AUTHOR: Onysko, Alexander
TITLE: Anglicisms in German
SERIES: Linguistik - Impulse & Tendenzen 23
PUBLISHER: Walter de Gruyter
Tyler K. Anderson, Department of Languages, Literature and Mass Communication,
Mesa State College.
Alexander Onysko's monograph _Anglicisms in German_ is intended for specialists
in language contact. The author focuses on the manifestations of English
loanwords as witnessed in a corpus of the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel.
Coupled with the discussion on the lexical productivity of anglicisms, the book
also includes a discussion of German-English code-switching (both inter- and
intra-sentential) as they appear in the corpus.
The book is divided into three parts. After a brief introductory chapter, Part I
takes on the task of defining what is an anglicism, and touches on the
distinction of several theoretical terms, such as the differentiation of
borrowing from code-switching, which can be found in chapter 3. Chapter 2 takes
on the task of synthesizing the various terms used in the antecedent literature
to discuss lexical borrowings, such as loanwords, foreign words, loan meanings,
loan translations and loan creations. The theoretical distinction of the
borrowing process is continued in chapter 4, wherein pseudo/hybrid anglicisms
are distinguished from more direct borrowings. Chapter 5 includes a discussion
on the merits and disadvantages of investigating the etymology of a given word
in determining its status as a borrowing or integrated lexical item. The
information that is presented in the previous chapters is then summarized in
chapter 6, where the author provides a complex ''Model of transmission from SL
(source language) to RL (receptor language)'' (85).
Part II discusses the methodology of this study and provides the results of the
quantitative research. Chapter 7 begins by providing a justification of using
Der Spiegel in the study, including the facility of researching the magazine due
to its accessibility on CD-ROM and the ''traditional medium of research'' (98)
that this magazine represents. Also included in this chapter are the
demographics of the readership, along with a description of the corpus
linguistic software (Wordsmith Tools 4) used in the elicitation of data. In
chapter 8, the author looks at the token frequencies of anglicisms, and finds
that the vast majority (71%) of the anglicisms appear only one time in the
corpus. A diachronic comparison of the use of the most frequent words reveals
that in most cases the token frequencies have increased from 1994 to 2000. The
data also confirms the hierarchies of borrowabilty that other investigators have
postulated (cf. Muysken 2002), namely that nouns are more likely to be borrowed
than adjectives, followed by verbs. Within this chapter, morphological
adaptation is also considered, where gender and plural suffixation are
quantitatively investigated. The chapter concludes with a discussion on the
increase of anglicisms in the German press over the past five decades. The
author does so by comparing findings from his corpus to those of other
researchers using the same newsmagazine in their study. The author finds that
the number of anglicisms per page in Der Spiegel has steadily increased from 2.9
anglicisms per page in 1950 to 6.6 in 2000, which surge, he argues, is in part
''connected to new importations particularly in the field of computer and
communication technology'' (147).
In Part III the results of the qualitative analysis of the data are presented in
three chapters, each one focusing on the grammatical integration of anglicism
into the German morphological system. Chapter 9 for example looks at the
integration of English loans into German, with a special focus on the assignment
of gender and plurality to nominal borrowings from the corpus. The chapter
begins with a review of various theoretical postulations on grammatical gender
assignment in German, which, the author summarizes, is based on an interaction
of phonological, morphological and semantic rules. A default hierarchy
(masculine>feminine>neuter) for nominal borrowings is then postulated. The
author demonstrates how this hierarchy interacts with the phonological, semantic
and morphological rules to determine the gender of nominal anglicisms. The
second half of the chapter discusses the plural and genitive case inflexions of
nominal loans. Chapter 10 continues looking at the lexical productivity of
nominal anglicism, and then turns its focus to morphological patterns of
integration with regards to verbal, adjectival, and adverbial loans. The final
chapter of this section focuses on code-switching in the corpus, beginning with
phrasal borrowings and then looking at the use of inter- and intra-sentential
The book concludes with chapter 12, which provides a brief synopsis of the
impact of anglicisms on the German language and what implications this may have
for its future. The author provides a brief yet enlightening discussion on why
anglicisms are present in the German newsmagazine, focusing on the denotative
and connotative needs of the author, and continues by stressing the important
conclusion that while the corpus in question ''resembles a stable language
contact scenario, in which English influence leads to an expansion of the German
lexicon... these anglicisms continue to have a minimal numerical impact in the
general German language'' (317-318). This leads the author to conclude that
''German stands undisputed in its integrity on the lexical and structural level''
In this stimulating book on anglicisms in the German press, Onysko has made an
important contribution to the understanding of lexical borrowings in a language
contact situation. His ability to analyze the anglicisms in question and provide
plausible implications of these anglicisms on the German language is a strength
of this book. An additional strength is the accessibility of the German-language
text, through translation or paraphrase, to a non-German speaker.
