The Dominance of English.

Jacob Mikanowski’s long article “Behemoth, bully, thief: how the English language is taking over the planet” makes lots of points, some purely rhetorical (“There is no reason for any particular language to be worshipped around the world like a golden idol”) and some of more particularity, like Anna Wierzbicka’s description of English’s subconscious system of values. It’s well worth reading for its enjoyable combination of simmering outrage and interesting information; I’m going to single out this passage, which both surprised and shocked me:

Yet the influence of English now goes beyond simple lexical borrowing or literary influence. Researchers at the IULM University in Milan have noticed that, in the past 50 years, Italian syntax has shifted towards patterns that mimic English models, for instance in the use of possessives instead of reflexives to indicate body parts and the frequency with which adjectives are placed before nouns. German is also increasingly adopting English grammatical forms, while in Swedish its influence has been changing the rules governing word formation and phonology.

It’s bad enough that languages are dying right and left, but the ones that are left shouldn’t be deformed to resemble the hegemonic language that Mikanowski compares to a supermassive black hole! (Thanks, Trevor and Eric.)

Comments

  1. Stu Clayton says:

    In Germany it’s one PT (Peeve Trigger) after another. Only yesterday I was again fuming in front of the TV as several ad spots for fast food showed people saying ich bin hungrig, bist du hungrig? and so on.

    What happened to ich habe Hunger ? Except on tv most people still say that, as everybody did 50 years ago. Of course hungrig is a perfectly ok word but not used that way !!!

    These media people, I tell you. They want to signal international flair by mimicking English idioms. The failing fake flair media.

  2. Stephen Carlson says:

    Areal features are long known in linguistics. It’s like with English, the whole globe is the area where such effects are found.

  3. David Eddyshaw says:

    I was annoyed (inevitably) by the fact that the author picks Swahili as the token African “supercentral” language. Frankly, nobody really knows, but I strongly suspect that Hausa has more speakers overall, and it pretty certainly has more L1 speakers. An awful lot of this article is handwaving.

  4. I agree with David. I’m not the first to notice it, but the quote from Xiaolu Guo just burns with “tell the foreigner what he likes to hear.”

    ‘The Chinese writer Xiaolu Guo described something similar in her recent memoir, writing about how uncomfortable she felt, at first, with the way the English language encouraged speakers to use the first-person singular, rather than plural. “After all, how could someone who had grown up in a collective society get used to using the first-person singular all the time? … But here, in this foreign country, I had to build a world as a first-person singular – urgently.”‘

    Arrant nonsense. Chinese are perfectly comfortable talking about themselves in the first person as well as with addressing people as groups. A brief glance at a word frequency list (wiktionary) for Chinese puts 我 in 5th place and the nearest plural (我们) in 16th. Even if I accept 人 into the argument, it’s still in 12th and many if not most of its use cases are singular. In English, “we” hits 29, but “you” and “me” are in the top ten: how many of those count into the plural construction “you and me,” which Chinese counts under “我们“?

  5. SFReader says:

    The linguist Nicholas Evans has described how Kayardild, a language spoken in northern Australia, requires a speaker to continually orient themselves according to the cardinal directions. Where an English speaker would orient things according to their own perception – my left, my right, my front, my back – a speaker of Kayardild thinks in terms of north, south, east and west. As a consequence, speakers of Kayardild (and those of several other languages that share this feature) possess “absolute reckoning”, or a kind of “perfect pitch” for direction.

    Same thing exists in Irish.

    It’s a pity that Irish is known less than languages of remote northern Australia…

  6. Just a couple of weeks ago there was a low-level disagreement at the company where I work on whether Beste Grüße (a calque on “best regards”) is acceptable or an abomination before the Lord.

  7. David Eddyshaw says:

    Kayardild is actually pretty typical of Australian languages in general in that respect.
    (We discussed this before, in the context of wondering how you say “left-handed” in such languages.)

  8. Italian syntax has shifted … German is also increasingly adopting … Swedish … has been changing …

    Aren’t us ‘happiness boys’ supposed to be completely down with linguistic change?

    Aren’t languages (Italian, German, Swedish, Swahili, whatever) going to change anyway? How could anybody prove the change is entirely due to English language parallels, as opposed to endogenous development?

    Brit English peevers complain about ‘Americanisms’. Isn’t this just some other variety of peeving?

