The development of the German language
regarding foreign words from the French and English
The shifting from Latin and French foreign words to English ones in the German language
- - - - Foreign words in the German
- - - - Foreign words in the German language
In the 17th and 18th century
foreign words from the French and the Latin were most common. In the end of the
18th century English rooted foreign words replaced those taken from
the French and Latin. At the same time the Eurolatin
cultural heritage won from the
The fall of the French has to be regarded from different angles:
In the late feudal bourgeois high class in Germany and Austria French words and phrases and also entire situational registers remained in use up to the first World War, especially in the semantic fields of fashion, living and dining culture, distinguished behaviour and festivities as well as a device of secret talk in the presence of home staff. Both college lessons and practice in liberal arts at universities have contributed to the fact that a limited literary control of the French in the educated classes of society remained that long as well, apart from the obligatory use of the French in diplomacy. In spite of the hostility towards the French since 1813 and 1871 (German-French war) a big part of the French foreign word vocabulary was still used in all those semantic fields by eductated people who were trying not to integrate the writing and pronunciation into the German language.
This can well be seen regarding words beginning with the letter “C”, as there are Cabaret, Café, Camembert, Champagner, Chance and many more. Up to the first World War the cultural value of the French language which even had a social prestige independent from France after the Napoleonic time has also had an immense effect on German dialects, e.g. in the area of Berlin: inne Bredullje kommen.
Another part of the French was kept in an
unrecognizable form and often hardly differentiable from foreign words from New
Latin, Italian and English, e.g.: akzeptabel,
Lektüre, Uniform. The number of foreign words
Next to French and English and other romanesque languages German belongs to the “extroverted languages”, i.e. it is becoming a mixed language.
In the 20th century the English influence on the development of foreign words has permanently increased. Since English has become a lingua franca, most of the anglicisms and Anglo Americanisms are primarily a modern part of the internationalisation of European languages.
In the first World War and
the early Nazi time the English influence temporarily declined due to a pursitic attitude. But afterwards new waves of readiness to
take up anglicisms and Anglo Americanisms followed,
on the one hand being a reaction to nationalism and isolationism, on the other
hand being a reaction to the economic influence of the
Lots of modern anglicism have already been common in the German language in the twenties, e.g. Film, Bestseller, Song, Pullover, Manager, tanken.
After the second World War the Anglo American influence even reached simple private everyday life. The internationalizing American language influence also affected higher cultural levels, especially by a high number of foreign words and technical terms from scientific, technological and cultural fields, e.g. Computer, Trend, Kybernetik, Linguistik.
Sources: Deutsche Sprachgeschichte, Band 3, Peter von Polenz
By Michael Klencz and Torsten Walter