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 Lexical borrowing

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PostSubject: Lexical borrowing   Fri 30 Sep - 9:59

Lexical borrowing

Definition: Lexical borrowing is “the adoption of individual words or even large sets of vocabulary items from another language or dialect”.

Adoption of individual lexical items

Vocabulary borrowing can introduce

Fr. Engl. equate, derive, deliver
equatable, derivation, deliverance

suffixes -able/ible, -ation/tion, -ance/ence, which then were freely combined with native elements (e.g. -able readable, drinkable)

- new SOUNDS or new contexts for old sounds

e.g. [x] as in Bach

or final [ž] as in prestige or garage

Adoption of combinations or Collocations of words

Such collocations may influence the GRAMMAR

e.g. the French mode of forming comparatives by means of plus (more) plus the simple adjective has given rise to the following pattern:

beau : plus beau
beautiful : more beautiful

which came to coexist with the native pattern:

long : longer

What can be borrowed?

Lexical items, roots and affixes, sounds, collocations, and grammatical processes.

Most easily borrowed are words referring to technology (e.g. machine, engine) and names for new artifacts and other cultural items (e.g. telephone).
Usually basic vocabulary (e.g. eat, sleep; moon, rain; do, have, be) and function words essential in syntax (e.g. the define article the, or conjunctions like and, or, if, and when) are not so easily borrowed.

(integrating the borrowing more firmly into the own linguistic structure)

Phonological Nativization

1. Adoption of a foreign sound
2. Adoption of a sound in a context where it does not occur natively
3. Substitution of the MOST SIMILAR NATIVE SOUND for a foreign sound

e.g. [k] for [x] as the usual English pronunciation of Bach as [bak]

[s] or [t] for Engl. [θ] as in thriller

or a combination of sounds

e.g. [ ɔ] plus n for Fr. [ Õ] as in salon

Lexical Nativization

1. Complete Adoption of a word (without morphological modification)
2. Adoption + folk etymology
e.g. Fr. chaiselongue (sofa; lit. long chair)  Engl. chaise lounge/ lounge chair

Loan Shifts (opposite of lexical adoption)

Adoption of a foreign concept at the semantic level; no new lexical item is introduced into the borrowing language

Latin Old English
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------caelum ‘sky’ : heofon ‘sky’
‘abode of the gods’ : ‘abode of the gods and the warriors fallen in battle’
‘Christian heaven’ : X
inferna ‘abode of the dead : hel ‘abode of the dead who have not
(below the earth) fallen in battle (below the earth)’
‘Christian hell’ : Y
Loan translations or Calques (process in-between adoption and loan shifts)

A process of “translating morphologically complex foreign expressions by means of novel combinations of native elements that match the meaning and the structure of the foreign expression and their component parts”.

e.g. Engl. chain smoker : Germ. Kettenraucher
skyscraper : Wolkenkratzer

Gender assignment for borrowings

1. formal criteria
2. general semantic criteria
3. considerations of the gender of semantically related native words
4. a default class to which words are assigned if none of the other criteria provides a solution
e.g. Early NFr. garage (m.) Germ. die Garage

tendency for German nouns in -e to be feminine
e.g. Engl. computer Germ. der Computer

class of instrument nouns in -er
e.g. Engl. trend Germ. der Trend

final consonant suggests masculine or neuter gender but the choice is left undetermined = consideration of the gender of semantically related native words as the native near-synonyms Zug or Hang, which are both masculine
e.g. Engl. rush hour Germ. die Rush-hour

final consonant suggests masculine or neuter gender but semantically Engl. hour corresponds to the German feminine die Stunde
e.g. Engl. panel Germ. das Panel

default provision takes over and turns the word into a neuter


The belief that foreign words must have “foreign” sounds may lead to the introduction of hypercorrect substitutions
e.g. Fr. coup de grâce [ku də gRas] as Engl. [kū də gra]

The motivation of this pronunciation is the belief that “French drops its final consonants”
e.g. “no problemo” (instead of the actual Spanish word problema)

Based on other borrowings such as taco, burrito, nacho, or macho, the perception has emerged that final -o is a typically Spanish word-ending

Motivations for borrowing

1. Need for vocabulary e.g. for new cultural items, new technical, religious concepts, or references to foreign locations, flora, or fauna

2. Prestige e.g. after the Norman conquest in 1066

social sphere where French culture non-French-speaking community
and prestige dominated

beef : cow, bull, ox
veal : calf
pork : pig/hog/swine

Prestige relations and their effects
1. Anglo-Saxons + Celts (few borrowings; mostly place names)
2. Danes + Anglo-Saxons (large number of borrowings; also basic vocabulary)
3. Normans + Anglo-Saxons (large number of borrowings; no basic vocabulary)
4. English-speaking Europeans + Indigenous Americans (few borrowings; mostly place names and names for flora and fauna)

Different types of relative social status
Adstratum languages with equal prestige (e.g. English and Norse)
Superstratum language with higher prestige Anglo-Saxons
Substratum language with lower prestige Celts

Linguistic Nationalism is “the use of language to assert the identity and prestige of one’s own people”.

Linguistic nationalism played a strong role in English during the 16th and 17th century
when English writers and scholars inveigh against the excessive use of foreign words.

Modern English favors phonological adaptation over the adoption of foreign sounds; e.g. Bach with final [k] instead of [x].

At the lexical level, however, adaptation is rare and adoption just about the norm.

Adoption: introduction of foreign words
Adaptation: creation of words made up from native sources (e.g. through calquing or the development of loan shifts)

TOPIC : Lexical borrowing  SOURCE : Linguistic Studies **
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