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«Foreigners», «Ausländer», «Extranjeros»

Cultural and Linguistic Representations- Kulturelle und Linguistische Darstellungen

von Mariann Larsen (Band-Herausgeber:in)
©2014 Sammelband 211 Seiten


The book investigates the European debate on culture and identity by pointing to those uses of language that shape the image and perception of migrants in host societies. The term ‘foreigner’ is highly sensitive to changes experienced by communities. Its meanings transcend its traditional semantic scope and lead to the discussion of notions such as nation, nationality, immigration, integration, citizenship, nationalism and multiculturalism. The words ‘foreigner’, ‘Ausländer’, ‘extranjero’ and the network of related terms are discussed from a multidisciplinary approach with the aim of identifying the core features of the concept of ‘foreignness’ in German, Spanish and English.
Dieses Buch untersucht die europäische Diskussion über Kultur und Identität. Im Zentrum steht dabei derjenige Sprachgebrauch, der das Bild und die Wahrnehmung hinsichtlich der Migranten in den Gastgeberländern prägt. Bei gesellschaftlichen Veränderungen wandelt sich auch der Gehalt des Begriffs «Ausländer». Seine Bedeutung geht über den traditionellen semantischen Rahmen hinaus und führt zur Diskussion über Konzepte wie Nation, Nationalität, Migration, Integration, Bürgerschaft, Nationalismus und Multikulturalität. Die Wörter ‚foreigner‘, ‚Ausländer‘, ‚extranjero‘ und deren semantisches Umfeld werden fachübergreifend behandelt, um die Grundmerkmale des Begriffs ‚Fremdartigkeit‘ auf Deutsch, Englisch und Spanisch zu identifizieren.


  • Cover
  • Titel
  • Copyright
  • About the editor
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Inhaltsverzeichnis/Table of Contents
  • Preface
  • ‘Foreigners’ and the discourse on Multiculturalism
  • Portrayals of the English as foreigners: Cultural and linguistic representations in travellers’ discourse
  • „Menschen ausländischer Herkunft“ – Bezeichnungen der Ausländer in den Weihnachtsreden der Staatsoberhäupter in Spanien und Deutschland
  • The idea of Nativeness and its repercussions on the concept of Competent Translator
  • Von „Arbeitsmigrant“ bis „Zuwanderer“ – eine analytische Sammlung deutscher Bezeichnungen für den Begriff „Ausländer“
  • The static conceptualisation of foreignness in Spanish dictionaries. Implications for a new cognitive frame of migration
  • Understanding the semantic field of “foreignness” in English: a cognitive-semantic study of the term “foreigner” and other related ones


The purpose of the book is to present the results of a research carried on “The representation of the ‘foreigner’ in the institutional discourse of Germany, Spain, and the UK from 1945 onwards” as part of the project ALTERAE1 that aims at exploring the different ways in which the ‘ other’ has been conceptualized, represented and reflected in those types of discourse that most significantly create and transform social reality. The word ‘foreigner’ and the network of related terms are discussed from various linguistic and multidisciplinary approaches with the aim of identifying and foregrounding the central features of the concept of ‘foreignness’ and making for the analysis of a complex notion heavily loaded with political, cultural, social and psychological implications.

In our contemporary globalized world, characterized by the porous nature of the political, cultural, technological and economic frontiers, as well as by massive flows of international mobility, the term ‘foreigner’ is highly sensitive to changes experienced by communities. Its meanings transcend its traditional semantic scope and lead to much debated notions such as nationality and identity, to no less controversial socio-economic, political and ideological issues such as immigration and integration and the critical concepts of citizenship, nationalism and multiculturalism.

Recent studies (Saunders 2005) have accurately pointed to the instability and ambiguity of the term. Its multiple semantic features
are tightly interrelated: foreignness is a relative quality or attribute – we are only foreigners in the eyes of others – and it is thus an image, a mental representation created by a specific social group in a socio- cultural, historical ideological and affective context that changes in time and according to an unstable social reality. The core meaning is tied to the variable ‘in/out’ and presupposes the ideas of a frontier and boundaries: territorial, cultural, linguistic and/or psychological. The term implies as well the ideas of belonging, difference, distance, displacement and uprooting. ← 7 | 8 →Foreignness is often codified as the ‘marked’ term in lexical oppositions, with negative or excluding prefixes in the various languages.

The different chapters of the book are organized into two thematic blocks. The first chapters deal with cultural and more general aspects, whereas the last sections exhaustively describe empirical and linguistic aspects of the terms in German, Spanish and English.

In her article, Mariann Larsen approaches the implications of the concept of ‘foreigner’ within the ideological debate on multiculturalism and immigration. Starting from the notion of ‘alterity’ as negative or positive representations of foreigners and the historical and philosophical basis of hospitality in Western cultures, she briefly surveys the different positive alterity frames created in Europe as tentative models of tolerance towards foreigners. In the contemporary context, foreigners are identified with immigrants and a post-multiculturalist version of the model stands as an option for the accommodation of immigrant communities as opposed to nationalism. The author focuses on the ideological dimension of the notion ‘multiculturalism’, its ambiguity and vagueness and revises the many contradictory uses of the term. Although the term has recently been wiped out from political discourse she maintains, on the grounds of objective reports from international organizations, that in a globalized world where mobility and migration are increasing exponentially, the integration of immigrants is in the long run an inescapable issue and some viable ‘post-multiculturalist’ model will necessarily have to be implemented to meet the challenges of international migration.

