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Twentieth-Century Borrowings from German to English

Their Semantic Integration and Contextual Usage


Julia Schultz

While there are plenty of studies on the impact English has exerted on the German language, the reverse contact situation has been relatively neglected. This monograph sets out to shed light on the German influence on the English lexicon in the twentieth century. It provides the first systematic appraisal of the semantic integration and contextual usage of the words adopted from German in the past few decades. The results presented in this study are based on the evaluation of a comprehensive lexicographical corpus of 1958 twentieth century German borrowings retrieved from the Oxford English Dictionary Online. The present-day usage of the borrowings is illustrated with linguistic documentary evidence collected from a wide range of English language corpora.
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Chapter Two Areas and Spheres of Life Influenced by German in the Twentieth Century


Let us begin with the analysis of the twentieth century German borrowings that have been adopted into English. According to their meaning the words under review have been assigned to nine major areas and spheres of life with their various subcategories. Since several borrowings are polysemous, they fall into more than one category. An example is the noun tingel-tangel, which refers to both “[a] cheap or disreputable music-hall or night-club, esp[ecially] in Germany” or a “cabaret” (OED2) and may thus be assigned to the domains of ‘music,’ ‘entertainment and leisure activities.’

The total amount of borrowings in the various areas and spheres of life is 1958 lexical items. The number includes German borrowings, some borrowings from the varieties of German, and borrowings with a ‘mixed’ etymology, i.e. lexical items that were partly influenced by German and partly from another language. It encompasses all the different types of lexical borrowing, such as direct loans, loan translations, pseudo-loans, and hybrids.

The order in which the various areas and spheres of life will be presented depends on the proportion of German borrowings comprised. Words in bold print are lexical items that are recorded in EFL dictionaries and therefore belong to the core vocabulary. We shall now take a closer look at the field of ‘culture and history:’

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