Loan word

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A loan word is a word that has been adopted (borrowed) from the language (the donor or source language ) into the recipient language (target language). The encoder language does not necessarily have to be the original language, but can also be a mediating language (intermediary language) (for example in the case of cache ).

A word can be taken over several times, at different times and also from different mediating giver languages ​​into the recipient language and can then also appear in different meanings, sounds or spellings. The overarching process that leads to the formation of loanwords is called borrowing . Borrowing is an important factor in language change and is the subject of denomination theory ( onomasiology ).

Determining the origin of words is a matter of etymology ; Onomasiology and linguistic change research deal with the motives, reasons and triggers for borrowings - as well as with change of name in general.

Delimitation and loanwords in the broader sense

Loan word and inheritance word

The opposite term to loan word is hereditary word . One speaks of an hereditary word if the word comes from an older or the oldest reconstructable stage of development of the examined language. However, the use of the term depends on the period under investigation and requires adequate knowledge of the history of the word. So z. For example, a word like Pfalz (residential building of a medieval prince), which can be traced back from New High German via Middle High German to Old High German (phalanza, phalinza) , in contrast to Middle High German and New High German borrowings from other languages ​​appear as an hereditary word, although it dates from pre-High German times medieval Latin palantia (probably 7th century .; from Vulgar. palatia, which as Sing-conceived. Plur. of PALATIUM) has been adopted and to that extent the Germans no less a loan word is derived as the Latin from the same root, younger Gallicisms Palace (12th century .; from mhd. pallas, borrowed from old French paleis) or Palais (17th century; borrowed from new French ).

Loan word and foreign word

Types of borrowing according to Werner Betz (1959)

One speaks of a loan word in the narrower sense when the adopted word is adapted in its inflection , sound and spelling to the usage of the recipient language. The loanwords in the broader sense also include foreign words for which such an adaptation does not take place or to a lesser extent and the foreign origin of the word remains comparatively more clearly recognizable. The transition between loan words in the narrower sense and foreign words is fluid, a clear distinction is often not possible. A clear example, the doublet pair of monet and coin, would be characterized as a foreign word or loan word in the narrower sense, since they both go back to the same Latin word ( lexeme ), more precisely the plural monētae and singular monēta .

Loan coinage

In the case of a loan word in the narrower sense and a foreign word, the foreign word body with its meaning or part of this meaning is adopted. One speaks here of lexical borrowing. To be distinguished from this, even if it is often assigned to loan words in a broader sense, is the only semantic borrowing or loan coinage (French and English calque ), in which a meaning is taken from the donor language using the linguistic means of the recipient language, but without taking over the sound body , in the form of a loan meaning or loan formation.

Loan meaning

With a loan meaning , the meaning of a foreign word is adopted and transferred to a native word. The Gothic daupjan with the basic meaning 'to immerse , to submerge' got under the influence of the church-language Greek baptízein the meaning of 'to make someone a Christian by immersion' (i.e. 'to baptize'), and the German word 'to cut' received from the English idiom cut a person has the additional meaning 'on purpose not knowing someone'; see adoption of terms .

Loan formation

Loan formation is the formation of a new word using existing words or stems from the recipient language. The difference to the loan meaning is that when the loan is formed, a new word or a new word combination is created. A distinction is made between the following types of loan formation:

  • the loan translation , in which a mostly composed foreign word is translated limb for limb: Examples are grandfather (instead of southern German Ahn) to French grand-père, or floodlight to English flood light.
  • the loan transfer , in which the foreign components are only partially translated or with a change in meaning, e.g. B. Skyscrapers as in the foreground cloud metonymically shifted transmission of English skyscraper (literally 'sky scraper'), or telephone for telephone (literally 'Fern-Klang').
  • the Lehnschöpfung in which a word is formed without regard to specific shades of meaning of the foreign word relatively free again, usually replacing an existing foreign word, eg. B. College for university, motor vehicle for automobile, environment for milieu.

Sham loan (pseudo loan)

A special case is the sham loan, in which a word or foreign word is newly formed from components of the encoder language that does not exist in this encoder language itself or has a different meaning, e.g. B. “Hairdresser” (French coiffeur ), “Handy” (British mobile phone, American cell phone ) and “Smoking” (British dinner jacket, American tuxedo ). Insofar as foreign words already available in the recipient language are used, sham borrowings can also be classified as loan coins (loan creations).

Borrowings from German

German words that have been integrated into another language as a loan word or foreign word are called Germanisms . An extensive list of Germanisms can be found in the list of German words in other languages . Many Germanisms are represented in

  • Andrea Stiberc: Sauerkraut, Weltschmerz, Kindergarten and Co. German words in the world. Herder, Freiburg / Basel / Vienna 1999, ISBN 3-451-04701-2 .

In 2006, the German Language Council , in cooperation with the Society for the German Language and the Goethe Institute, collected the most interesting contributions from around the world in an international tender for "Emigrated Words". A selection is published in:

In 2007/2008, the Language Council, in cooperation with the Goethe Institute, collected "words with a migration background" for four months in order to find the most beautiful "immigrant word" in German. A selection of the submissions has been published in:

Loans in German

Many words found their way into the German language via other languages. One example is the “pistachio”, originally from Middle Persian (cf. mpers. Pstk, pronounced as pistag), which came into German through the teaching of Greek, Latin and finally Italian.

Notes: Many of the terms in this list are only indirect loanwords from the Greek, for
  • These are words that originally come from Greek, but then passed into another language and it has been proven that they were only borrowed from there into German;
  • In modern times, these are formations composed of Greek word material in modern languages, which have never existed in this form in Greek - even if some of them have now been taken back into the modern Greek language.
Note: The same restrictions apply as for Graecisms.

See also


In many studies, both loan and foreign words are dealt with. See therefore literature under foreign word and under the above-mentioned keywords Gallicism , Latinism etc.

Web links

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

Individual evidence

  1. See the keywords "Moneten" and "Münze" in Kluge. Etymological dictionary of the German language. Edited by Elmar Seebold. 24th, revised and expanded edition. De Gruyter, Berlin / New York 2002, ISBN 3-11-017473-1 .