An article in today’s edition of the Danish newspaper Politiken is highlighing that the Danish language is full of new words including “Netto generation” (people who shop at the discounter Netto), Curling family (whatever that is). but also a host of English words. It goes on to say that the many English words, the mix up of written and colloquial expressions are changing the language with the result that people could be in danger of losing their national identity. A common language helps connect people and create a common identity.
But it is not just a case of people finding commononalities where it is useful and differences where they want to?
For example if you are from Liverpool you automatically have a rivalry with people from Manchester, but if Liverpudlians and Mancs go to London, all of a sudden they are Northerners and joined through that common feature.
Esperanto is a good example of that.
I think that the influence of foreign loan words has little impact on a people’s sense of national identity. This has been my experience everywhere where I have seen an increase in the use of loan words, Japan, Sweden, France. The pervasiveness of Norman French origin words in English has hardly change meant that English people had less in common in subsequent centuries than other people.
To the extent that people use new words, including loan words, this tends to be a generational thing, with the older generation changing more slowly. A bigger issue, in my view, is solidarity between different generations, and between immigrants and long standing residents of a country.
Esperanto is a good example of what?
@Steve: “…The pervasiveness of Norman French origin words in English has hardly change meant that English people had less in common in subsequent centuries than other people.”
Quite so. And one might add that, during the first few centuries after the Norman conquest, the new Anglo-Norman rulers of England were frequently at war with their French counterparts!
Nevertheless, the modern-day borrowings from English into other languages can sometimes be rather gratuitous, in my opinion. In Germany, for example, there is sometimes a tendency for people to use English in place of a perfectly good and well established German word or expression. People sometimes do this in the belief that it makes them sound sophisticated or “cool”. (Even worse still, people may in some cases be motivated by the the desire to gain some kind of intellectual advantage over fellow native speakers who are less well educated in English than they are.)
There is another slightly different phenomenon, whereby non-natives actually coin completely new “English” words - ones which sometimes wouldn’t mean very much to native speakers!
I’m not sure whether this is in any real sense a problem, but personally I do find it a rather strange thing to do. Are there any native speakers of English, I wonder, who would undertake to invent new English words made up from pseudo-French or pseudo-German!?
Steve asked: “Esperanto is a good example of what?”
I think keke_eo meant that Esperanto speakers feel “connected” despite any geographical distance. I’ve seen posts on various forums confirming that Esperanto speakers tend to share certain interests. Possibly by chance, but who knows.
“There is another slightly different phenomenon, whereby non-natives actually coin completely new “English” words - ones which sometimes wouldn’t mean very much to native speakers!”
To give just one example: in Italian they have a sport or activity called “il footing”, I believe. (It’s not the same thing as “football” - that would be “il calcio”!)
Trust me Jeff, there are many other pseudo-English words that I have come across in modern German bureaucratic texts. I can’t by any means recall all of this stuff at will - I’m very happy to say!
Another example: A “timer” in north Germany is a diary (in the way a Filofax is a diary).
Two more examples from Germany :
An “Organmandat” allows public bodies to collect fines.
“Spontanvegetation” is weeds.
I’ll stop now, I promise.
Thanks Susanne for those German ones.
No need to stop, continue by all means.
Jeff, there are examples in Swedish that I am sure you are well aware of but might have forgotten. One that comes immediately to mind is “freestyle”.
In English freestyle relates to swimming where freestyle is a stroke. Butterfly, freestyle etc are different swimming styles. Freestyle is often used as a synonym for “crawl”.
Indeed freestyle in sports relates to contests in which competitors may use choose the moves or techniques they wish to employ.
In complete contrast, “freestyle” in Swedish means personal stereo.
…då hade min freestyle pajat, batterierna var slut!
When thinking about it there are lots more:
What about telephones? You have “Handy” in German and “portable” in French.
The definition of handy in English —> something that is conveniently near, or something that is useful and easily handled.
The definition of portable in English —> something that can easily be moved; transportable or movable.
Yeah, I’m aware of “freestyle” (and other pseudo-loans) but didn’t know exactly what kind of new coinages JayB was thinking of. I got a bit surprised by the word “Handy” the first time I was in Germany.