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Review of  Dictionary of European Anglicisms

Reviewer: Lelija Socanac
Book Title: Dictionary of European Anglicisms
Book Author: Manfred Görlach
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Linguistic Field(s): Historical Linguistics
Subject Language(s): English
Issue Number: 13.1629

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Görlach, Manfred, ed. (2001) A Dictionary of European Anglicisms: A
Usage Dictionary of Anglicisms in Sixteen European Languages. Oxford
University Press, xxv+352pp, hardback ISBN 0-19-823519-4.

Lelija Socanac, The Linguistic Research Institute, Zagreb, Croatia

European languages have influenced one another in a number of ways
throughout their history. In discussing the present-day influence of
English on other languages, one should keep in mind that English has
always been open to foreign influences. From its beginnings and during
its spread over the British Isles, English has borrowed extensively from
other languages, notably Latin, Scandinavian, and Norman French. Since
the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the establishment of
English-speaking colonies in North America, Australia, New Zealand, South
Africa and elsewhere has led to the emergence of numerous ''world
Englishes''. The enormous spread of English was accompanied by extensive
borrowing of many indigenous terms, which were integrated into its
lexicon to be passed on to other European languages. Today, the influence
of English as the global language has grown on an unprecedented scale.
Since no language in history has been so widely used, it is difficult to
foresee the linguistic consequences. In any case, it is a phenomenon of
central importance, offering vast possibilities of study. :

The influence of English as an international language today is immense,
in fields ranging from electronic communication to pop music. Some
countries, especially those with strong purist traditions, have tried to
stop the inflow of anglicisms, but the results have not been very
impressive. Due to the prestige of the Anglo-American civilization, the
English impact is noticeable in most European languages.

During the various stages of integration of English loanwords, the
resources of the borrowing language come to the fore in the process in
which they are adapted to its morphological and phonological structure.
It is interesting to follow the development of word meanings in
borrowing languages, which sometimes considerably diverge from the
meanings of the model. Besides, many new words are formed from English
elements in European languages which do not exist in the donor language
(pseudoanglicisms). Some of the pseudoanglicisms can pass the boundaries
of the language in which they were coined and spread into other
languages. In this way, the English elements acquire a life of their own
in their new linguistic surroundings.

A Dictionary of European Anglicisms documents the spread of English in
Europe, providing an exhaustive account of English loanwords in sixteen
European languages: Icelandic, Norwegian, Dutch, German, Russian, Polish,
Croatian, Bulgarian, French, Spanish, Italian, Romanian, Finnish,
Hungarian, Albanian, and Greek. So far, a number of dictionaries have been
published recording anglicisms in individual national languages. This
dictionary, however, is the first lexicographical work giving a
comparative overview of English loanwords in several European languages.
The Dictionary of European Anglicisms provides a systematic description of
the lexical input of English into sixteen European languages from
different language families, excluding those in close contact with English
(e.g. Irish, Welsh, and Maltese). Data have been collected for four
Germanic languages (Icelandic, Norwegian, Dutch, and German), four Slavic
(Russian, Polish, Croatian, and Bulgarian), four Romance (French, Spanish,
Italian, and Romanian) and four other languages (Finnish, Hungarian,
Albanian, and Greek) This selection allows the analysis of a number of
contrasts '' purist vs. open speech communities, Western vs. Eastern
countries, regional comparisons (Scandinavia, the Balkans), and the impact
of mediating languages (French and German in particular). Since the influx
of Anglicisms into European languages is constantly growing, it is
important to set the time limits. Thus the dictionary documents the
lexical input of English into European languages up to the early 1990's.
Earlier loans are included, but contributors have focused on the modern
lexis imported after World War II.