  9. David Marjanović says:

    Hungrig is a literary word that has been preferred in literature since forever (well, Luther might have preferred mich hungert, I haven’t checked). I don’t think I’ve ever heard it spoken. Same with durstig (where Luther did use mich dürstet).

    German is also increasingly adopting English grammatical forms

    From that article:

    (Of course the word “Grexit” was also in the air; the Germans have jokingly coined their own, Graustritt, but do not use it.)

    It’s not used (I didn’t even know it) because the joke is too obvious: it’s a pun on Graus “abomination”, mich packte das kalte Grausen “I got really scared in a very literary way”, mir graust “I’m disgusted”.

    In English, something “makes sense”. For Germans, though, “es hat Sinn” (it has sense) or “es ist sinnvoll” (it’s sensible).

    There’s more complexity to this.

    Apparently, macht Sinn is native somewhere in northern Germany – just one more thing where the isogloss runs between Low and High German instead of through the sea. Its spread can most likely attributed to English, though.

    I’m not used to es hat Sinn in the positive either – and the negative, das hat keinen Sinn, doesn’t mean “that doesn’t make sense”, but “it’s no use, there’s no point in trying”. What I’m used to for “it makes sense” is es ergibt Sinn, literally “it results in sense”.

    And even that isn’t used the way you’d say “Makes sense.” in a conversation. That sentiment is expressed in such ways as klingt logisch, “sounds logical”.

    the idea that making sense is something they would have to borrow from the English might give a traditionalist the shivers.

    Oh, it does! It drives the prescriptivists crazy (the mentioned Bastian Sick [ziːk] first & foremost). Invariably, they miss all of the complexity, though.

    The influence of business English is noticeable elsewhere. People working in multilingual offices will find themselves saying “I’ll call you back”. In German, that would normally be ich rufe Sie wieder an. But the word-for-word English loan-translation is gaining ground: more Germans are saying ich rufe Sie zurück.

    Well, ich rufe (Sie) wieder an means “I’ll call again” (at some point, for some reason), not specifically “I’ll call back” (at a predictable time, in response to the conversation we just had).

    Bastian Sick, a former language columnist for Der Spiegel, listed many more in a piece titled Ich erinnere das nicht, “I don’t remember.” The title is both the problem itself and an example of it: increasingly, Germans do not remember that “to remember”, sich erinnern, is a reflexive form and so should be Ich erinnere mich nicht daran.

    Most likely, this is just a recency illusion on Sick’s part; I’m not aware of any evidence that it’s spreading, and the counterclaim that it’s been native somewhere down north since ever is supported by a parallel I’ve noticed. Here in Berlin, I often see the written claim that some problem geht uns alle an. That’s flat-out ungrammatical for me – geht uns alle etwas an is the only option –, and yet, no English model is in sight. It’s hard to even translate into halfway idiomatic English: …”ought to concern us all”, “ought to matter to all of us”, “affects us all”, “is the responsibility of us all”…? :-S

    Old Saxon, like Old English, lacked reflexive pronouns altogether. Middle Low German reintroduced sik, but apparently that didn’t go as far as it could have.

    Another example is using Ich denke… to introduce an opinion, something that would traditionally come after Ich meine…

    I wouldn’t say that either, I say ich glaube – even though thinking and believing aren’t conflated anywhere else in the language. Still, in writing, ich denke doesn’t feel newfangled to me at all. So, maybe English influence has increased its geographic spread, but there’s no reason to think it’s simply a loan altogether.

    When discussing things that happened in a given year, Germans traditionally just mention the year, shorn of any adornment. But they are starting to use “in 2015”, English-style.

    That does seem to be new; in any case, it strikes me every time.

    The native heruntergeladen fights a rearguard battle.

    Microsoft hasn’t noticed it existed, so that may be a chicken-and-egg problem. It has, however, the advantage that it can be further calqued into Austrian dialects (by exchanging herunter– for something related to herab-), so my impression is it’s the most common form in Austria. That said, I once heard downg’loaden in Viennese mesolect.

    English, after all, is a Germanic language with a lot of French in it, not only in vocabulary but also grammar.

    Latin grammar, yes, but French?

    Back to the article quoted in the OP:

    “I would inevitably talk to babies and animals in Welsh,” reports a Welsh-speaker.

    The use of one’s native language is almost universal in such situations, but not quite: I don’t talk to cats at all; I haven’t had much opportunity to interact with dogs, but have stayed silent so far; I talked to my siblings when they were babies, but otherwise I tend not to switch my vocal cords on around babies either.

