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Review of  Globalization and the Future of German

Reviewer: Alexander Onysko
Book Title: Globalization and the Future of German
Book Author: Andreas Gardt Bernd Hüppauf
Publisher: De Gruyter Mouton
Linguistic Field(s): Applied Linguistics
Language Acquisition
Subject Language(s): German
Issue Number: 15.2771

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Date: Fri, 1 Oct 2004 05:22:55 +0200
From: Alexander Onysko
Subject: Globalization and the Future of German

EDITORS: Gardt, Andreas; Hüppauf, Bernd
TITLE: Globalization and the Future of German
PUBLISHER: Mouton de Gruyter
YEAR: 2004

Alexander Onysko, German Department, Macalester College.

This volume contains six solicited essays and a selection
of papers presented at a conference on the future of
European languages at New York University in 2002. The
contributions focus on various aspects of globalization and
their implications for the future of German. Due to its
general scope, the book attracts a diverse readership
from the fields of sociolinguistics, German studies, teaching
German as a foreign language, and cultural studies.
Selected articles could supplement teaching in the field of
German studies or serve as readings in introductory classes
in sociolinguistics or language contact. The 22 articles
of the volume are divided into 7 chapters which will be
summarized in the following:

1. Introduction: Globalization -- Threats and Opportunities
(Bernd Hüppauf)
In his introductory article, Hüppauf discusses the two
faces of globalization which are, on the one hand, the fear
of a cultural and linguistic monoculture and, on the other
hand, the opportunity to create a peaceful and unified
world where individual languages can thrive alongside
English as a global means of communication. Globalization
is often perceived as a threat when it comes to the
commercial interests of large corporations. Their policies
invoke the interpretation of globalization as an
"imperialist struggle for domination" (p. 7). Propelled by
capitalistic philosophies, the growing spread of English is
then frequently objected to as a "colonizing act of the
Americanization of the world" (p. 8). While Hüppauf
acknowledges the relevance of such subjective feelings of
loss of identity and homogenization, he concludes his
article with a positive outlook on how societies should
cope with the emerging multilingualism in a globalized

2. Globalization and Language
This chapter sets out with an essay on "The Past Present
and Future of World English" by David Crystal. He provides
a well-crafted and insightful overview of the global spread
of English that is reminiscent of his book "English as a
Global Language". Crystal's essay explores the argument
that "a language becomes a world language for one reason
only -- the power of the people who speak it" (p. 30).
Accordingly, the estimate that more than 1,400 million
people speak English today (400 million as a first
language, 400 as a second language and 600 million as a
foreign language) is tied to the historical development
that turned Great Britain and the USA into the world's
political, technological, economic, and cultural
powerhouses. Despite the increasing knowledge of English
all over the world, Crystal takes a conservative stance as
far as the linguistic impact of English on other languages
is concerned: "When a language adopts words -- and also
sounds and grammatical constructions -- it adapts them. [...]
This will happen to the loan-words currently entering
German and other languages too" (p. 42). While,
historically, the adaptation of English borrowings has been
a common reaction of German (e.g. English "cake" turned
into German "Keks"), there is some evidence in the German
newsmagazine "Der Spiegel" that orthographic adaptation
of English loans is no longer happening or even reversed as
in "Club" and "Handicap" whose assimilated variants ("Klub,
Handikap") gradually vanished during the 90s and finally
ceased to exist by the year 1999. At least for the German
language it seems, thus, necessary to take a critical view
on the sweeping statement that adoption leads to adaptation
on all linguistic levels. Instead, we can assume that the
pressure to phonologically and orthographically adapt
English borrowings is receding due to the growing knowledge
of English in the German speaking world.

Robert Phillipson's contribution "English as Threat or
Resource in Continental Europe" calls for the
implementation of language policies that strengthen
linguistic diversity and abandon fundamental paradoxes of
language policies in the European Union. In contrast to
popular conception that linguistic diversity comes at a
high price in the European Union, Phillipson cites that
"only 0.8% of the total budget for all EU institutions,
meaning 2 euros per year for each European citizen" is
actually spent on translation and interpretation services
(p. 54). It would be interesting to see whether this value
has substantially increased after the expansion of the
European Union to 25 member states in May 2004. The major
paradox, however, lies in the fact that while,
theoretically, all languages of the European Union share
the same status as official and working languages, the
actual "working languages" are often restricted to English
and French rendering "some languages more equal than
others" (p. 56).

