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Review of  English Words Abroad

Reviewer: Lelija Socanac
Book Title: English Words Abroad
Book Author: Manfred Görlach
Publisher: John Benjamins
Linguistic Field(s): Lexicography
Subject Language(s): English
Issue Number: 15.283

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Görlach, Manfred (2003) English Words Abroad, John Benjamins
Publishing Company, Terminology and Lexicography Research and Practice 7.

Announced at

Lelija Socanac, Linguistic Research Institute, Croatian Academy of
Sciences and Arts, Zagreb, Croatia


The book summarizes the methods developed for the multilingual
''Dictionary of European Anglicisms'' (DEA) (Görlach 2001), which is
backed up by two companion volumes: the ''Annotated Bibliography of
European Anglicisms'' (Görlach 2002) and ''English in Europe''
(Görlach 2002). It presents the extent of the lexical impact of
English loanwords on individual European languages and cultures. The
book is a collection of conference papers and contributions to
journals and festschriften written by M. Görlach. The author's
intention was not only to bring the scattered contributions together
and bring the evidence up-to-date, but also ''to provide a survey in
which the interrelationship of the various methodological aspects and
considerations relating to the topic were made explicit''. To a large
extent, repetition was successfully avoided as far as this was
compatible with the aim of retaining as many clues to the history of
the project as possible.


Initially, a general outline of the main topics is given, some of
which are dealt with in more detail in the chapters that
follow. Rather than present the book chapter by chapter, I will try to
outline the main issues. Along with presenting the methodological
principles underlying the DEA, a survey of the existing research in
the field is given, together with an overview of the earlier
dictionaries of anglicisms. As a rule, they are limited to English
loanwords in national languages, which largely determines their basic
approach. As opposed to the traditional historical etymological
approach, the author stresses the need for a dictionary recording the
actual usage of anglicisms in various European languages. It is
rightly pointed out that usage should be central to any synchronic
study intended to capture the fleeting presence of English lexis in
the various languages sharing in the borrowing process.

The major European languages included in the DEA come from the main
language families: Romance (French, Spanish, Italian, Romanian)
Germanic (German, Dutch, Norwegian, Icelandic), and Slavonic (Russian,
Polish, Croatian, Bulgarian) with Finno-Ugric (Finnish, Hungarian) and
two unrelated languages added (Albanian, Modern Greek). The scheme
includes languages from the East and West, which permits conclusions
about the degree to which the anglicization depends on linguistic
structure and exposure to the English language and cultural
traditions. It also permits contrasts of degrees of purism
vs. permissiveness and insights into the mediating influences of
French and German.

The raw data were collected from dictionaries, monographs and studies
devoted to anglicisms, newspapers, radio, television and specialized
journals. The collected items were then tested on educated users of
individual languages as informants, mainly in the usage statements in
the form of self-reports, with judgments of acceptability, frequency
and style. The criteria of inclusion follow from the basic definition
of anglicism as a word which is recognizably English in its form
(spelling, pronunciation, morphology) in at least one language. This
excludes words that have been so fully adapted that their English
origin is no longer apparent to the general user. In addition, items
of neo-classical (Latin/Greek) character whose English provenance is
impossible to determine, as well as many words from other languages
transmitted through English, do not qualify for inclusion. Code-
switches, quotation words used for a certain stylistic effect and
playful uses are not included. Items of a highly technical character
and limited currency are excluded, as well as elements of foreign
(Anglophone) cultures, archaisms and product names.

