Foreign word

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Foreign words are words that are either “newly formed if necessary” from ancient (“foreign”) word elements (especially Greek and Latin), borrowed from ancient written sources or recently taken over from other (living) languages in the course of language contact they - in contrast to a more integrated loan word - are less adapted to the target language in terms of loudness , stress, inflection , word formation or spelling.

Foreign words of the first group are often internationalisms that appear in several languages ​​at the same time in only slightly different forms that are adapted to the respective language.

In modern linguistics , the distinction between “foreign” and “loan words” is unusual because there are many cases of doubt. As in many other languages ​​- cf. French emprunts and engl. loanwords - is generally only spoken of " borrowings " or "loan words".

The Quantitative Linguistics modeled the process of acquisition of foreign loan words and using the language change law ( Piotrowski Act ). The borrowing happens, as is shown again and again, in the sense of certain laws. The same applies to the spectrum of foreign words, which gives an overview of how many words were taken from which languages.

Description of foreign words in German and their meaning


Latin loan and foreign words

Latin spread through loan words such as street , fruit , sickle , cook for the first time in the Germanic language area, when the Roman Empire between the 1st century BC. BC and the 6th century AD ruled large parts of Europe. The terms penetrated the German language before the second sound shift and were recorded and transformed by it (e.g. brick from tēgula , pepper from piper ).

Even after the collapse of the Roman Empire and after the second phonetic shift, Latin expressions, now more often perceived as foreign words (Latinisms), came into German:

  • at the time of Christianization (6th - 9th centuries, via church and monastery)
  • through the introduction of Roman law in the German Empire (end of the 15th century, files , family , conference , lawyer )
  • in the age of humanism ( addition , professor , second )
  • during the industrial revolution ( industry , locomotive , omnibus )

Latin has been the language of science since the end of antiquity . Greek only began to play a role again with the Renaissance .

Since the end of the Middle Ages

At the time when the large trading companies were established, commercial terms from Italian were naturalized in German-speaking countries ( account , balance ). Italian also shaped art ( torso , fresco ) and music ( forte , tempo designations such as andante ).

During the Baroque and Enlightenment periods , French was the language of the upper classes in Germany . The language purists Philipp von Zesen and Johann Heinrich Campe tried to counteract the increasing use of foreign words by cleverly interpreting them (e.g. distance [distance], address [address], moment [moment], comma], library [library], Horizon [horizon], passion [passion], dialect [dialect], spelling [orthography], ancient [ancient], conventional [conventional], ground floor [ground floor], course [course], rendezvous [rendezvous], actually [factual], Prediction [prophecy], chaos [chaos]).

Many such new creations were able to establish themselves in everyday German language , not least due to the nationalism of the 19th century . Post and train systematically Germanized words from their specialist areas (platform [platform]; envelope [envelope], registered mail [recommandé]). Other countries have gone even further with this (e.g. Turkey , where so many Arabic terms have been replaced by newly created Turkish ones that today's Turks no longer understand the Ottoman language ). Recent attempts at Germanization (nuance> shadowing) have not been very successful.

To this day, some of the German foreign words are of French origin. The flow of French expressions into German only dried up with the technical and industrial triumph of the USA , and since English had also begun to replace French as the language of diplomacy in the 20th century . Today the adoption of words from English predominates , especially the American one (meeting, computer).

Of the around 140,000 terms in today's Duden, around one in four has foreign-language roots. About 3.5 percent each come from English and French. About five to six percent each come from Latin and Greek. A continuous newspaper text, for example, reaches around 8 to 9 percent foreign words; if only nouns, adjectives and verbs are counted, the proportion rises to around 16 to 17 percent. In specialist texts with many technical terms , the proportion is usually much higher.

German words in other languages

German words are also adopted in other languages ​​and are then foreign words there.