In his article "Global English -- a New Lingua Franca or a
New Imperial Culture" Hans Joachim Meyer expresses his
concern that German is endangered by the English language.
For him this would be a "self-inflicted tragedy" rooted in
the widespread contempt of German speakers for their mother
tongue (p. 82). Meyer's impressionistic argumentation
succeeds in raising awareness towards the cultural value of
German. Rudolf Hoberg's article, "English Rules
the World. What will Become of German?", supplies Meyer's
arguments with statistical data. Despite the fact that
German is twelfth in the world and first in the European
Union as far as the number of speakers is concerned, German
publications in the fields of natural sciences and the
humanities have declined during the last decades (from 3.5%
in 1980 to 1.2% in 1996 in natural sciences and 8% in 1974
to 4.1% in 1995 in the humanities; cp. Figure 1 and 2 p.

Chapter 2 finishes with an overview of "National Language
Policies as a Response to the Pressures of Globalization".
Before her discussion of various national language policies
in western and eastern European countries, Petra Braselmann
claims that "where English is responsible for languages
dying as in the United States or Australia, not the
globalizing function of the language but the pressures of
assimilation in everyday life are the cause" (p. 102).
Language policies such as the notorious "Loi Toubon",
however, try to battle the globalizing aspect of English
which, in my mind, evokes the image of Don Quixote chasing
the windmills.

3. The Impact of English on the Vocabulary and Grammatical
Structure of German
This section consists of two articles. In "German as an
Endangered Language?", Peter Eisenberg fulfils the
expectations created in the heading of the CHAPTER
(emphasis added). His article provides an insightful
account of how borrowings (or "alien anglicisms" as he
calls them) are morphologically integrated into German.
Unsurprisingly, this is one of the standard linguistic
questions in research on anglicisms in German that has been
dealt with in numerous studies (cp. Allenbacher 1999, Busse
1993, Carstensen 1965, Glahn 2002,Görlach 2002, and Yang
1990, to name but a few). Despite the plethora of research,
Eisenberg's analysis is innovative in that he postulates
several morpho-phonological reasons why verbal, nominal and
adjectival anglicisms are either prone to integration or
resist it. Adjectival anglicisms, for example, are
described as inflected or non-inflected depending on the
phonological quality of their word-final syllables. For
Eisenberg, adjectival anglicisms such as 'trendy' and
'sexy' are not inflected due to the fact that, "simple
stems with a second unstressed open full syllable in German
generally avoid a naked reduced syllable following them"
(p. 130). While this postulate is essentially confirmed in
a corpus of anglicisms in "Der Spiegel" of the year 2000,
German also shows derivational productivity that
bypasses the lack of the inflection of 'trendy'. Thus, the
suffixation of the nominal base anglicism 'trend' with the
German adjectival suffix '-ig' creates the derived adjective
'trendig' which, as an attribute, follows the inflectional
paradigm of its noun, e.g.: "eine trendige Farbe"
[a trendy color] (Der Spiegel 2000: 45/281). The comparative
form 'sexier' of the anglicism 'sexy' is interesting
as it actually ends in a reduced 'schwa' sound
(e.g. "...desto sexier bist du" [gloss: the sexier you are],
Der Spiegel 2000: 19/275). This form is probably a direct
importation of the English comparative construction which,
however, coincides with the regular comparative suffix '-er'
in German.

In contrast to Eisenberg's contribution, Hermann H.
Dieter's article ("Does 'Denglish' Dedifferentiate Our
Perceptions of Nature? The View of a Nature Lover and
Language 'Fighter'") will surprise the reader at this stage.
Dieter's essay is not concerned with the analysis
of structural and lexical impacts of English on German, but
is instead a tour de force against the degeneration of the
German language as perceived by the author. He emphasizes
the interrelation between linguistic diversity and
biodiversity: "Linguistic dedifferentiation under the
pressure of the one more favoured language [...] leads to a
dedifferentiation of our perception of 'nature' and our
possibilities to sustainably protect and cultivate it!" (p.
147). His example for the increasing lack of
differentiation in German is "Bad Simple English, or
Denglish" which surfaces in various catch phrases in
advertisements (e.g. "Busy for Nature"; "Greening our
children's future", p. 148-49). "Think global, speak local"
is Dieter's imperative for the creation of a linguistically
and culturally sustainable future (p. 152).