Travelers books have traditionally been an important source of information regarding foreigners. Marta Nadales focuses on the idea of cultural perspective and on the linguistic and cultural representations of Englishmen as foreigners in a selection of texts written by Spanish travelers between 1837 and 1919 with an analysis of themes and of the strategies of identity construction. She reflects on the way in which the Spanish travelers of the beginning of the 20th century portray Englishmen as examples or models of progress, organization, modernity, good habits, elegance, education and democracy. The foreigner is in this case a positive image, and it reveals much about the Spanish feeling of identity, as well as significant contrasts between the representation of ‘I/me’ vs the ‘other’.

In her analysis of the Christmas speeches delivered by the Heads of State of Spain and Germany between 1999 and 2011 the author Irene ← 8 | 9 →Szumlakowski Morodo studies how the way the terms are used reflect political and historical social changes, particularly those related to migration.

The term ‘non-native’ is often synonymous with ‘foreigner’ and it tends to be systematically associated with negative connotations, particularly that of inferiority. Urszula Wojcik explores how deeply entrenched in popular beliefs are the ideas of a ‘native speaker’ vs a ‘non-native speaker’ by studying its uses in the context of professional translators. By demonstrating that the notion of a native speaker is deeply rooted in folk beliefs about the nature of language and about the processes of acquisition and learning as well as in myths about the homogeneity and purity of a mother-tongue she does away with the common prejudice that non-native speakers, i.e. foreigners, cannot fully know a language that is not their mother-tongue, nor translate into it as proficiently as native speakers would do.

The last section of the book deals with research carried out on the words ‘Ausländer’, ‘extranjero’ and ‘foreigner’, together with their related terms from lexicological and cognitive-semantic perspectives.

Authors Paloma Sánchez Hernández and Irene Szumlakowski Morodo make an exhaustive survey of primary and secondary terms referring to the notion ‘Ausländer’ in the German language. They systematize the terms from a lexicological approach in terms of their semantic characteristics, social and political values, and formal criteria such as grammatical category, frequency, productivity, date of appearance in written texts, etymology and usage. Their article emphasizes the close relationship between the social and political context and the contemporary proliferation of terms in official and newspapers discourse.

The vocabulary of a language is intrinsically related to the world view projected by the community of speakers, and the analysis of the lexical resources of a language is thus a useful strategy for the description of the categories and the relations established in the speakers’conceptual schemata. The lexicon of a language offers a repository of patterns with a stable meaning and sets of shared images. From this standpoint, Paloma Tejada analyzes to what extent the linguistic expressions that have been adopted from the eighties onwards in various European languages to describe the migration of foreigners actually fit into the traditional linguistic representation of the phenomenon in Spanish, where the notions of cause and effect seem to neutralize ← 9 | 10 →those of agentivity and movement. Her conclusions may be the starting point for a debate on the interrelation between international discourse and local culture, contribute to raising linguistic awareness in language users, and contribute to identify problems and implement local policies.

In her article Elena Orduna takes a cognitive approach to the meaning of ‘foreign’. She rejects the traditional idea that the concepts of ‘foreigner’ and ‘national identity’ are exclusively based on the idea of territory and national frontiers, and shows that they are centered on the notions of ‘belonging’ and ‘displacement’. This leads to a change of paradigm and a re-structuring of the semantic field, with significant lexico-semantic changes and the inclusion of new terms that allow for the description of an increasingly changing complex social and cultural reality.

The book aims to be a contribution to the contemporary European debate on culture and identity from an academic perspective by pointing to those uses of language that directly and indirectly shape the image and perception of migrants in host societies. Clarifying the meanings of words seems to be a necessary initial step for effective communication and for critically analyzing current attitudes towards migration.

Prof. Mariann Larsen Pehrzon


1 MICINN -FFI2011-24172.


ISBN (Paperback)
2014 (Oktober)
identity migrants integration citizenship multiculturalism
Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2014. 212 pp.

Biographische Angaben

Mariann Larsen (Band-Herausgeber:in)

Mariann Larsen Pehrzon is Associate Professor of English Linguistics at the Complutense University of Madrid. Her research interests focus on pragmatics, discourse studies, stylistics as well as semiotics and the study of the relations between text and image. Mariann Larsen Pehrzon ist ausserordentliche Professorin für englische Linguistik an der Universität Complutense, Madrid. Ihre Forschungsschwerpunkte sind Pragmatik, Diskursanalyse und Stilistik sowie Semiotik und die Analyse der Text- Bildbeziehung.


Titel: «Foreigners», «Ausländer», «Extranjeros»
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216 Seiten