Anglicismes : variétés diatopiques et genres textuels Anglicisms: Diatopic Varieties and Textual Genres

Ramón Martí Solano ,
Cristiano Furiassi 
et José Luis Oncins Martínez 

Full text

1Research on Anglicisms is gaining ground among scholars working in general linguistics—especially contact linguistics—but also in lexicology, phraseology, sociolinguistics, corpus linguistics, discourse analysis, and translation studies. The development of new technologies and the omnipresence of the internet and social media on a global scale over the last twenty years have boosted significantly the borrowing and loan translation of thousands of English words and phrases to different degrees depending on recipient languages and cultures.

2The present issue of Espaces linguistiques is dedicated to Anglicisms with a focus on their presence in diatopic varieties and textual genres: it indeed includes four articles—one written in French and three in English—respectively dealing with four recipient languages (or language varieties), i.e. Canadian French, Doukhobor Russian, German, and Czech.

3On the one hand, research on the influence of English on world languages, especially when some of them present distinct diatopic varieties, needs to encompass their linguistic, historical, geographical, and cultural diversity. For instance, Spanish has one national variety in Europe and no fewer than nineteen national varieties on the American continent—twenty if US Spanish is added to the list, albeit not being officially a ‘national language’. Many lexical borrowings are common to all the above varieties, as they have become internationalisms, such as brunch, internet, waterpolo, muffin, and hundreds of others. However, the influence that the United States has exerted and still exerts on its ‘backyard’—not just Mexico but all the other Latin-American countries—is not without consequences for the adoption of Anglicisms unknown or non-institutionalised in Spain.

4By way of illustration, Mexican Spanish is particularly open to borrowings, either adapted, such as the verb checar (from to check) or the noun concreto (from concrete), or non-adapted, such as influenza, but also to calques, such as parque de diversiones (from amusement park) or cima de la tabla (from top of the table)—all of these absent from European Spanish. Other calques go beyond the mere linguistic contact and reflect the impact of American popular culture and lifestyle in Mexico, as with, for instance, tienda de conveniencia (from convenience store).

5The situation is entirely different if one compares Quebec French and the French of France, as Quebec authorities have always made great efforts to preserve their linguistic and cultural identity against the ‘invasion’ of Anglicisms. However, this seemingly clear-cut distinction is becoming less so, as the prestige enjoyed by the French of France among French speakers in Canada is influencing the spread of anglicized usages in Quebec (see Elchacar, in this volume).

6On the other hand, textual genres denote both written and oral texts belonging to a wide range of categories in all the various forms and formats that they may take. Before the era of electronic corpora, research on Anglicisms relied on the eagle eye and the acute ear of experts that jotted down words read in newspapers or heard on the radio or television. Nonetheless, the mainstream press is still widely exploited by researchers, both as a source and as a corpus, since journalism is a major breeding ground for lexical novelties of all sorts, including Anglicisms. The subgenres of sports games, business and finance, and information technology tend to abound in Anglicisms (see Klégr & Bozděchová, in this volume), as well as the language of gaming or social media, among many others.

7A fine-grained quantitative and qualitative analysis of the different types of Anglicisms and English-induced lexical creations in various receptor languages definitely needs the specification of the textual genre or subgenre used as a corpus.

8The article by Mireille Elchacar, written in French, deals with the situation of Anglicisms in the most widely studied variety of French on the American continent, that is Quebec French. The author focuses on two different types of Anglicisms: on the one hand, Anglicisms describing the diversity of gender identities and sexual orientations; on the other hand, Anglicisms common to Quebec French and the French of France, i.e. job, fun, and fin de semaine/weekend. As for the former, the author argues that even though the Canadian-French language organisation, the Quebec Board of the French Language, has come up with French equivalents for denominations such as queer or LGBT, speakers have not adopted them and instead regularly use the English words, a fact which shows that the need for clearly expressing sexual diversity prevails over the official French equivalents. As for the latter, the author reports on some interesting changes that account for the influence of the French of France as far the use of job, fun, and weekend are concerned: the progressive change of the grammatical gender of job, the alteration of the syntactic structure in which fun is embedded, and the extended use of weekend on a par with the traditional and well-established French Canadianism fin de semaine.

9The article written by Veronika Makarova constitutes the very first lexicological description of Anglicisms in conversational Doukhobor Russian, an endangered language variety spoken in Canada by Doukhobors, an ethno-religious speech community of Christian dissenters and pacifists which originated in the Russian Empire between the 17th and the 18th century and whose beliefs include the rejection of church rituals, priesthood and materialism. She begins her investigation by tracing the history of Anglicisms in Doukhobor Russian, which spread over three main periods: the first wave of Anglicism importation generated in 18th-century Russia, prior to Doukhobor migration to Canada; the second stage developed throughout the 19th century, following the early years of immigration; the third and final phase of Anglicization also took place in Canada between the late 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century. Furthermore, Makarova points out that, as Doukhobors have been mostly relying on oral history, no dictionary or grammar of Doukhobor Russian exists to date. Therefore, by examining an oral sample obtained from interviews with twenty fluent Doukhobor Russian speakers, she singles out the Anglicisms present therein and assesses their role both from a semantic and a pragmatic perspective. Makarova concludes by stating that the way in which Anglicisms are employed in Doukhobor Russian differs from their usage in Standard Russian, hence contributing to the perception of the former as an inferior language variety and, eventually, to its disappearance.

10Sabine Fiedler’s article addresses the impact of English on German through an analysis of the presence of a considerable number of Anglicisms in an area of language traditionally associated with French, namely cuisine. It presents the findings of an empirical study on the use of Anglicisms in a German TV cooking show. Thus, her study is, first of all, original in that it deals with an unexplored genre which comes very close to spontaneous and naturally occurring communication. Moreover, through a detailed analysis of a large dataset she has compiled—with nearly four hundred Anglicisms—Fiedler comments on the communicative functions of the different types of Anglicisms found: direct borrowings, loan translations (calques), and hybrid constructions in all their different structural forms, e.g. simple and complex word lexemes, among which phraseological units stand out as very frequent. In so doing, Fiedler’s analysis convincingly demonstrates that the communicative purposes of cooking shows are closely related to the use of the Anglicisms under scrutiny.

11Aleš Klégr and Ivana Bozděchová’s article examines the presence of hybrid Anglicisms in Czech, i.e. formations made up of English and Czech lexical morphemes (free or bound). Their study is based on a sample of 500 items of this type of Anglicisms collected manually from different sources. Their thorough analysis allows them to assess and outline the range of areas in which they occur and, more importantly, to delimit the concept of Czech hybrid Anglicisms in their two main categories: derivatives and compounds. Thus, as far as the distribution of hybrids across genres in Czech is concerned, the analysis shows that no remarkable differences are found when compared with other languages. However, it is in terms of the preference/prevalence of one type of hybrid over the other that the study offers interesting results. Indeed, while in the specialized literature hybrids are primarily associated with compounds, Klégr and Bozděchová’s examination shows that hybrid derivatives prevail in Czech, a finding which enables them to advocate for a language-specific approach to this type of Anglicisms.

12On a final note, these four articles are hoped to provide a fresh impetus to further research on Anglicisms in the world languages and language varieties by stimulating linguists to delve into the intricacies of a global phenomenon that still remains largely unexplored in many of its nooks and crannies.