    Same thing exists in Irish.

    Wait. What? Like “look, there’s an ant on your eastern foot”?

    However, the exclusive use of absolute directions (with a word for “the left hand” but not for “left”) is widespread in Australia and also occurs in South America; I’m not sure if I’m remembering Africa right or confusing that with the similarly widespread concept that the past is in front of you because you can see it, while the future comes at you from behind.

  10. David Marjanović says:

    Aren’t languages (Italian, German, Swedish, Swahili, whatever) going to change anyway? How could anybody prove the change is entirely due to English language parallels, as opposed to endogenous development?

    Well, “prove”… Evidence can certainly be brought to bear on this question. For example, if a supposed Anglicism can be shown to have been present before English influence began, it can’t be a loan from English. It might still have spread by English influence, but that, too, is testable if the available data are good enough.

    In the long comment that disappeared when I edited it the second time (there was no link in it), I forgot to mention the book Sick of Sick, which was written by a bunch of linguists (in German except for the self-illustrating title) about the prescriptivist claims of Bastian Sick, many of which concern supposed anglicisms.

  11. It’s bad enough that languages are dying right and left, but the ones that are left shouldn’t be deformed to resemble the hegemonic language that Mikanowski compares to a supermassive black hole!

    I’m a bit surprised to see you take this position when elsewhere on this blog you heap scorn on the attempts of the Académie française and its equivalents (in Iceland, Iran, etc.) to keep their languages from ‘deforming’ to resemble English. Has your position on language planning changed? Or do you think that the global hegemony of English and its pernicious effects as detailed in the article are something to be lamented but nevertheless not resisted?

  12. Bathrobe says:

    Ken Hyland, a prominent academic in the field of English for academic purposes, notes in his paper Sympathy for the devil? A defence of EAP that “Among the more critical [perspectives on EAP] are that it is complicit in the relentless expansion of English which threatens indigenous academic registers” (as discussed by authors like A. Suresh Canagarajah in Resisting Linguistic Imperialism in English Teaching (OUP 1999) and Robert Phillipson Linguistic Imperialism (OUP 1992)).

    I’m curious as to how much English academic registers have influenced academic registers in languages around the world. I do know that English journalistic style has had a big impact on Japanese journalistic style in the space of less than 30-40 years. The stuff I used to read in the 1980s is quite unlike what you read in Japanese newspapers/Internet articles nowadays.

  13. David Marjanović says:

    In academic registers the influence does seem to go both ways, but I haven’t yet found a clearer example of foreign influence on academic English than the yeast artificial chromosome.

  14. Jonathan Wright says:

    There’s an interesting paper by Jaroslav Stetkevych that details similar influences in Modern Standard Arabic (MSA), starting in the late 19th century. Many of these have been so internalised that few users of MSA are even aware of them. It’s in his book The Modern Arabic Literary Language (http://press.georgetown.edu/book/languages/modern-arabic-literary-language)

  15. SFReader says:

    Lazy translators cause language change

  16. An awful lot of this article is handwaving.

    Yes, that’s pretty much inevitable in such pieces, I’m afraid.

    I’m a bit surprised to see you take this position when elsewhere on this blog you heap scorn on the attempts of the Académie française and its equivalents (in Iceland, Iran, etc.) to keep their languages from ‘deforming’ to resemble English. Has your position on language planning changed? Or do you think that the global hegemony of English and its pernicious effects as detailed in the article are something to be lamented but nevertheless not resisted?

    There’s no contradiction at all. I deplore attempts by official bodies to constrain language in any way, whether it’s resisting borrowed words or imposing particular forms to avoid the horror of free choice. This has nothing to do with what we’re talking about here, which is the infiltration of English grammatical structures into languages to which they were alien. Yes, it’s “something to be lamented but nevertheless not resisted,” because the very idea of resisting it (on anything other than an individual, and thus ineffectual, basis) is absurd, like telling the tide to stop coming in. This is something peevers are unable to grasp.

  17. This has nothing to do with what we’re talking about here, which is the infiltration of English grammatical structures into languages to which they were alien.

    So the infiltration of English lexemes into languages to which they were alien is fine, but not grammatical structures or syntax? Isn’t that arbitrary? Or would you be similarly opposed to a German language academy saying that “ich habe Hunger” is preferred over “ich bin hungrig”?

    the very idea of resisting it (on anything other than an individual, and thus ineffectual, basis) is absurd, like telling the tide to stop coming in.

