How much is your language influenced by English?

Easterner   Saturday, October 16, 2004, 01:31 GMT
Judging from my own experience, some European languages are heavily influenced by an influx of English vocabulary (mostly German, but also French and to a lesser extent, Dutch). This is especially true for the informal spoken variety, where it is quite "trendy" to use English words. In my opinion, some borrowing from English is normal, because it is really the only "supranational" language nowadays, like Greek or Latin used to be earlier (indeed, they did a lot to supplant other languages which they made an impact on). I think the best way to keep check on over-using English vocabulary is to develop an awareness that your own language is by no means inferior to English, it has exactly the same expressive capacity (if not more) as English has. Reading literary works or watching native movies, as well as theatrical performances are ways to achieve this. Playing language games can be another.

On the other hand, borrowing is a normal phenomenon, and languages that have been heavy lenders have also been heavy borrowers: English at any rate has been perhaps the heaviest borrowing language of all ages, it took its present form largely with the help of thousands of Latin and French words (and Latin in turn also relied a lot on Greek). So I keep wondering: How much is too much? Should the use of English words and English content in general be checked by laws, as it is done in France? Is not this purist attitude likely to be counter-productive? Or should speakers be left to their own taste to judge this? Is it the fate of European languages to become "anglicized"? Do you feel your language is too much influenced by English?

I think some people use English words out of sheer snobbery, and they are largely bad speakers of English. For me, it is this attitude that is more annoying, not the influx of English words in itself, which is natural. So my proposal: learn more English to realise that there is more to English than just "OK", "hello", "cool", "rulez", "shopping", "talkshow" and others. And by doing this, you will also learn to respect your language more in the process. Do you agree?
abc   Saturday, October 16, 2004, 04:29 GMT
languages are languages, and languages must evolve
Easterner   Saturday, October 16, 2004, 08:20 GMT
Of course they evolve, I'm fully aware of that. What annoys me is that many people use English vocabulary without being really familiar with English-speaking cultures. On the other hand, as I have stated it earlier, many words are coming into other languages from English because of contacts with English-speaking cultures (mostly American), and taking over words for things specific to those cultures. This is quite normal. Examples of this are especially linked to Internet culture: "chat", "topic" (on forums), "blog", "mail", etc, but also to lifestyle: "fitness", "wellness", etc. It is normal that people use them, even if they speak various languages. I suppose most languages will be a lot more anglicized in a few decades, but I'm speaking of here and now. How does witnessing "evolution" make you feel?
Q-Cumber   Saturday, October 16, 2004, 08:45 GMT
Why is it that other languages are so happy to accept English into their language when it seems to me that English speaking people, well new zealanders at least, seem so unopened to other cultures? I hear that it is a common occurence in European countries for foreign films and tv programmes to be shown on television. Well, the other day I was channel surfing and I came across a television channel called Triangle TV, some sort of multi-cultural auckland channel, and they were reading out viewers comments and one of the comments was a man camplaining that "it is absurd to show programmes in other languages in New Zealand. We can't understand what they are saying and it shouldn't be allowed". Is that ridiculous or what? You'd think they'd be happy for something different to break the monotony. Obviously Europeans don't share this negative attitude.
Sanja   Saturday, October 16, 2004, 15:10 GMT
Well, I think it's normal that English has a big influence to other languages nowadays. For instance, when I first started using Internet I didn't know anything about computers and I picked up all the computers terminology from English, I still don't know how some of those things are called in my native language... LOL :) But then again, many people here still don't use computers and don't speak English, but I hope that is about to change. But it's true that people are starting to use words like "cool" etc. even though they don't speak English. I don't think that is such a bad thing (borrowing words from English), but I agree with Easterner that everyone should respect their native language.
Tremmert   Saturday, October 16, 2004, 15:44 GMT
I'd say a lot - almost as much as French and German and... oh wait, did you mean people whose native language isn't English? Sorry.
Lavoisel   Saturday, October 16, 2004, 16:46 GMT
A language would, of course, become completely useless if it wasn't able to name the things people do or see in their daily life. That being said, we know the consequences of too many borrowings from other languages: in English, spelling isn't consistant at all. What I would not appreciate would be to see the same evolution in French. That's why I somewhat prefer the English borrowings to be used in spoken French only. But the problem with that solution is that the words l'Académie Française offers instead of the English ones are, first, offered when it is too late and that using the English term has already become mainstream, second, often too ridiculous for people to be willing to use it ("brouteur" [= grazer] instead of "browser" anyone? Well, no I'm fine). We should stick to simple solutions like they do in Spain: letting the word in the language and slightly altering it to suit Spanish pronunciation and orthography. (Stress -> El estres; hamburger -> una hamburguesa).
Damian   Saturday, October 16, 2004, 16:52 GMT
Lavoisel...welcome back.
Lavoisel   Sunday, October 17, 2004, 14:38 GMT
Hello stranger. ;)
Goran   Sunday, October 17, 2004, 16:17 GMT
Hi! I think that from all European countries, Germany uses the most English word. Job, date, girl, boy, star... you name it! There are not many English words in Macedonian, because we use the Cyrilic alphabet, so they look kinda weird when we write them. But there are still quite a few: image, show, look, styling, performance, loser, cool, wow etc.
Easterner   Sunday, October 17, 2004, 17:28 GMT
As I see it, some languages borrow words more easily from English than others. With German this can be seen as quite normal, it being quite closely related to English. But there are other similar languages, such as Serbian, which has a lot of loanwords, mostly from French, but also, increasingly, from English. On the other hand, Hungarians and Croatians prefer finding a native word for things like "computer", "colporteur" or even "helicopter" (in Croatian), and a whole lot of others. Interestingly, there are people who still find that there are too many English words in Hungarian, and want to "purify" it from these. I think the degree of borrowing depends at least partly on the number of speakers of English as a second language in a given country (the more there are, the more readiness there is to borrow). On the other hand, in countries which have been "dominating" throughout history, there is generally less concern with language "purity" (at least on the level of ordinary usage) than in countries where preserving the language has been a concern through most of their history.
Goran   Sunday, October 17, 2004, 19:42 GMT
Helicopter means the same in Croatian as it does in English. The Croatian word for "computer" is "racunalo", but they also use "kompjutor" (pronounced the same as in English ...
Catalan boy   Monday, October 18, 2004, 02:18 GMT
One of the most curious things is that many Asian countries have recieved all their western influence through English language and not through another western languages (there are, of course, a few exceptions).

For example in Japanese when they want to say "kiss" they say it in the English form because their equivalent in Japanese hasn't the same meaning. So when it is between lovers, etc., they say "kiss"! Is the same with Chinese language: for example they say "cheese", that has no equivalent in Mandarin.
Jim   Monday, October 18, 2004, 02:35 GMT
Japanese has been influenced by other European languages but in recent decades this has been on the decline.
Easterner   Monday, October 18, 2004, 06:47 GMT

I recently met the word "zrakomlat" ("air-beater") being used for "helicopter" in Croatian. But the usage varies in various official versions of the Serbian-Bosnian-Croatian area. It is definitely not used in Serbia and Bosnia. And what I definitely did not mean is that Croatian is not influenced by English at all. It is only that in many cases they prefer home-made words rather than "imported" ones from English and other languages - at least officially, on an academic level, but not necessarily in everyday usage. For example, Serbians say "oficir" ("officer", in the army), while in Croatia it has been "cˇastnik", like in Slovenian. Similarly, "airplane" is "avion" in the former and "zrakoplov" in the latter. I'm never sure about Bosnian usage, so I'd better leave this to Sanja. :-)