Criteria for determining the status of an anglicisms are not always easy
to establish. A word is included in the dictionary if it is recognizably
English in form (spelling, pronunciation, morphology) in at least one of
the languages tested. This excludes most internationalisms coined with
Latin or Greek elements (administration) and many words from other
languages transmitted through English (avocado, anorak). The principle
allows the inclusion of words which, although clearly derived from
English, are not themselves English words, or which are used in a non-
English way as a member of a different word class (assembling) or in
un-English, compounds (antibaby pill). Words not known to the general
educated reader, such as various specialized terms, have been omitted.

Each entry includes a variety of information in a fixed sequence and in a
greatly condensed form. The English etymon, as a headword, is followed by
appropriate part-of-speech labels and all the meanings recorded for
loanwords in the various languages, which is very important for
additional, non-English meanings which a word has acquired in the course
of its semantic adaptation. The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Current
English (9th ed., 1995) is used as a point of departure for definitions.
For the more significant items, the data on the word's history and its
spread across Europe are summarized in a few sentences, providing very
interesting socio-cultural information. Grids showing distribution
patterns across Europe accompany many of the entries. A complete grid
thus provides the reader with an instant visual summary of the degree of
acceptability of a particular anglicism in individual languages,
language-group specific patterns, and regional clustering of traits.

The final section gives information for each individual language in which
the loanword occurs, including spelling and pronunciation, gender and
pluralization (in nouns), approximate date of adoption, and, where
relevant, the mediating language. Each entry also provides data on the
degree of integration in terms of currency, style value and
acceptability. A native equivalent is given especially for loan
translations or other forms of a calque. Non-English derivatives are
included in the same entry; derivatives which are also English words have
separate entries.

The information concerning the pronunciation of anglicisms in various
languages is especially valuable, especially since it is rarely found in
national dictionaries. As a rule, pronunciations of English loanwords are
difficult to record because of their variability. The information on
gender offers ample opportunities for comparative analysis, since the
English natural gender has to be adapted to the grammatical gender in
most of the borrowing languages involved.

A list of abbreviations and symbols used in the Dictionary is included,
as well as a map of languages covered within the Dictionary. I must admit
that the map is not quite clear in some respects, since some of the
borders (notably, those of Croatia) do not correspond either to the state
or language borders. A list of references containing at least the most
important national dictionaries of anglicisms would be useful, but it is
not provided in the book.

A Dictionary of European Anglicisms is the result of an impressive
research effort across Europe. This dictionary, meticulously recording
the forms, meanings, usage and history of individual Anglicisms in
various European languages offers a wealth of information and is a
valuable tool for further research on the subject. It is an important
resource for comparative analysis and the study of linguistic variation
and change. The data will also be of interest to the compilers of
bilingual dictionaries for the evidence they contain about faux amis, for
instance. Besides, the dictionary will certainly be of interest to
linguists and all those who are interested in the new development trends
in European languages resulting from their extensive contact with

However, I must disagree with the author's introductory remarks that
although ''the influence of English on other languages has been
noticed (...) there has never been an exhaustive treatment of the
phenomenon'' and that ''no dictionary of the type has ever been
attempted''. I would like to mention that a similar project, entitled
''The English Element in European Languages'', was launched in 1970's
by Rudolf Filipovic in Zagreb, Croatia. The aim of the project was
to provide a theoretical basis for the study of language contact
phenomena, and apply the results in compiling a large dictionary of
anglicisms in twenty European languages. Methods for the analysis of
anglicisms in European languages have been elaborated and a large
multilingual corpus of anglicisms has been collected. Since this
ambitious project has not been brought to completion yet, G�rlach's
dictionary is a pioneer in this relatively little-studied area of

Since new anglicisms enter European languages almost daily, while some
fall out of use, it is to be hoped that the work on this valuable
dictionary will continue and that new editions will be produced in years
to come.
Lelija Socanac is a research assistant at the Linguistic Research
Institute, The Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Zagreb, Croatia.
Her research interests include contact linguistics, sociolinguistics
and lexicography.

Format: Hardback
ISBN: 0198235194
ISBN-13: N/A
Pages: 384
Prices: U.S. $ $99.00