Although the dedication to certain topics was thorough and clear, other topics
were either evaded or only briefly mentioned. For example, while discussing
lexical borrowing, the author fails to include a discussion on what words are
deemed acceptable for borrowing, and which are not. Whereas it is true that
nouns are more commonly adopted than verbs, not all nouns are seen as acceptable
loans, as postulated in Backus' (2000) Specificity Hypothesis. In this
hypothesis, Backus postulates that certain words are facilitated in the
incorporation of the language by their semantic specificity (cf. Anderson and
Toribio 2007). In a similar vein, the conclusion in chapter 12 is too concise,
and could be amplified to include further research questions that would expand
the excellent findings of this monograph.
The most salient shortcoming of this book is the lack of discussion on
intra-sentential code-switching. While other topics were extensively examined,
this one was left with few remarks. For example, aside from the mention of the
seminal research of Poplack (1980), there was no treatment of the literature
dealing with the syntactic implication of code-switching (i.e. Belazi et al
1994, D'Introno 1996), laying the discussion aside because other researchers had
argued that ''these approaches can only account for limited data of
codeswitching'' (288). The author then proceeds to briefly describe
Myers-Scotton's Matrix Language framework. While this framework may be the most
appropriate for analyzing the data in this study, the author provides no
justification for its preferred status over other frameworks (i.e. MacSwan 1999).
Another topic that is not included in the monograph is a treatment on mock
languages (cf. Zentella 2003). At one point the author mentions that some
journalists have used English to ''ridicule German speakers of English,
particularly German politicians'' (116); however, no elaboration on the topic is
included. This discussion could have been fleshed out to show how this
communicative strategy in the German newsmagazine compares to the same use of
ridicule in other language contact situations (cf. Barrett 2006).
Obviously, many of the shortcomings mentioned here concern space and scope
restrictions, and should not diminish in any way from the overall quality of
this monograph, but rather serve as ideas for continued research on the impact
of lexical borrowings on the receptor language. It should be clear that this
book represents an important contribution to the understanding of lexical
productivity in language contact situations, and will be useful to specialists
in contact linguistics, especially those focusing on lexical borrowings.
Anderson, Tyler K. & Toribio, Almeida Jacqueline. 2007. Attitudes towards
lexical borrowing and intra-sentential code-switching among Spanish-English
bilinguals. _Spanish in Context_ 4 (2).
Backus, Ad. 2000. The role of semantic specificity in insertional codeswitching:
Evidence from Dutch-Turkish. In Rodolfo Jacobson (ed.), _Codeswitching worldwide
II_, 125-154. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
Barrett, Rusty. 2006. Language ideology and racial inequality: Competing
functions of Spanish in an Anglo-owned Mexican restaurant. _Language in Society_
Belazi, Heidi M., Edward J. Rubin, and Almeida Jacqueline Toribio. 1994. Code
switching and X-bar theory: The functional head constraint. _Linguistic Inquiry_
25 (2). 221-237.
D'Introno, Francesco. 1996. English-Spanish code-switching: Conditions on
movement. In John B. Jensen & Ana Roca (eds.), _Spanish in Contact_, 187-201.
Cambridge: Cascadilla Press.
MacSwan, Jeff. 1999. _A minimalist approach to intra-sentential code switching_.
Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Muysken, Pieter. 2002. _Bilingual speech_. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Zentella, Ana Celia. 2003. José, can you see? Latin@ responses to racist
discourse. In Doris Sommer (ed.), _Bilingual Games_, 51-67. New York: Palgrave
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
Tyler K. Anderson received his PhD from The Pennsylvania State University in
Spanish Linguistics. He is currently an assistant professor of Spanish at Mesa
State College, where he teaches courses in Spanish language and teaching
methodologies. His research includes manifestations of contact linguistics,
including the acceptability of lexical borrowing and code-switching in Spanish
and English contact situations.