    Actually your metaphor is perfect. Resisting the dominance of English on an individual level is as absurd as one person trying to stop a tidal wave from destroying her town. But on a collective level, it can be resisted, just as a government can collect taxes and mobilize thousands of people to build levees and protect a town from drowning. There’s plenty of evidence to show that indigenous languages of the Americas which have funding and promotion from the state are facing down the onslaught of English/Spanish much better than those that don’t. In Iran, thanks to an active language academy, educated people speak and write Persian incomparably better than their equivalents in India, the latter of whom will inevitably find topics they’re more comfortable speaking about in English than in local languages.

  18. Christian Weisgerber says:

    Whenever I read such peeving about the influence of English, I wish somebody would sit down and write a piece about the way Latin has “deformed” European languages over the course of the Middle Ages. Of course, that is typically presented as a good thing. For German peevers, loans from Latin, Greek or French are educated and have enriched the language. It is only modern English loans that are illiterate and debase the language. It is also fashionable now to blame any language change on supposed English influence.

    Peeving about particular expressions in German that might be calqued from English is turned into the far-reaching claim that “German is also increasingly adopting English grammatical forms” and is then cited in an article about how English is taking over the planet.

  19. So the infiltration of English lexemes into languages to which they were alien is fine, but not grammatical structures or syntax?

    I didn’t say it was “fine,” I have frequently said it’s natural and inevitable and it’s silly to complain about it, which is not quite the same. But as a matter of fact I do think it’s fine, in that it’s arbitrary which collection of phonemes is used to express a certain concept and the origin of a particular such collection is irrelevant to the coherence of the language as a whole. The English word cheese is from Latin, but nobody would think to complain about that because nobody who hasn’t studied etymology has any clue about it; it feels perfectly English. Borrowed words get assimilated.

    Change in grammatical structures is of a different order; it affects the language as a whole and if thoroughgoing enough can change the very sense of using the language. There is equally no point in resisting it if that’s how people choose to speak, but I don’t think it’s fine, not that my opinion matters in the least.

    There’s plenty of evidence to show that indigenous languages of the Americas which have funding and promotion from the state are facing down the onslaught of English/Spanish much better than those that don’t.

    Yes, but this has nothing to do with resisting change as such, it’s a matter of providing support for the language people actually use. To the extent that such support is combined with authoritarian decrees about how they should use their own language, it’s deplorable, as deplorable as religious groups forcing the indigent to pray or perform other religious “duties” before getting the food or other support they need.

  20. For German peevers, loans from Latin, Greek or French are educated and have enriched the language. It is only modern English loans that are illiterate and debase the language.

    You too are conflating lexical loans with change in grammatical structures.

  21. Change in grammatical structures is of a different order; it affects the language as a whole and if thoroughgoing enough can change the very sense of using the language.

    It’s silly to create these arbitrary divisions. Lexical change affects the language as a whole as well and can absolutely change the very sense of using the language. If you ask the average speaker of X language to tell you how English has affected the way people use the language, they might be able to tell you that (if they’re old enough to have noticed changes), but they probably couldn’t tell you what the differences between grammar, syntax, and lexicon are. Language functions holistically; an English loanword need not be restricted to change in the lexicon, as it can introduce new phonology, or perhaps a syntactic change (being used in the sentence the way it would be in English), etc.

    authoritarian decrees about how they should use their own language

    You see language planning as restricting choice, but in no country that I’m aware of do they actively punish people for ignoring the suggestions of the academy. They offer guidance, and by introducing new words, people actually have more choice: to use words built on morphemes intelligible to native speakers, or to use English loanwords. Sometimes the suggestions catch on, sometimes they don’t. But creating new words to meet new needs helps people feel that their language is relevant and vibrant, which keeps young people from abandoning it altogether. I suppose you think the FDA’s recommendations about how many fruits and vegetables to eat in a day as similarly “authoritarian decrees”.

  22. For an argument that Iran’s language academy, the Farhangestan, enriched Persian vocabulary by adding new words, see Ludwig Paul’s scholarly article “Iranian Language Reform in the Twentieth Century: Did the First Farhangestān (1935-40) Succeed?”
    http://booksandjournals.brillonline.com/content/journals/10.1163/187471610×505960

  23. Lars (the original one) says:

    Isn’t the whole Balkan Sprachbund thing (for instance) an example of pervasive grammatical changes due to the influence of other languages? Of course that wasn’t a global thing, nor as one-way as the situation with English now, but still I don’t get the impression that the individual languages feel less ‘whole’ even though a linguist can see the diminished variety among them.

