice as many Anglicisms: 1.04,
1.77, and 1.85 tokens per minute, respectively. In
conclusion, both screen translation methods seem to
play a very active role in the anglification of the target
languages involved.
Within the realm of books and other monosemiotic
media, there is a scarcity of empirical work comparing
Anglicisms intranslations and original texts. However,
a major Swedish study comparing the vocabulary in 27
novels translated fromEnglish with 29 native Swedish
novels found a general tendency toward translatio-
nese, with many default equivalents (cf. Table 5),
thus confirming common knowledge among transla-
tion scholars and critics: ‘‘Many English words seemto
trigger a standard translation in Swedish although the
Swedish translation differs stylistically from the
English original.’’ (Gellerstam, 1986: 91).
Anglification Beyond Words
Not only translated texts – which make up a signi-
ficant part of present-day mass communication in
any minor speech community – reveal that non-anglo-
phone language systems are currently being anglified.
Also original discourse may tell of English influence,
as the personae we create in fiction and the world view
we express in nonfictional genres often emulate
British and American models. In several speech com-
munities, lexis, phraseology, semantics, syntax, and
morphology are in a state of flux; some established
domestic words resembling their English synonyms
obtain boosted frequencies (cf. the favorized cognates
subcategory in Table 5), and even the phonemic
systemis undergoing changes, with English phonemes
getting a foothold in standard pronunciation.
In quantitative terms, Anglicisms may not seem so
conspicuous in European languages today. Yet a con-
siderable part of the present growth and develop-
ment of Western languages is triggered by English.
In Danish, for instance, the vocabulary is being
reshuffled, and not only are more than half of all
new words inspired by English (Gottlieb, 2004: 49),
but these loans – typically nouns – tend to carry
significant semantic weight: ‘‘Those are the words
that are instrumental in creating our world view,
[. . .] and this means that to an increasing extent
we let another culture with its language govern our
reality’’ (Jarvad, 1995: 135; my translation).
In the same vein, Finnish linguist Paavo Pulkkinen
notices that since World War II, the number of new
204 Linguistic Influence
semantic loans in Finnish has increased at a higher
rate than the number of loan translations. He suggests
that the reason for this shift (from active to reactive
Anglicisms) is that ‘‘numerous Finns have recently
begun thinking partly along Anglo-American lines’’
(Pulkkinen, 1989: 92; my translation).
Clearly, the notion of Anglicism has major im-
plications nationally as well as internationally. With
English as a modern lingua franca, the more cross-
national communication, the more Anglicisms in
the world’s languages, the more easily people will
understand each other.
In turn, this may imply that real English is changed
in the process. Especially in Europe, non-native
speakers of English sometimes understand each other
better if their English contains shared un-English syn-
tactic or semantic features transferred fromtheir indi-
vidual languages. Imagine for instance a Frenchman
and a German successfully using the word ‘eventually’
in the same non-native way. Even outside Europe,
such shortcuts may make sense: in Japanese, the
word barakku means the same as the Danish barak,
as opposed to the meaning of barracks in English.
However, the danger remains that the world is
reconceptualized in Anglo-American terms. But
again, in a politically and economically lopsided
world – with anglophone cultures setting the agenda
more than ever – getting rid of Anglicisms in defense
of linguistic purity would only be possible with dra-
conian measures. Paradoxically, in modern society the
steady anglification of domestic languages may prove
to be a litmus test of their viability. Although loss of
domains is an immanent risk to national languages, in
our day and age, a pure language is a fossilized one.
See also: Bilingualism; Dubbing; Language Attitudes; Lan-
guage Policies: Policies on Language in Europe; Lexicog-
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Linguistic Paradigms
T W Stewart, Truman State University, Kirksville,
ß 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
The word paradigm has garnered much attention
since Kuhn’s (1962) influential treatment of scientific
revolution with respect to paradigmshifts. ‘Paradigm’
there refers to a broad frame of reference for scientific
conceptualization and investigation, following froma
set of shared assumptions about what the world is
like. In the linguistic context, however, ‘paradigm’ is
primarily used as a morphological term that refers to
an organized space of potential words or word-forms
related to a common base element.
The most commonly encountered instance of the
linguistic paradigm is a systematically collected array
of inflectionally related word-forms. Such an array is
laid out in the form of a table (see Table 1), and
columns and rows within the table are defined by
contrasting values of inflectional features (see Design
Features of Language).
There is a long-standing tradition of presentation
of word-forms in paradigms in both descriptive and
teaching grammars, where systematic elicitation or
presentation guides the design of visual representa-
tion. It is not the case, however, that all approaches
to morphological description agree on the adequacy
of the notion of paradigm for theory construction.
Linguistic morphological theory can proceed from
one fundamental assumption about the basic units
of the lexicon. The decision whether to adopt a mor-
pheme-based or a lexeme-based conceptualization of
morphology’s most relevant level of description deter-
mines the relevance (or irrelevance) of the paradigm
as a descriptive tool.
In a morpheme-based theory of morphology, the
grammar describes the assembly of complex morpho-
logical objects out of minimal meaningful forms, i.e.,
morphemes. In a morpheme-based theory, inflected
word-forms are not integrally related to one another;
they simply contain a greater or lesser number of
morphemes in common. The paradigm, therefore, is
a merely descriptive conceit – it is epiphenomenal,
and not part of the grammar proper. For this reason,
morpheme-based theories make no special prediction
about the relative relatedness of inflected words con-
taining the same lexical stem versus those containing
the same inflectional affix.
In a lexeme-based theory, by contrast, the lexicon is
organized according to abstract word-like units, or
lexemes, and inflectionally related word-forms are
related in the lexicon via their dependence on a
unique lexeme. In a lexeme-based theory, therefore,
Table 1 Paradigm of the Latin adjective bonus ‘good’
Masculine Feminine Neuter
Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural
Nominative bonus bonı ¯ bona bonae bonum bona
Genitive bonı ¯ bono¯ rum bonae bona¯ rum bonı ¯ bono¯ rum
Dative bono¯ bonı ¯s bonae bonı ¯s bono¯ bonı ¯s
Accusative bonum bono¯ s bonam bona¯ s bonum bona
Ablative bono¯ bonı ¯s bona¯ bonı ¯s bono¯ bonı ¯s
The paradigm is defined with respect to the inflectional features ‘Gender,’ ‘Number,’ and ‘Case.’
206 Linguistic Influence