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Manfred Görlach’s works have shown the extent to which all European languages have been influenced by English, a useful corrective to those who imagine that their language has been particularly exposed. It should not be concluded, however, that the influence of English and the reaction to anglicisms has been the same in all European language communities, and this collection of essays centring on Austrian German and its neighbours throws new light on how the Central European language communities have been dealing with the problem over the last decades. The tenor is given in the foreword, in which the editors, introducing the book drawn from two lecture series on the subject, give as the justification the extraordinary reaction against the anglicisation of German which became apparent in the late nineteen nineties, not only in the press, but more particularly in the form of associations of language activists, which already existed, but which were suddenly propelled into the limelight. The aim of the studies is to provide a linguistic analysis of a double phenomenon: the admittedly increased influence of English on one hand and the organised reaction against it on the other.

The first two articles are by the editors, and may be considered as giving the general orientation of the volume. In “Anglizismen als Problem des Linguistik und Sprachpflege in Oesterreich und Deutschland zu Beginn des 21. Jahrhunderts” (Anglicisms as a problem of linguistics and language activism in Austria and Germany at the beginning of the 21st century), Rudolf Muhr brings the eye of the linguist to efforts of language activists in Germany and Austria in particular since the second world war. He admits that the use of English, in particular by official authorities in the fields of transport and services in both countries has gone too far, appealing to a young, urban audience while excluding an older, less sophisticated public, and goes so far as to contemplate legislative action, though he does not spell out what form this most unGerman action may take. In general, however, the rise in English language influence which most authors also detect during the past decade is real but largely confined to the ‘appellative’ or eye-catching function. The historical part of this article starts with a potted history of the reaction to foreign words in German, focusing on the period from the 1990’s on, which turns out to be far more active than generally thought at least by outside observers: the principle language activist movement, Verein deutsche Sprache boasting some 13,000 members in the 1990’s, a movement which seems to gain strength at the turn of the millenium. What holds for Germany also seems to hold for Austria, with some minor exceptions, and the author points out inconsistencies in most of their programmes, which are not necessarily puristic in orientation. The question of whether loan words drive out native words is also investigated and found lacking in evidence. The main demonstration of the thesis is an analysis of two lists of anglicisms which the activists wish to replace by German words; not only does Muhr find that almost all of the proposed substitutes are less appropriate than the English words that they are supposed to replace (largely from evidence drawn from ordinary dictionaries), he also comes to the conclusion that the ulterior motive is not to guarantee better communication for German speakers but simply to replace as many English words in German as possible.

In the second article, “Anglizismen allgemein und konkret: Zahlen und Fakten” (Anglicisms: facts and figures) Bernhard Kettermann starts off by examining the various German language definitions and typologies of loan words in general and anglicisms in general, and sets the anglicism problem in the broader context of language change, and gives a quick view of other language planning initiatives. The statistical perspective promised in the title is given partly by comparing the percentage of anglicisms in the largest German dictionary and analysing those 3500 loans included in Carstensen’s anglicism dictionary. Switching to primary sources, Kettermann analyses what may actually be behind Letters to the Editor complaining of anglicisms, and analysing those used in advertising in Austria, giving interesting statistics by industry and age group. The article concludes with comparison of Germanisms in English and anglicisms in French. It is useful to have the statistical perspective afforded by the figures given here, though this article is less ambitious theoretically than the first.

Anglicisms are generally considered as being even more widespread in special language than in everyday general vocabulary. Alwin Fill, in “Anglizismen im deutschen Umwelt-wortschatz” (Anglicisms in German Environment vocabulary), starts off by confirming the dominant status of English in environment studies and actions, before discovering to his (and our) surprise that this domination is hardly reflected in the vocabulary contained in the major German language dictionaries of ecology (almost none) and the environment (very few). There are, however some high-profile anglicisms very current in environment texts, which are analysed in depth. In the case of Recyling (first used in English in the1925-30 period and 1977 in German), the anglicism has been firmly embedded in German, giving many compounds and derivatives, and yet this has not prevented the development of many quasi-synonyms, more indeed than in the original English. Translators will be heartened to see that sustainable (development) has posed problems in German, and the accepted equivalent of nachhaltig is not really satisfactory. Similarly to other studies in this volume, there are useful analyses of sample corpora, showing few anglicisms in many sub-fields, and far more whenever commercial interests are in play.

Richard Schrott “Schön, neu und fesch – die Anglizismen in der deutschen Werbung” (Beautiful, new and smart – anglicisms in German advertising) takes the defence of advertisers and their use of anglicisms. He takes an advertisement which had won a booby prize for its extravagant use of anglicisms and tries to “translate” it into German, coming to the conclusion that English is part of the message. He attempts a sociopolitical explanation, involving the importance of the superfluous in late capitalistic society and the role of English in conveying this. The use of anglicisms mirrors the Americanization of German life. More interestingly, he calls into question what he terms 1950s attitudes towards loans as being justified when they filled in a gap in a word field; now, he claims, the very use of an anglicism shows up the potential gap waiting to be filled. This contribution mirrors general academic feeling in German speaking countries that language activism is decidedly politically incorrect.

The third section of the book is devoted to anglicisms in Slavic and Romance languages.