  • in Bosnian / Croatian / Serbian (often influenced by Austrian pronunciation): auspuh '( exhaust ), tašna [ˈtaʃna] ( bag ); only at the Bosnian: paradajz ( Paradeiser = tomato ), šrafciger [ʃraftsɪga] ( screwdriver ), Vinkl ( angle )
  • In English : abseil, fear, approach, blitzkrieg, bratwurst, dachshund, doppelganger, ambition, miss wonder, thought experiment, health !, glockenspiel, hinterland, cavity, kindergarten, leitmotiv, nazi, poltergeist, putsch, backpack, sauerkraut, glee, stagnation , übermensch, wanderlust, weltschmerz, wunderkind, zeitgeist, zwieback, eigen- (as a prefix of several math./phys. specialist terms, e.g. eigenvalue or eigenenspace )
  • In French : bunker, leitmotiv, nouilles ( pasta ), worldview, die waldsterben
  • in Italian : hinterland, kindergarten, leitmotif, worldview, sausage
  • In Japanese : ア ル バ イ ト, pronounced: arubaito ( student job , from work ), カ ル テ, pronounced: karute ( index cards in medicine ), バ ウ ム ク ー ヘ ン, pronounced: baumukūhen ( tree cake ), ゲ レ ン デ, pronounced: gerende ( ski area )
  • in Dutch : Blickkaart, anyway, at all
  • in Polish : bukmacher ( bookmaker ) → zakład bukmacherski ( betting shop ), brytfanka ( casserole , from frying pan ), durszlak ( sieve , from punching through ), fajerwerk ( fireworks ), gwałt ( rape , from violence ), kształt ( shape, form ), Kubel ( bucket ) or western Polish: kibel ( toilet , from pail ) szlafmyca ( nightcap ) sznur ( string ), szwagier / ka ( brother / sister ), warsztat ( workshop ), wihajster ( you know .. , by means How he ) ...

Linguistic research has shown that up to 2500 words in the Polish language could have an origin in German or Middle High German words. A list of all loanwords known to date can be found on the University of Oldenburg's homepage.

  • in Russian : buterbrod ( bread and butter , here generally indicative of a sandwich ), ajsberg ( iceberg ), landscape, turnpike, zejtnot ( time constraint), galstuk ( scarf , but here generally denoting a tie ), waltorna ( French horn )
  • In Spanish : foot, place, seat (dog commands), children ( kindergarten in Latin America, reached Spanish via English), cake (in Chile), leitmotif, worldview
  • in Swahili : shule
  • in Czech : švagr [ʃvagr] ( journeyman )

International search "word walk"

In the summer of 2006, more than 1,600 people from 57 countries collected “emigrated words” with personal experiences and explanations of shifts in meaning in other languages ​​for a call for tenders entitled “Hike in Words”. The German Language Council has now published some results.

In England, for example, the German “ hinterland ” stands for the area behind a cargo ship port, in Italy for the densely populated area around Milan and in Australia for areas that are at a greater distance from the coast, but in contrast to the vast inland areas ("Outback").

The Danish “habengut” for things that you own and can carry with you came with German journeymen. A participant from Switzerland reported about “drawer”, derived from “drawer”, in the French-speaking part of Switzerland in the sense of putting to the files, putting on the back burner or not wanting to deal with it. In the English language for young people, the word “uber” - “over” without umlaut - has emerged as a form of “super” or “mega”. The German word “Zeitgeist” is even used there as an adjective “zeitgeisty”. In Italy, according to one sender, the word “Realpolitik” spread during the time of the Iron Curtain, associated with Willy Brandt, and now increasingly understood as “true, meaningful, realistic politics”.

Most of the mailings mentioned words that had emigrated into English, Russian, Hungarian and Polish. Vietnamese, Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, Persian, Hebrew, Brazilian, Spanish, Finnish, Estonian, Afrikaans, Swahili, Wolof and Kirundi also occur.

The front runner is still the French “vasistas” for “skylight” or “tilting window”, derived from the German “What is that?”. In second place is the “kindergarten”, which is used in English, French, Spanish and Japanese, followed by the Russian “butterbrot”, which describes a sandwich, but also without butter, and the word “kaputt” in English, Spanish , French and Russian.

Foreign words as remnants of former national languages

When a foreign nation imposes its culture on an area so extensively that its language begins to dominate within it, the remaining local expressions take on the character of foreign words. Examples in American are toboggan ( slide ) and canoe from Indian or adobe (clay bricks dried in the sun), lasso , sierra , desperado from the time of the Spanish colonization.