4. Internationalizing Science and Technology
The two essays in this chapter focus on the plight of
German as an international language of the sciences. Konrad
Ehlich ("German and Other Non-English Languages of Academic
Communication") stresses the fact that the future of
scientific multilingualism will be decided in Europe. In
order that scientific multilingualism can survive, it is
necessary to create "educational-political concepts for the
future of scientific communication" (p. 183). Ulrich Ammon
("German as an International Language of the Sciences")
presents interesting data that show how the significance of
German as a scientific language has increased at the end of
the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century. Since 1920,
however, German has experienced a rapid decrease so that in
1996 merely 1.2% of natural science publications were in
German. English, on the other hand, has risen to be the
dominating language of science used in 90.7% of natural
science publications in 1996 (p. 162-63). Today, German
scientists find themselves in a catch-22 situation: when
publishing in German, they are criticized for being
provincial; when publishing in English, they can be held
responsible for betraying their own language (p. 168).

5. Language and Identity
The chapter on Language and Identity starts out with a
personal account of the President of the German Bundestag
(Wolfgang Thierse), who takes a similar stance as other
authors in the volume that call for a cultivation of the
German language. However, he speaks out against any legal
restrictions for the use of anglicisms and agrees with the
frequently mentioned truism that "sensibly and sensitively
deployed [...] Anglicisms and Americanisms complement our
language, extend our thinking and enrich our culture as a
whole (p. 189)".

In "Language and National Identity" Andreas Gardt
emphasizes that the concept of 'nation' is constructed from
a political, ethnic, cultural, and volitional point of
view. Above all, language incorporates these components and
functions as the mortar of the construct of national
identity. As an example, Gardt relates to the reunification
of Germany and states that "the debate on the use of
Anglicisms in German is due to a reconsideration of the
role the German language plays for the national identity of
the Germans" (p. 204). This valuable observation, however,
calls for further research as it is not self-evident
whether Germany's reunification indeed has a substantial
impact on the current discussion of Anglicisms in German.
In Austria, for example, popular and scientific opinions
about the use of anglicisms in German show a similar range
than Germany's discourse (cf. Kettemann & Muhr 2002).

The remaining two contributions in chapter 5 exemplify how
language is used as a tool to shape national identity.
Joshua A. Fishman provides an interesting historical
account about Yiddish and its relation to German.
Basically, tendencies of 'Ausbau' (differentiating Yiddish
from German) and 'Einbau' (assimilating Yiddish to German)
have symbolized the degree of differentiation or
identification of Yiddish speakers with German speaking
communities. David L. Valuska and William W. Donner
discuss the example of Pennsylvania German that has led
to the creation of an "American Pennsylvania German identity"
(p. 238). For them, the future of Pennsylvania German is not
necessarily one of language loss. The teaching of
Pennsylvania German, presence in the Internet,
and folk-traditional meetings play a decisive role
for the survival of the language.

6. German in the USA
With the exception of Peter Wagener's study, which gives a
methodologically engaging account of real-time language
change in two immigrant speakers of German in Wisconsin,
the contributions of this chapter focus on issues of
teaching German as a foreign language in the US. Keilholz-
Rühle, Nobbe and Rau sketch the international role of the
German Goethe-Institut which is the main supporting
institution for about 18 million learners of German
worldwide (two-thirds of which reside in Central and
Eastern European countries, p. 247). As far as the US is
concerned, the authors stress the importance of an increased
cooperation between the Goethe-Institut, the German
consulate, exchange-program organizations, and particularly
with the American Association of Teachers of German (AATG).
Lack of cooperation with the latter is the major point of
criticism in John Lallande's article that discusses
important measures of the AATG to counteract the dropping
of enrollment numbers in German programs at US colleges and
universities. Robert C. Reimer (p 268) and Helene Zimmer-
Loew (p. 282) mention that since 1970 enrollment numbers
have decreased from 203,000 students to 89,000 in 1998. In
connection with the declining numbers of learners of German
in the US, the conclusion of Rühle, Nobbe, and Rau's
article adroitly expresses the unisonous voice of the
contributions in this chapter: "'in this place, it takes
all the running you can do to keep in the same place'" (p.

7. Language and the Creative Mind
In the final chapter of the volume the articles by Prisca
Augustyn and Yasemin Yildiz add new perspectives to the
understanding of German in the context of globalization.
Augustyn discusses the semiotic implications of anglicisms
in German. For her anglicisms in German can be interpreted
"as signs of a desire for a community outside the
traditional infrastructure we inhabit [...]" (p. 311). She
concludes that instead of analyzing the linguistic
implications of anglicisms in German, the primary concern
should be the cultural alienation of the young generation
and the concomitant social polarization of German society.
It is, however, important to mention that the semiotic
implications of anglicisms signalling speaker-distance to
locality vary with the function of anglicisms in German.
In the fields of advertisement, fashion, trends, and
life style (the last three are also anglicisms
in German) anglicisms signal aesthetic values. However,
anglicisms in German can also occur as technical jargon
in the fields of computer, communication and
business terminology (e.g. "SMS", "Leveraged Buyout",
"Proxy Server", "Motherboard", "Equity"; Der Spiegel 2000).
In the latter function, semiotic implications appear
secondary to the referential qualities of these anglicisms.

