Re: Miscellaneous comments/questions.

From: Asmus Freytag (
Date: Thu Jul 13 2000 - 14:01:19 EDT

At 07:50 AM 7/13/00 -0800, Antoine Leca wrote:
>Alex Bochannek wrote:
> >
> > A similar issue was very interesting to observe in France and
> > Germany. The use of the English language in advertisement seems to run
> > rampant in Germany while almost all ads that include English in France
> > (mostly tag lines) are followed by an asterisk and the literal French
> > translation somewhere near the edge of the sign.
Thanks for the nice trip-report, Alex.

There seems to be always one language that's exerting that kind of pressure
on the other European languages. It just depends on time and circumstances.
Latin used to have that role for centuries, it still does in a limited way,
together with Greek in creating new scientific/medical terminology.
French had this role for some time, perhaps more on the continent.
German had this role, briefly and in a limited way, at the beginning of the
century for scientific terms.

Two things will happen: The words in question can lose their 'foreign'
feeling and become part of the language - usually by some adjustment in
spelling or grammatical forms. (Example: En: cake (pl. cakes) -> De:
Keks (new pl. Kekse). This is now a word that most untrained native
speakers would not recognize as borrowed.).

Or the foreign word can be displaced by a neologism based on native roots.
This is often more successful in the case when there are phonemes in the
foreign word that are very hard to pronounce. It's also one area where
Government-led efforts have had some success over time. Iceland, by the
way, is particularly strict in this regard.

Since English is essentially a Germanic language (that incorporated a large
set of Norman French derived words) its pressure on speakers of other
Germanic languages tends to be higher, since not only words, but phrases
can be borrowed (verbatim or translated word-for-word). The strain between
these borrowed pieces and the native language is in a way less than it would
be for unrelated languages.


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