Academic Writing and Research
January 31, 2004
The Process of Globalization The Process of Anglicising German Culture and Language?
Fig. 1. Hans-Jürgen Bahr. Umgeben von Anglizismen. February 2002. Table of Contents
Table of Contents2
Businesses The American Lifestyle in Germany4
The English Influence in Politics5
The "Germarican" Media6
"Denglish" The German Youth Language7
Peer Editing Sheets17
To begin with, I would like to introduce the term anglicism. An anglicism is a word from British or American English used in a non-English language (Yang 7). Today, our world is closer connected than ever before, and therefore the cultural identities of the countries around the globe blend more and more from individual identities into one overall identity. This is due to a process called globalization. This term signifies "a social change, an increased connectivity among societies and their elements due to transculturation" (Wikipedia: "Globalization"). While the process of globalization steps further, it became obvious that the one culture having the most influence on other cultures is the American way of life. The use of English words in the German language has increased enormously during the last 50 years. This expansion started during the American occupation of Germany after World War Two. American soldiers and their families living in Germany brought the Hollywood flair, the Rock'n'Roll, and a great deal of American products to Germany. The German population seemed to develop a strong desire for this particular American lifestyle. In today's time, however, Germany is not any longer occupied by the United States of America, France, Russia, or Great Britain. On the other hand, it is to be mentioned that the United States grew to a global power during the cold war, influencing other countries in their social, cultural, and political live. Due to the authority of the United States as a global power in politics and economy, the English language and culture remains prevalent in Germany. This ascendancy has a great effect on the German media, which tends to change from German into American. All this suggests that anglicisms have almost unnoticeable "snuck" into the German language und culture and are now encroaching upon them.
Businesses The American Lifestyle in Germany
The pressure of the American economy on German companies has always been a great issue, but especially today, where the world's countries are economically closer connected than ever before, the American influence has a great effect. The economic policy of the United States is controlling businesses throughout the entire world and therefore has a great impact on every country and company: the world's business language is English for instance, and the company structures are changing into American structures (Wikipedia: "Types of companies"). This has a particular effect on Germany as well, since a great deal of German companies is focused on the world market or owned by American companies, which influences the internal structure of those companies and each individual employee. This can be seen for instance with the Fast Food chain McDonald's, an American company, which brought a whole new gastronomic culture not only to Germany, but to the entire world. The boom, which McDonald's brought about, becomes particularly evident by looking at a couple of numbers: The first restaurant in Germany opened in December 1971, in 1999 the number increased to be a thousand and just within 2003 by another 48 restaurants to a total number of more than 1.240 restaurants in Germany (www.mcdonalds.de). Whereas the Fast Food restaurants in the beginning at least tried to adapt to each particular country, a "Happy Meal" at McDonald's for instance used to be called "Junior Tüte" in Germany, they meanwhile changed to have a world wide promotion policy: "I'm lovin' it", "Ich liebe es" etc. It is to be noted, though, that in Austria the slogan "I'm lovin' it" is used, although most Austrians speak German or Italian. The next illustration is the German postal service, which grew from the state owned agency Deutsche Bundespost to the internationalized private company Deutsche Post World Net. The German postal service wanted to grow and become international. To reach this goal, the company went private in 1995. Their concept was borrowed from American companies, which already succeeded in becoming international. Therefore the company bought other companies as DHL and Danzas. To guarantee the communication within the company, a unified company language was introduced, which is English, and not German, as one might have thought. As well as the company language was changed, the products and services provided also unified to English, as can be seen on www.deutschepost.de. The Deutsche Post World Net as a German company grew to be a global player within just 10 years adapting to the American business structures. (Interview: Jan Hähnel) The English Influence in Politics
During the past years the European Union gained more and more influence in the world's politics. The European Union is considered a partner of the United States of America with its own strong position within world politics. In Germany, however, politics concerning the United States are slightly different. Germany had been occupied for almost half a century and therefore the German government has always been and still is influenced by the politics made in the USA. According to a survey by the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung called Die Deutschen zu Europa und Amerika the German population favors a good political relationship towards the USA, but also fears that Germany and especially the EU might lose their individuality in this globalized world. It is believed in Germany that the German government has to decrease the American influence on the European politics. The German government on the other hand also knows, how important the United States are, as an equal partner to ensure the safety in an at least transatlantic sense. Concerning Germany's domestic policies, the English influence became notable as well. In 2004, the German government decided to have German schools teach English as a second language from third grade on, and not as it used to be from fifth grade on. The German government and the schools as well therefore acknowledged the importance of English as a second language, but also assisted our students' anglization. Learning English and German almost simultaneously brings students to accept the English language and culture more easily. A further aspect is the German spelling reform, which was introduced in 1995. Within this reform the spelling of German words and the German grammar was simplified, since the German government believed to help the students in German schools, which they thought to be swamped with the previous rules of spelling and grammar. The result, however, may be questioned, but this obviously shows that the German government focuses more on how to make the German language simpler than caring about the language purity in Germany. This spelling reform brought the language in Germany closer to the English language, since it officially acknowledged anglicisms as German, as for instance Management, Beautyfarm, or Baggy Pants (www.duden.de). The "Germarican" Media