The earliest forms of loanwords are not taken into consideration
because they are often identical for several Germanic languages, and
it is sometimes impossible to decide which language borrowed from
which. The playful uses from journalese and advertising are not
included since ''they were not meant to be introduced as permanent
loanwords''. This position is slightly questionable, since it is often
impossible to predict whether some of this ''fleeting vocabulary'' is
going to be dropped or become more firmly integrated. The position
taken with respect to neo-classical vocabulary was that it should be
left to another dictionary, and that entries can be admitted only for
those words that carry some Englishness in their form in at least one
of the languages sampled. In most cases, words from exotic languages
have not been included since in languages such as Spanish, Portuguese,
French and Dutch they were often borrowed directly, without the
English mediation. Words designating items in a foreign culture are
not taken as loanwords unless they come to refer to objects in the
receiving culture. In my view, loanwords of this type provide common
examples of cultural borrowing, which should make them candidates for
inclusion. In dealing with technical terms, it is difficult to decide
which terms to include, especially in fields such as sports or
computer technology since the scope of their usage can expand very
quickly. As a rule, archaisms are excluded; however, items obsolete in
one language, but with living reflexes in another have been
recorded. Proper names are excluded unless they are used as generic
terms. On the other hand, English words disguised through mediation
qualify for inclusion, as well as derivatives and compounds made up
from elements of English provenance, along with pseudo-English words
and meanings. Calques in individual languages are mentioned if there
is an entry for the English word because it exists in other European

The individual factors which can affect the integration of anglicisms
include different phonological and morphological structures of the
individual languages, the functional status of English in a speech
community involving the frequency of language contacts and the
specific domains affected by it, the official encouragement or
stigmatisation of anglicisms, and the functional range of the receptor
language. Although the integration of anglicisms is a long-term
expectation, the high prestige of the donor language can slow down
accommodation, or block it entirely. Due to the frequency and range of
uses and the degree of speakers' competence in English, all the
languages concerned may end up having a layer of unintegrated English

Anglicisms can become integrated on the levels of spelling,
pronunciation, morphology, meaning, and style. For languages with
different alphabetical systems, transliteration is usually employed.
Where Latin alphabet is used for the national language, there may be
three chronological stages. In the first stage, the English spelling
is retained which may trigger 'spelling' pronunciations. The second
stage may be to integrate the word graphemically, while the third
stage is marked by adoption without graphemic accommodation due to
extended proficiency in English. Although there is a great variability
in the pronunciation of loanwords in which age, sex, education and
regional provenance may play a role, the trend towards closer
approximation to English pronunciation is increasing in all European
languages. Morphological adaptation commonly involves the allocation
of gender and plural forms. Due to a frequent conflict between natural
gender, morphological structure and semantic analogy, the outcome of
the individual gender allocation is often impossible to
predict. Adjectives are often minimally inflected or not at all, and
as a consequence they are sometimes used in the predicative position
only. Comparison is easy for languages using analytic methods but
problematic for those which employ inflexions. The integration of
verbs tends to be easier for most languages. The base form of the
English verb is well defined, and the set of national inflexions is
easily added. Since many modern anglicisms are compounds, their
integration largely depends on the structure of the receptor
language. In any case, compounds imitating the English pattern appear
to be on the increase. Although most borrowings are lexical items,
some frequent suffixes, such as -er and - ing, are often borrowed as

On the semantic level, one of the greatest problems is to describe how
far meanings of anglicisms agree with those recorded for the English
source, and amongst each other in the respective receptor languages.
Meaning changes in the borrowing process even in the case of monosemic
items; at best, denotation can be held constant. Sometimes several
meanings are borrowed successively. Thus, loanwords in different
languages borrowed from the same etymon cannot be fully equated. In
addition, changes of meaning, or archaic senses preserved in loanwords
can give important clues to the paths by which words spread from one
language to another. Regarding style, loanwords can become part of the
core vocabulary, or remain restricted in various ways. The following
stylistic categories are distinguished: formal/informal,
new/obsolescent or archaic, euphemistic/ facetious/fashionable;
technical, and evaluative (referring to items stigmatised by the
speech community or even banned by legislative measures).