Heinrich Pfandl undertakes a most enlightening comparative survey of English influence on three Slavic languages in “Wie gehen die slawischen Sprachen mit Anglizismen um? Am Beispiel des Russischen, Tschechischen und Slowenischen” (How do the Slavic languages handle anglicisms: examples of Russian, Czech and Slovenian). Pride of place is given to Russian, obviously the most important of the trio. The history of the Russian language and its general tolerance to loans is recounted here, with special emphasis on the events of the last decades and how these are reflected in the vocabulary; seen from this point of view, it seems almost inevitable that three decades of social and linguistic isolationism have been swept away as the floodgates of capitalism and concomitant use of English were opened up in the 1990s. Reactions of Russian linguists to this phenomenon – generally hostile – are also analysed, as is the way that Russian youth subverts anglicisms to express its own rejection of received values. The two other Slavic languages are characterised by a more discriminating uptake of anglicisms: Slovenian turns out to be the language which has best succeeded in inventing neologisms which effectively replace English words, some of which have become quite current. The author reflects that this is possible partly because of the flexibility of Slavic morphology, and because a community of only some two million speakers can be more actively engaged in the fight for its own survival. He doubts whether this attitude could possibly be applied to German, but does leave the door open for a more discriminating acceptance of anglicisms in his own language.

Renate Rathmayr concentrates on Russian in “Anglizismen im Russischen Gamburgery, Bifstcksy und die Voucherisierung Russlands” (Anglicisms in Russian: hamburgers, steaks and the voucherification of Russia), and goes over much of the ground already covered in Pfandl’s article, but is able to analyse in more detail the reaction to English influence and give a balanced picture of both the extent of the influence, and the reaction. It is interesting to note that, despite various attempts at language planning (the Mayor of Moscow banning placarding in Latin script, for example), there is very little done in the way of language standardisation, and what little of this mostly concerns spelling and transcription.

In “Anglicismes: non merci. Französische Sprachpolitik heute” (Anglicisms; no thank you. French language policy today), Hugo Kubarth, subverting the Englisch: nein, Danke! of the Austrian activist movement. This article gives some historical background to French language planning and attempts an explanation of why the type of intervention changed radically from the 1950s on. There is a brief presentation of the main institutions and the two laws (loi Bas-Loriol and loi Toubon) which regulate French language policy. Two examples are given (cent d’euro and Mél.) and analysed with the irony they no doubt deserve. Attention is then directed at the sanctions meted out to those who transgress the language policy, and the expression Sprachpolizist will remind some of the excesses of some Montréal anglophone media. The author briefly analyses some replacement terms and generally finds them lacking. The original part of the research is a selection (by what criteria?) of 48 words and their reception in the 1997 Petit Larousse, divided into not used (15%), little used (23%), middling use (8%), more than average use (19%), exclusively used (13%) and 22% not included in either form. One could argue about the classification (is logiciel only of middling use whereas message publicitaire more common than spot?), but the results make an interesting comparison with those of Depecker (RINT 1993). This article, more than all the others, highlights the differences between attitudes of linguists in French and German speaking countries, and as such, is a welcome contribution to the debate. It must also be said however, that this article is perhaps even more open to basic academic criticism than the others. Kubarth’s documentation is frankly too limited. His claim that no serious evaluation of the popular reaction to official language policy (page 191) is backed up by Christian Schmitt’s excellent study of 1990 makes no mention of the conferences organised by the GEPE (Groupe d’études du plurilinguisme européen in Strasbourg) in the 1980s and more importantly the studies of the reception of official terminology of the 1990s[1]. Bibliography work is in general rather shaky in this article: the distinction between status and corpus planning is attributed to Haugen (1987- missing from the bibliography) rather than to Kloss (1967), and the French language references are hardly up to date, even for 1999, when this article was probably written. The author also seems to have a lopsided view of French lexicography, insinuating that scientific and technical vocabulary has no part in the “main normative dictionaries”: there is a long and distinguished tradition of dictionaries which make a feature of this vocabulary, from Furetière to the Trésor de la langue française. Even a cursory glance at the Robert will show the extent to which scientific and technical vocabulary are prominently represented.

Martin Stegy, in “Angewandte Linguistik; Welche Antworten dürfen wir von ihr zu Sprach- und Kommunikationsfragen (z.B. zu Anglizismen) erwarten?” (Applied linguistics; what answers may we expect to questions of language and communications (e.g. anglicisms)?) tries to sum up the preceding papers and answer the question posed at the beginning: what can applied linguists do to answer the questions that German (and other speakers) are asking about anglicisms in their language. All this begs the question of what exactly applied linguistics is – is it anything other than studies of language acquisition? The main task would seem to be explaining the situation and putting it into perspective, less a task of answering questions than in raising awareness.

The last section is given over to “statements” (the English word is used here), from a politician of the Freheiliche Partei, a Siemens systems developer, a former general director of Unilever and a professional copywriter, which are much shorter than the articles included, but which contain some very potent arguments, which language planners ignore at their peril. The systems developer, for example, recounts how Siemens formerly had a language policy and translated systematically. This is now felt to be quite incompatible with a global company: everything must be in English, period.

The volume is characterised by a richness in documentation and the many footnotes provide useful insights into complementary research being done in Central Europe on this and related subjects.

It may be hoped that this book will be read in other European countries, as the questions raised are common to so many of them, yet the reactions, the attitudes and the analyses often subtly – and sometimes not so subtly – differ. Yet all too often in European linguistics we know what is happening in our own country and we know what is happening in English-speaking countries, but we remain ignorant of what is happening in the country next door. Görlach would say, we should just write in English. For once, I am taking his advice.