LINGUIST List 7.732

Wed May 22 1996

Disc: Millennium, Influence of English

Editor for this issue: T. Daniel Seely <>


  1. Charles Rowe, re: disc.: millenium: L.Hartman's 'aught' Q
  2. Charles Rowe, Re: Q: influence of English

Message 1: re: disc.: millenium: L.Hartman's 'aught' Q

Date: Tue, 21 May 1996 22:27:26 EDT
From: Charles Rowe <>
Subject: re: disc.: millenium: L.Hartman's 'aught' Q

Though I'm not familiar with 'aught' in date expressions, I know of it in
(only) one other context: as a designation for zero in rifle?
calibre:e.g., 'twenty-aught-six.'

Either way, it certainly seems like a convenient way to designate the
first decade of the new millenium. Wonder what the media has been tossing

Charlie Rowe
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Message 2: Re: Q: influence of English

Date: Tue, 21 May 1996 23:18:22 EDT
From: Charles Rowe <>
Subject: Re: Q: influence of English
Re: 7.677

I believe I am familiar enough with Berlin/German society to render a
pretty accurate description of the current state of affairs.

In Germany, esp. in "non-Southern" regions, English has pervaded several
social and professional arenas. As would be expected, the younger
generations seem to be carrying this trend along quite swiftly. But
unlike a simple "trend," it also has creeped into much of the vocab. of
middle-aged Germans (it is not so common among the elderly, for probably
several reasons, exposure being one of them--degree of exposure, that

Computer terminology I know to be inundated with English lexis--though in
my view, this was more the case 10 years ago than now. I have noticed
that "speichern," e.g., seems to be overtaking "saven" for 'save.'

Trade and commerce seem to be holding on to the Engl. lexical additions.

Skilled labor seems to be relatively unaffected.

In the social arena, it is not rare to hear strings whose only German
lexemes are function/form words and "basic" vocab. This phenomenon is
especially pervasive in Berlin, again, for probably a mixture of reasons,
not the least of which is Berlin's *very* favorable impression of the USA
and its people--much of which they credit to the US' post-war (WWII)
activities in Germany, esp. Berlin.

Perhaps the most interesting arena where I observed this phenomenon was
in Aerobics. I do not know where aerobics/aerobic classes first took
off; but at any rate, the following generalizations seem to hold:

"bare" nouns (nouns w/o determiners)--terminology anyway--is almost 100%
wholesale borrowing from English. This is the case even where there is an
available equivalent German noun which could have been engaged instead
(e.g. 'das Step'. It is also interesting that the assignment of neuter
overrides the gender of the Germ. equivalent ('die Treppe')). Parts of
the body are "basic," and therefore are rendered in German.

Verbs seem to be a mixed bag. When used in any form other than the
imperative or as part of a compound (e.g., Jump! or Hop-turn), the verb
is rendered in German. (i.e., uninflected/seemingly uninflected verbs in
aerobics jargon are the only ones rendered in English).

Prepositions (esp. when used imperatively) seem to be 50-50
Eng./Ger.--depending mainly on the idiolect of the instructor. (e.g.:
Up! Down! Up! Down! consistently with some instructors; Hoch! Ab! with

The "cooldown" --with its longer and more complex strings--is usu.
conducted in "pure" German. This is perhaps the case also because the
most body-part terminology is used here.

Again, for the aerobic jargon I can only testify as to Berlin; I have no
knowledge of how other (esp. Southern) regions/speakers are handling this.
But in general, I believe I can safely say that South-Germans are much
less likely to engage in "Mischsprache" (lit. 'mixed-language') than
speakers in other areas. But perhaps this is only in the social (ie,
dancing, "partying" etc.) arena.

Charlie Rowe
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