The media, the world's largest business, has great power in every country. During the last years, however, it became particularly notable that the German media turns more and more into American media style. Regarding TV shows, movies, and TV news, the German TV producers adopt American TV as is to be seen with TV shows like Big Boss The Apprentice, Beauty Queen Nip/Tuck, Stromberg The Office, Verschollen Lost, and Frei Schnauze Whose line is it anyways? (www.faz.net). The German MTV channel is not even producing its own shows; it is merely broadcasting the American shows with German subtitles. The German music channel VIVA is broadcasting shows made by the American equivalent VH-1 with German subtitles as well, though they have some German productions, titled with English names: VIVA Feat., Planet VIVA, US Top 20 etc. American movies are also more popular and more favored in Germany than any German productions, as is to be seen in the German moviecharts on www.kino.de for instance. German magazines and newspapers take over the American language and style as well. The usage of English in German magazines becomes particularly evident in youth magazines as Bravo, Yam, Sixteen, Sugar, Glamour, Brigitte Young Miss for instance, which not only have English titles, but also American style content: "Die Popstars-Gewinner präsentieren ihre erste Single "Sweetest Poison" - check hier den Clip und die Fotogalerie!" (Bravo), "Usher: Vom singenden Teenie zum Megastar! - Die komplette Story des Mr. Entertainment" (Yam), "Hot or Not: Golden Globes Die Outfits der Stars" (Glamour). However, not only these youth magazines are being invaded by the American lifestyle also more serious German magazines like Spiegel, Stern or Focus are increasing their usage of English words as is documented by Wenliang Yang in his book Anglizismen im Deutschen. Concerning public entertainment, the American influence on Germany is overwhelming as well. The whole media industry tries to market music, celebrities, movies, computer games, fashion, and lifestyle as profitable as possible, e.g. ringtones. "Denglish" The German Youth Language
The youth is a very big issue in our world today, since the youth is the world's largest consumer. Influenced more by the media than by their families or their experiences in school, German teenagers believe sentences as "Der Gong zum Break! Das dämliche Mathe ist endlich over. Völlig zugetextet macht sich die Posse auf in die Aula, um zehn Minuten zu chillen." (Focus Online) to be correct German. The German youth adapts the language used by the media, bringing them to anglicise their way of talking and living. Young boys and girls watch TV, listen to music, buy computer games, and read magazines; they are exposed to the English language everywhere, as explained earlier, the German media contains anglicisms and the American way of life in an overwhelming amount. To be "cool" and to fulfil the idealized picture given by the media, young German people try to adapt this style. They promote it to their friends and carry it on to their adulthood. This can be described as a vicious circle, since these adults are far less sensitive to anglicisms and the American culture, they will adapt even more to this and this will pass into the next generation of young people etc. Conclusion
In conclusion I would like to point out that Germany in the future will have to deal with this "threat" of anglicisms and globalization. "Germish" is the language of the future in Germany. Using anglicisms is regarding the process of globalization a normal thing, but it got far out of hand, since most people are not able to differ between real English and fake English, as for instance "handy" or "wellness" which are believed to be real English. At the moment, most Germans are not considering what problems the change from German to English can bring. That anglicisms are not a phenomenon, which will disappear in a while, is shown by the yearly published dictionaries of youth language. It should be much more of a current issue in Germany that many people cannot speak correct German or are incapable of using accurate grammar as shown by the recent PISA study. The problem of losing the German culture and language is a very current one that has to be solved. Many children growing up in Germany today do not even know, how many federal states Germany has, not to mention what their names are, but they can tell you when Independence Day, Halloween, or Thanksgiving are celebrated. This is a development that should be taken care of as soon as possible, since it is important to be aware of one's cultural identity. A further consideration Germany will have to face is our young boys and girls being the next generation of adults, who will pass their language on to their children. This process might lead to a degeneration of the German culture and help the development of one over-all identity. However, if politicians and parents become aware of this "threat" and help to prevent it, we might have germanisms in English sooner or later.
Bahr, Hans-Jürgen. "Umgeben von Anglizismen". Cartoon. 2002. 30 January 2005
Bravo.de. 26 January 2005
Deutsche Post. 2005. 15 January 2005
Die Deutschen zu Europa und Amerika. Ed. Roland Freudenstein and Viola Neu. April 2004. Konrad Adenauer Stiftung. 16 December 2004
Focus Online in Kooperation mit MSN. "Coole Kids mit krassen Sprüchen". Ed. Christoph Kasper. 19 January 2005
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. "Fernsehen: Das üben wir noch mal!". Ed. Stefan Niggemeier. 5 December 2004. 22 January 2005
Glamour.de. 26 January 2005
Hähnel, Jan. Personal interview. 18 December 2004.
KINO.DE. Entertainment Media Verlag GmbH & Co. oHG. 10 January 2004
McDonald's Deutschland. "Geschichte". 2004. 14 January 2005
McDonald's Deutschland. "Geschichte". 2004. 14 January 2005
Wikipedia: "Germish". 18 November 2004. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 19 November 2004
Wikipedia: "Globalization". 18 November 2004. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 19 November 2004
Wikipedia: "Types of Companies". 18 November 2004. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 19 November 2004
Yam.de. 26 January 2005
Yang, Wenliang. Anglizismen im Deutschen: Am Beispiel des Nachrichtenmagazins Der Spiegel. Tübingen, Ger.: Niemeyer, 1990.