The DEA lexical entries are structured in the following way: 1) the
lemma in its English form, 2) part of speech label, 3) meanings in all
languages included, 4) the major facts of the word's history and its
spread across Europe; 5) language sigil, 6) spelling, if different
from English, 7) pronunciation, 8)gender, 9) pluralization, 10) date
of acceptance, 11) way of transmission (mediating language), 12)
number of the meaning referring to the English source, 13) degree of
acceptability/currency, style markers and domains, 14)calques,
indicating the relative frequency of the alternative items, and
l5)non- lemmatized language-specific derivatives.

In the end, valuable suggestions are given regarding new directions in
the field of multilingual lexicography where similar methodology could
be applied. To give a more comprehensive picture of lexical borrowing
in European languages, the DEA should be complemented by at least
three similar dictionaries: for neo-Latin/Greek coinages, for French,
and for German. In this way a comprehensive history of cultural
contacts in post-Renaissance Europe could be presented based on the
lexical evidence. Neo-classical vocabulary is part of the medieval
tradition of Europe. A second wave of neo-classical neologisms came
with the development of modern science from the 18th century
onward. French has dominated certain fields of literature, philosophy,
diplomacy, science, the fine arts, fashion, and cookery from the
Middle Ages onwards. Moreover, it was extensively spoken by the upper
classes in many European countries in the 18th and 19th centuries.

The international impact of German, on the other hand, is largely
historical, and it is geographically restricted mainly to Northern and
Eastern Europe. German loanwords were adopted in several layers. In
the first phase, words were borrowed from German-speaking settler or
trading communities, often from spoken discourse, and affecting terms
of daily life. This early layer affected individual European languages
in Scandinavia and in Eastern Europe in different ways. Thousands of
germanisms in neighbouring languages provide a striking contrast to
the few dozen widespread cultural borrowings of the modern age from
German in English, French or Italian. Another layer, which extends
well into the 19th century relates to technical terms introduced by
artisans. Regions under Prussian and Austrian domination had a
considerable number of German administrative terms. The dominance of
German university education and scholarly learning has provided a
large number of scientific terms; they tend to be, however, from
neo-classical roots. Many of these words have become obsolete, or have
been replaced by native equivalents or new borrowings, mainly from
English. French had a historical function and geographical
distribution similar to that of English today, while a large number of
German loanwords in Eastern Europe are close-contact phenomena,
whether the loanwords have remained dialectal or not. On the other
hand, Low and High German have contributed to the formation of new
standard languages in Scandinavia. Pilot studies undertaken to attest
the presence of German and French loanwords in European languages
confirm that the function of French as a European lingua franca before
1900 parallels the role of English today. By contrast, the impact of
German was so different in individual periods, regions and
sociohistorical contexts that research should concentrate primarily on
the contribution to individual receptor languages. In the end,
statistical data obtained from the CD-ROM version are given, which
could provide a stimulus for further research into possible
quantifications that could be made on the basis of DEA.

The book contains a List of figures, a List of abbreviations, an
Appendix with translations of illustrative texts, References, and
Indexes (Index of names and Selective word index).


This book is a fascinating account of principles and methods
underlying the ambitious and complex project which has resulted in the
Dictionary of European Anglicisms. To be sure, the main principles
have been expounded in the dictionary itself, but the space awarded to
expository introductions in dictionaries is always limited. This book
gives full justice to the scope and complexities of this highly
successful project, and I would warmly recommend it to readers who are
already familiar with the DEA and its companion volumes, as well as to
everyone who is interested in (multilingual) lexicography, contact
linguistics, and the impact of English on European languages.


Görlach, Manfred (ed) A Dictionary of European Anglicisms: A Usage
Dictionary of Anglicisms in Sixteen European languages, Oxford
University Press, 2001.

Görlach, Manfred (ed), An Annotated Bibliography of European
Anglicisms, Oxford University Press, 2002.

Görlach, Manfred (ed), English in Europe, Oxford University Press,

Lelija Socanac is a researcher at the Linguistic Research Institute,
Zagreb, Croatia. She is currently directing the project "Croatian in
Contact with European Languages". Her research interests include
contact linguistics, sociolinguistics and lexicography.