See also


  • Theodor W. Adorno : Words from abroad. In: Notes on Literature (Part 2). Library Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1959, ISBN 3-518-01071-9 .
  • Balnat, Vincent & Barbara Kaltz : Language criticism and language maintenance in the early 20th century: Attitudes to "foreign words" and "short words". In: Bulletin of the Henry Sweet Society for the History of Linguistic Ideas 49, 2007, pp. 27-37.
  • Karl-Heinz Best : Where do the German foreign words come from? In: Göttinger Contributions to Linguistics 5, 2001, 7–20.
  • Karl-Heinz Best: A contribution to the discussion of foreign words . In: The German language in the present. Festschrift for Dieter Cherubim for his 60th birthday . Edited by Stefan J. Schierholz in collaboration with Eilika Fobbe, Stefan Goes and Rainer Knirsch. Lang, Frankfurt a. a. 2001, pp. 263-270, ISBN 3-631-37009-1 .
  • Karl-Heinz Best: Quantitative Linguistics. An approximation. 3rd, heavily revised and expanded edition. Peust & Gutschmidt, Göttingen 2006, ISBN 978-3-933043-17-7 .
  • Karl-Heinz Best, Emmerich Kelih (Ed.): Borrowings and foreign words: Quantitative aspects. RAM-Verlag, Lüdenscheid 2014, ISBN 978-3-942303-23-1 .
  • Duden : The great foreign dictionary. Origin and meaning of the foreign words. 4th edition. Dudenverlag 2007, ISBN 3-411-04164-1 .
  • Peter Eisenberg : The foreign word in German. de Gruyter, Berlin and New York 2011, ISBN 978-3-11-023564-7 ; E-book ISBN 978-3-11-023565-4 .
  • Helle Körner: On the development of the German (loan) vocabulary. In: Glottometrics 7, 2004, pp. 25-49 (PDF full text ).
  • Jutta Limbach : Emigrated words. Hueber, Ismaning 2007, ISBN 3-19-107891-6 .
  • Peter von Polenz : German Language History from the Late Middle Ages to the Present, Volume I: Introduction, Basic Concepts, 14th to 16th Century , de Gruyter, Berlin and New York 1991 (2nd revised and supplemented edition 2000.), ISBN 3-11 -016478-7 .
  • Peter von Polenz: German Language History from the Late Middle Ages to the Present, Volume II: 17th and 18th centuries , de Gruyter, Berlin and New York 1994, ISBN 3-11-014608-8 .
  • Ludwig Reiners : Art of Style. A textbook of German prose. Beck, Munich 1991, ISBN 978-3-406-34985-0 .
  • Andrea Stiberc: Sauerkraut, Weltschmerz, Kindergarten and Co. German words in the world. Herder, Freiburg / Basel / Vienna 1999, ISBN 3-451-04701-2 .
  • Katharina Ternes: Developments in German vocabulary. In: Glottometrics 21, 2011, pp. 25–53 (PDF full text ).
  • Reinhard von Normann: The appropriate foreign word. Dictionary German – foreign. Over 30,000 keywords. Eichborn-Verlag, 1998, ISBN 978-3-8218-1262-5 .
  • Dieter E. Zimmer : German and different - the language in modernization fever. Rowohlt, Reinbek near Hamburg 1998, ISBN 3-499-60525-2 .

Web links

Wiktionary: Foreign word  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Metzler Lexicon Language . Edited by Helmut Glück . 2., ext. Edition. Metzler, Stuttgart / Weimar 2000.
  2. ^ Metzler Lexicon Language. 2., ext. Edition.
  3. ^ Karl-Heinz Best: The spectrum of foreign words in Turkish . In: Glottometrics 17, 2008, pp. 8–11 (PDF full text ); Karl-Heinz Best: On the spectrum of foreign words in Japanese. In: Glottotheory 3/1 , 2010, pp. 5-8.
  4. Harald Wiese : A journey through time to the origins of our language. Logos, Berlin 2010, pp. 37–38.
  5. Jürgen Kuri, Uta Knapp, dpa: Accusation “ridiculous show-off Anglicisms”: Duden named “Sprachpanscher”. September 2, 2013, accessed on September 13, 2013 (statement by Duden editor-in-chief Werner Scholze-Stubenrecht).
  6. ^ The foreign word - something worth reading and interesting. (PDF; 1.6 MB) (No longer available online.) In: Duden - The foreign dictionary. Duden-Redaktion, 2010, p. 22 , archived from the original on July 12, 2017 ; Retrieved September 13, 2013 . Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  7. see in more detail: Karl-Heinz Best: Deutsche Borlehnungen im Englischen. In: Glottometrics, Issue 13, 2006, pages 66–72 (PDF full text )
  8. cf. Limbach 2007
  9. ^ André Maurois : The history of America. Rascher, Zurich 1947, pp. 23, 27, 37.