Yildiz draws attention to the fact that the issue of
language and globalization is not merely a matter of the
spread of English, but it can also be related to the
phenomenon of transnational migration. Thus, the influx of
Turkish "Gastarbeiter" into Germany has lead to new forms
of German as in the example of "Kanak Sprak". This language
is a hotchpotch of vocabulary items of different varieties,
registers and turns of speech "which in this form do not
occur in either of the two languages" (p. 327). As such,
Yildiz regards "Kanak Sprak" as an example of language
creativity "simultaneously within and beyond the scale of
national languages" (ibid.). With regard to English
influence on German, lexical creativity is evident in the
examples of hybrid compounds of English and German elements
(e.g. "Abendtalk" = 'evening talk show', "Abschiedsparty" =
'goodbye party') and so called pseudo anglicisms (e.g.
"Talk-Lady" meaning 'female talk show host', "Coverboy"
coined in analogy to E. 'cover girl'; Der Spiegel 2000).

The volume concludes with a positive outlook on how
German could become more popular at American Universities
and Colleges again. John M. Grandin reports that the University
of Rhode Island has successfully revived its German program
by educating engineers in German and by giving them an
opportunity to work as interns in German companies.

This volume provides a multi-faceted view on how
globalization, mainly regarded as the spread of the
American culture and the English language, influences the
international position of German. The majority of the
contributions argue from a socio-cultural and historical
perspective. The discussions revolve around questions of
identity, language policy, educational issues, and the role
of German as a language of science and technology. Apart
from that, the structural integration of anglicisms in
German, their semiotic implications and the creative
linguistic reaction of German is touched upon in a few
articles. The volume is generally well-edited and the
occasional spelling error (not to be mentioned in detail
here) does not really interfere with the conveyance of the
message. In figure 1 on page 91 (Proportion of the
languages in natural science publications), however, the
symbols of French and German for the year 1992 are mixed
up, which can cause some minor confusion. On page 130,
reference is made to the adjectives of group "4g" which
should actually be "1g".

As far as the future of German is concerned, the bottom
line of the various contributions is that German is in dire
need of positive attitude among its mother tongue speakers.
While legal restrictions concerning the use of anglicisms
in German are generally not favoured, initiatives and
investments seem necessary to increase the status of German
as a foreign language and to provide incentives for the use
of German as a scientific language. Thus, various
contributors to this volume concede, that it is vital
to raise awareness about the current plight of German as an
international language and to implement positivistic
measures that foster the international position of German.
In light of these demands, the volume is successful both in
raising awareness about the current critical situation
of German and in postulating some strategies of how the
national and international prestige of German could be

Allenbacher, Peter Kurt. 1999. "Anglizismen in der
Fachlexik".Frankfurt am Main: Neue Wissenschaft.

Busse, Ulrich. 1993. "Anglizismen im Duden". Tübingen:

Carstensen, Broder. 1965. "Englische Einflüsse auf die
deutsche Sprache nach 1945". Heidelberg: Winter.

Crystal, David. 1997. "English as a global language".
Cambridge: University Press.

Glahn, Richard. 2002. "Der Einfluss des Englischen auf
gesprochene deutsche Gegenwartssprache". Frankfurt am Main:
Peter Lang.

Görlach, Manfred. 2002. "English in Europe". Oxford/New
York: Oxford UP.

Kettemann, Bernhard, Rudolf Muhr (eds.). 2002. "Eurospeak:
Der Einfluss des Englischen auf europäische Sprachen zur
Jahrtausendwende". Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang.

Yang, Wenliang. 1990. "Anglizismen im Deutschen: am
Beispiel des Nachrichtenmagazines Der Spiegel".
Tübingen: Niemeyer.

Alexander Onysko is a PhD candidate at Innsbruck
University/Austria. His research interest is language
contact and multilingualism. The topic of his dissertation
is: "Anglicisms in German: borrowing, lexical productivity
and code-switching in a written corpus of 'Der Spiegel'".
He currently teaches German at Macalester College,
St. Paul, MN.

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