  24. Change in grammatical structures is of a different order; it affects the language as a whole and if thoroughgoing enough can change the very sense of using the language.

    Well, yes; much of the syntax of Burmese is now basically Pali, and everything to do with the present participle in Russian comes straight from OCS (which is probably why it’s not used in mat’, unlike all the English obscenities in -ing). But I’m surprised you find things like this disturbing. The popularity of accusative-with-infinitive in English (“I asked him to go to the store for me”) is certainly due to Latin influence, let the generativists deny it as they may, and it bothers nobody.

    De te fabula narratur on this blog: can you elucidate why grammatical influences seem so unpleasant?

  25. marie-lucie says:

    I commented on this very topic several times in the last few years. People think that adopting foreign words is the problem, while adopting alien syntax is much more of a problem.

    SFR: Lazy translators cause language change

    Translators who work for the press usually have to work very fast and don’t have the time to double check, plus they read so much of English-language media that their own syntax becomes distorted. Literary translators hopefully are good enough writers in their own language that they search for the best equivalents rather than the fastest ones. There is also the “Google” or “Bingo” automatic translations which tend to be word for word even though the source and target languages do not have the same word order, or use more words or fewer for the same basic sentence.

    Another case is that of many missionary translations: eager to translate as soon as possible, many missionaries produced translations which reflect their own syntax rather than that of the target languages. But the locals usually accepted these translations as “the word of God”, which should not be identical with the everyday speech of ordinary mortals.

    AntC: Aren’t languages (Italian, German, Swedish, Swahili, whatever) going to change anyway? How could anybody prove the change is entirely due to English language parallels, as opposed to endogenous development?

    The history of languages shows that the same changes (especially phonetic ones) can occur in several languages (related or not) at different times or under slightly different conditions, without these changes being attributable to foreign influences. Common examples are nasalization or denasalization of vowels, loss or reinforcement of final consonants, and a number of others. Some phonetic changes can be linked to morphological or syntactic ones within the same language, and vice-versa, as the various parts of a language influence each other. But here we are considering syntactic changes apparently unrelated to any possible conditioning factors in the same language or a closely related one, but consisting of structures typical of another language, and occurring about the same time in several languages which may not themselves be related and are likely to be influenced by the same other language, as in the case with English structures popping up in a variety of other languages.

    Here is a case in French.

    In English you can say: I spoke to the father and the mother, or to the mother and the father
    You do not need to repeat “to”, which is assumed to apply to the phrase “the father and the mother”, in either word order.
    In (traditional Standard) French, you cannot do this, you have to repeat the preposition as well as the article. Furthermore, with masculine nouns and articles, some prepositions such as à are fused with the article, therefore: J’ai parlé à la mère et au père, or J’ai parlé au père et à la mère.
    But try to translate one of the English sentences more or less word for word: you get J’ai parlé à la mère et le père, or J’ai parlé au père et la mère or >, something you see more and more in newspaper articles. When I see such sentences, my intuition is to expect the second noun phrase to start a new sentence, since there is nothing to link it to the previous preposition, so for instance J’ai parlé à la mère, (,) et le père m’a téléphoné le lendemain ‘I spoke to the mother, and the father phoned me the next day’. I don’t see that this restructuring improves the French language in any way!

  26. But I’m surprised you find things like this disturbing.

    I am a barge, I contain multitudes.

  27. marie-lucie says:

    Sorry, I took too long to do corrections. the last para should have: J’ai parlé à la mère et le père ….

  28. marie-lucie says:

    LH: But I’m surprised you find things like this disturbing.

    You don’t find this disturbing because this is not your language and you are used to not repeating the preposition.

    I find it disturbing because it makes it difficult to decide what is the role of the second noun phrase (article + noun), so your have to stop and think, even briefly, something that interrupts your train of thought.

  29. You don’t find this disturbing because this is not your language and you are used to not repeating the preposition.

    That wasn’t me, that was JC.

  30. Athel Cornish-Bowden says:

    J’ai parlé à la mère et au père, or J’ai parlé au père et à la mère

    And sometimes you need à in other places where in English we feel it unnecessary. The geniuses who administer our campus decided a one-way system was needed in a zone where allowing two-way traffic had never produced any problems. A consequence of doing this without giving the matter sufficient thought is that we now have a Sortie sign pointing directly at a No Entry sign about a metre away from it. I took a photo of this and stuck it up on a door, with the question Laquelle des deux on doit obéir ? written over it. Someone then wrote a very large and heavily underlined A in front of the question. Missing the point, I thought.

