Anglicisms

The terminology of economics and business has always been particularly open to foreign influence (cf. Chapter 2 on the history of business language). After World War II the influence of English became overwhelming, to the point that most economic and business terms in other languages are now imitations of English models. The overwhelming majority of these are loan translations, but a sizeable number of English terms have also been adopted without adaptation into other languages (for a general panorama of Anglicisms in European languages, cf. Gorlach 2002, 2005).

German has a reputation for being particularly receptive to English influence, and the language of economics and business is among the favourite targets of purists (cf. Fink 1995). They, and also linguists (cf. Langer 1996; Kupper 2003, 2007; Meder 2006; Grabow 2008; Rathmann 2012), have been especially exercised by the (ab)use of Anglicisms in the business press and in advertising. At first sight our data provide little justification for this stance. Of the terms on our German business list, only 3% (30 out of circa 950) are non-assimilated - or only partially adapted - Anglicisms. They are Best Practice, Cashflow, Cluster, Design, Dumping, EFTA, Eurobond, Fast Food, Flagship Store, Franchise, GATT, High-Tech, Joint Venture, just-intime, Logo, made in, Management, Marketing, Investment, NAFTA, Netting, Outsourcing, Panel, Profit Center, Recruiting, Slogan, Sponsor, Trainee and WTO; to these we should add Controlling, which corresponds to management accounting and was created in

German as an English word. In all cases, either no genuine German equivalent exists or the equivalent is less common than the Anglicism. Some of these words have definitively become part of German (e.g., Cluster, Design, Dumping), but others have competitors built from German material by puristically-minded speakers, which may one day oust the Anglicisms (e.g., Erfolgsmethode ‘success method’ instead of Best practice, Hauptgeschaft ‘main store’ instead of Flagship Store, Gemeinschaftsun- ternehmen ‘common enterprise’ instead of Joint Venture).

However, if we consider the evidence provided by a comparison with our Spanish and Polish lists, German’s reputation seems more deserved. In Spanish, the proportion of non-assimilated Anglicisms is only a third of that for German, being 1% of the total number of terms. In many instances, Spanish has recourse to loan translation or at least formal adaptation in cases where German tolerates the crude Anglicism:

Cashflow vs. flujo de caja

Franchise vs. franquicia

made in vs. hecho en

NAFTA vs. TLCAN

Management vs. gestion/gerencia/administracion de empresas

Netting vs. neteo

Slogan vs. eslogan

Sponsor vs. patrocinador

WTO vs. OMC

This difference also shows up in the pronunciation of orthographically English words. For example, even though some dictionaries recommend the pronunciation /dampin/ for dumping, most Spaniards in reality stick to the spelling pronunciation /dumpin/. Of course, we also find the same competition as in German between foreign and native terms in Spanish, but overall there can be no doubt that Spanish “digests” Anglicisms better than German. On the basis of a broader corpus-based study, Alejo Gonzalez (2005:173) also reaches the conclusion that Spanish has “a certain preference for adapting over adopting mechanisms”. He shows, furthermore, that the tendency to adopt or adapt varies within the field of economics and business: the number of “integral borrowings”, for example, is higher in commercial and financial vocabulary than in the terminology of economics.

Adaptive tendencies are also stronger in the Polish list of business terms than in the German one. This is evident from the widespread habit of adapting Anglicisms to the orthographical conventions of Polish: biznes (business), franczyza (franchise), klaster (cluster), menedzer or menadzer (manager), etc. Both orthographically adapted and non-assimilated Anglicisms are easily integrated into the morphological system of Polish and can give rise to further derivations or compounds (e.g., franczyzodawca ‘franchisor’ [literally ‘franchise-giver’], or relational adjectives such as fastfoodowy, outletowy, outsourcingowy).

It is important to note that the results obtained for Spanish and Polish must not be generalized to the respective language families, Romance and Slavonic. In fact, it is well-known that some speech communities are more receptive to Anglicisms than others. In the Romance domain, for example, Italian (cf. Rando 1990; Rosati 2004) is notoriously more liberal than both Spanish and French. In France, the obsession with Anglicisms since the 1970s has led to the creation of state-funded terminological commissions. These elaborate lists of French terms that civil servants are obliged, and citizens (as well as privately-owned companies) invited to use instead of the corresponding English terms (cf. Mamavi and Depecker 1992). As laid out in more detail in Section 4 of Chapter 19 on language planning and purism, and in Section 3.1 of Chapter 20 on the language of marketing, French authorities have tried, for example, to convince marketing experts and ordinary citizens to abandon the Anglicism marketing in favour of mercatique - without resounding success.

Within the Slavonic family, there are also important differences in receptivity to Anglicisms. In a recent contribution, Rajh (2012) has analysed the difficulties that Croatian and Slovene translators had to overcome when translating Philip Kotler’s best-selling Marketing Management. Along the way, they had to create new Croatian and Slovene marketing terminologies, for two reasons. First, these countries had only recently adopted market economies, and, second, those native marketing experts familiar with western marketing concepts tended to use the corresponding English words. The adaptive strategies applied by the two teams of translators were quite different, but it remains unclear to what extent these differences reflected personal choices or were representative of more general tendencies in the respective language communities.

Interim summary

Section 3 has shown that some of the factors identified in Section 2 as determining a terminological profile are subject to considerable cross-linguistic variability. That is the case, first and foremost, with respect to the preference for certain patterns of term formation in the nominal and adjectival domain. However, the complexity of noun-noun compounding and the openness towards non-assimilated Anglicisms have also been seen to vary significantly. These results, it must be noted, are specific to the language of economics and business and cannot be generalized across languages for specific purposes.

 
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