  31. Graham Asher says:

    The article’s rhetoric is absurd. “From inauspicious beginnings on the edge of a minor European archipelago…” Can the author name some major European archipelagos for comparison? The Lofoten Islands, perhaps, or the Dodecanese?

    It’s hard to read any further after that.

  32. David Eddyshaw says:

    He’s got himself into rather a muddle with his geography. It’s the archipelago that’s on the edge (well, an archipelago would look pretty silly in the middle of the continent…)
    Last I checked, the English language was spoken pretty centrally in the archipelago; it’s on the edges here that we still cling to our pre-invasion languages.

    It conjures up the ghost of a wonderful alternate universe where Welsh has become all-pervasive, and languages throughout the world are turning to VSO word order as a consequence.

  33. J.W. Brewer says:

    The same language is named Swahili at one point in the article yet Kiswahili at a later point in the article. Perhaps a copy-editing glitch of the sort that has made the Grauniad legendary, but also perhaps an indication that the author doesn’t actually know anything about any of the languages (other than Polish) he purports to be trying to defend against English?

    If English is changing German syntactic patterns it must be because until recently English had different syntactic patterns than German. But how did that happen, given that they descend from a common ancestor? Modern English has changed more dramatically from Old English than modern “official” standard Hochdeutsch from its ancestor of the same vintage. Was English just innovative for the sake of innovation? Or had it been more vulnerable to grammatical influence/distortion from French or Latin or a Brythonic substrate or what have you?

  34. I am bothered by statements used as questions. For example, “This is an english sentence?”. I don’t like them in my L1 AmE and they bother me more in my spanish lessons, especially when there is no punctuation. To bring this back on topic, which way is this trend moving? En to es or es to en? Is it happening in other European languages?

  35. Christian Weisgerber says:

    a minor European archipelago

    It’s a minor archipelago that happens to be in Europe, not a minor one out of the European archipelagos. Potentially ambiguous, but I don’t see anything wrong with this.

    languages throughout the world are turning to VSO word order as a consequence

    You can observe this in German, which famously has strict V2 syntax in main clauses. However, colloquial German is full of verb-initial sentences. “Kann nicht sein!” you say… oops. These are obviously elliptic, with an initial “das” or “es” elided, but at some point a syntactic reanalysis might happen. Clearly the all-pervasive Welsh language is changing German syntactic patterns. What other explanation could there be?

    You can bet that people would call this out as an influence of English if only it were a conspicuous feature of that language.

    More generally it seems to be a hard problem to determine whether language change is due to external contact or internal developments. See the lack of consensus around how much of the development of English is internal vs. Norse vs. Celtic; or how much of the development of French is internal vs. Celtic vs. Frankish.

  36. a minor European archipelago

    Minor in influence, perhaps, rather than in size. “The English tongue is of small reach, stretching no further than this island of ours, nay not there over all.” —Richard Mulcaster (1582)

    Or had it been more vulnerable to grammatical influence/distortion from French or Latin or a Brythonic substrate or what have you?

    Clearly yes. However, there has been innovation in the center of Germanic as well: only the peripheral varieties (Middle) English, Icelandic, and Yiddish have V2 order in subordinate clauses as well as main clauses.

    a wonderful alternate universe

    In Ill Bethisad, the Romano-Welsh were able to resist rather better, and so the three kingdoms (four, before Ireland ceased to be under Cambrian rule) are only Federated rather than United. Consequently, Kemrese is the most common language in the (now de facto independent) American provinces of Ter Mair (named after the Virgin not the Queen, who didn’t exist, as the Tudurs were kingmakers in Cambria rather than kings) and Castreleon New, though of course the city of Nieuw Amsterdam is as polyglot there as here. Nevertheless, English is probably the most useful language for a Covenanter to learn: of the 27 General Moderators of the North American League (1804–), only Tomos Gwrthiern ffeil Gwilim (1917-1921) was of Kemrese descent.

    How the federation works: “The Kemrese parliament sends representatives to attend the English and Scottish parliaments as full voting members, as well as receiving them from the other two legislatures. Moreover King Pedr and Queen Diana I of England and Scotland maintain a tradition of exchanging Privy Councillors. As in the eyes of the law the Cabinet is a committee of the Privy Council, there are invariably Cabinet members in each Kingdom who are M.P.s from the other Kingdoms. A detailed system of Committees of Correspondence maintain uniformity in matters of external defense, and formerly in matters of the overseas possessions as well.”

  37. David Marjanović says:

    My long comment has disappeared, then?

  38. My short comment vanished also, but I repeated its substance in the beginning of my last comment above.

  39. The English tongue is of small reach, stretching no further than this island of ours, nay not there over all.

    Amusingly in the context of this discussion, the syntax here shows a pronounced classical influence.

  40. J.W. Brewer says:

    So on the one hand, the “perform a song in Vorarlberg dialect” competition ought to help resist this trend, but on the other it’s interesting to find a song in that competition where both the group name (“Sixpack”) and song name (“Indiana”) are taken straight from American English (with the lyrical theme touching on a certain romanticization of a certain notion of Amerika that many Teutonophones have been suckers for since the 19th century): https://vorarlberg.orf.at/radio/stories/2905187/

  41. Bathrobe says:

    If every spamming server were to mysteriously blow up tomorrow, and every spammer lined up against the wall and shot, would the world be a better place?

    (The above because long comments are not making it through due to the contortions needed to combat spammers.)

  42. What I don’t get is why they’re not winding up in the moderation queue. It’s annoying enough when that happens, but at least I can restore them to the thread. This vanishing act is infuriating.

  43. Bathrobe says:

    European languages caused huge changes in languages all around the world in the 19th-early 20th centuries. These included the adoption of new grammatical locutions, vocabulary (not just borrowing), etc. When a Japanese writes 報道におけるタブー hōdō ni okeru tabū ‘taboos in reporting’, I am fairly sure that this represents the use of a kanbun-style structure used to translate Chinese amplified into prominence by translations of English postnominal prepositional phrases (as here, ‘taboo + in reporting’). The spread of pronoun use in Japanese is another result of influence from European languages. The adoption of heavy pre-nominal modifiers in Chinese to translate relative clauses in European languages is another example. This was not a part of either Classical Chinese or baihua.

  44. Interesting! I guess I’m falling prey to presentism. Obviously there’s nothing catastrophic in grammatical structures being influenced, but it does seem to me worse somehow than vocabulary.

  45. Bathrobe says:

    ‘Lazy’ is a good word to criticise what you don’t approve of. In pronunciation it is a favourite of peevers ignorant of the processes of sound change. Just call a pronunciation ‘lazy’ and you’ve conveyed everything you want to convey about it.

    Calling translators ‘lazy’ is similar. Translation itself is an attempt to transfer a message from one language to another. It involves a lot of choices in vocabulary, syntax, and tone. But despite oft-encountered recommendations that a good translation should convey the sense of the original without slavishly following its form, translation almost always involves a mechanical reproduction of the original. A good translator is arguably one who knows which words to leave out, which words to add, and where to nip and tuck to make the message more acceptable. But the basic process follows the contours of the original, at times right down to the vagaries of punctuation. When translators encounter a language or style that is far removed from those they are familiar with, as cultures of the Middle East or Far East did when translating 19th century European prose, there is often little choice but to stretch the contours of their own language to accommodate the alien vocabulary, syntax, and expressions. Sometimes the result is fresh and challenging; at others it is ugly and ponderous.

    In more modern times, where translators of news stories are more often than not translating from English, there is the constant pull of English journalistic prose, its language, and its distorting devices. Ideally the translator should rewrite the story for the local audience, and indeed a comparison of the same news story in different languages will reveal how stories have been remoulded by the omission of details here and there to suit local tastes. But expressions like ‘extremists launched a terrorist attack’, with their value judgements and fitting of events into pat stereotypes do keep finding their way into news broadcasts in languages around the world. Similarly for the general style of news stories. English went from one style of news writing (long and explanatory) to another (rapidly presenting the facts in digestible form) in a very short period of time. I suspect that this has had a subtle effect on English style in general, including grammatical constructions. The same applies to the influence of Western news reporting on other languages. A news translator faced with a torrent of stories following the same format every day has little choice but to be ‘lazy’. He/she may do his/her best to remould stories to make them fit local style but it is a major intellectual effort to rewrite every single story in a way that is felt to be more ‘fitting’ to the local language.

  46. David Eddyshaw says:

    There’s lots of historical examples once you start thinking, some of them pretty extreme. Kanbun is the ne plus ultra, I guess, but there’s also Imperial Aramaic (aka “think in Persian, write in Aramaic -ish”) and even Latin, overworking its ablative absolute to make up for not having any of those nice Greek active past participles.

  47. Lars (the original one) says:

    What I don’t get — If you go to the comments page, the line just below the heading should go like

    All | Pending(2) | Approved | Spam(123456) | Trash(10)

    Pending would be the moderation queue, Spam — purgatory. I assume the vanishing posts are in there, you might be able to search for poster names.

  48. marie-lucie says:

    translating vs. rewriting

    Some years ago when I was looking for an academic job, I answered ads posted in English with an application letter in English. Then I found an ad in French, so I thought I would just translate my English application. After a few sentences I gave up! The result was just too awkward. So I started a new letter in French from scratch, covering the same factual content but away from the linguistic influence of the English text.

  49. He/she may do his/her best to remould stories to make them fit local style but it is a major intellectual effort to rewrite every single story in a way that is felt to be more ‘fitting’ to the local language.

    I’ve heard once on the radio a lecture given by some Indian journalist in which, as far as I was able to understand the main point, he explained that every story about every conflict in the “third world” (scare quotes as well as terminology is mine) should be told in a way to make sure that it is all the colonizer’s fault.

  50. Spam — purgatory. I assume the vanishing posts are in there, you might be able to search for poster names.

    I tried with “Marjanović” and got no results, and was about to give up when I thought “What the heck, I’ll try Bathrobe” and lo and behold, there were two long comments! They appeared identical, so I approved one and deleted the other. Thanks for the tip!

  51. Tried “Cowan” and got only the following:

    57 years old Social Worker Mcqueeney from Cowansville, spends time with interests for instance
    snowmobile riding, 인터넷바카라 and writing.

    Was exceptionally encouraged after planning to
    Cidade Velha.

  52. It’s a minor archipelago that happens to be in Europe, not a minor one out of the European archipelagos. Potentially ambiguous, but I don’t see anything wrong with this.

    It’s pretty damn big for a “minor” archipelago; I think only Indonesia and Japan are larger in terms of land area.

  53. Trond Engen says:

    The Canadian archipelago must be bigger. And we run into definitional issues in the Indonesian (or Malay?) Archipelago. Are the Philippines an archipelago of its own? Is New Guinea the main island of an archipelago, and if so, where do we draw its western border?

  54. Trond Engen says:

    Is Greenland part of the Canadian Archipelago? If not, does the lesser islands around its coasts make an archipelago? And anyway, what about Madagascar?

  55. Trond Engen says:

    The problem with scientific registers isn’t that they get anglified in syntax and lexicon, but that the language in the scientific domain is being completely replaced by English. We lose the fluency to express and comprehend scientific issues in other languages than English. The lament, then, is not so much for language change as for beginning language loss.

  56. Bathrobe says:

    there were two long comments! They appeared identical, so I approved one and deleted the other.

    You can delete both of them. I split them up and got them through later as two separate comments. So there is still a doubling up of comments.

  57. @ Trond Engen

    The Canadian Arctic Archipelago is a good point, although it looks like it loses out to the Malay Archipelago (which is Indonesia + the Philippines + [sometimes] New Guinea). The Philippines by themselves are a little bit smaller than the British Isles.

    I’ll amend my statement to argue that the British Isles are going to be in the top five, or just outside it. (This list has it at number four by land area.) A “minor archipelago” would something like the Canary Islands; the British Isles are not “minor”.

    (As for Madagascar, I think the point is that you need at least two roughly similar-sized islands to have an archipelago. Madagascar is one big island, with )

  58. Lars (the original one) says:

    I tried with “Marjanović” and got no results — getting non-ASCII letters from an input field to a search expression that works is not directly a black art, but it is a question of doing exactly what it says in the manual, and thus presupposes that you’re one of the rare breed of programmers that reads such. (And don’t trust the Google unless it leads you to an MDN page).

    My point: Try looking for “Marjanovi” or even “David”, might give more joy.

  59. I have an impression, possibly wrong, that South America has steadfastly been indifferent to the English language, as a useful global language or otherwise, and that accordingly English has had relatively little influence on American Spanish.

  60. Try looking for “Marjanovi”

    Bingo! I found one (very long) comment that I set free and should now be in the thread.

  61. Bathrobe says:

    English, after all, is a Germanic language with a lot of French in it, not only in vocabulary but also grammar.

    Latin grammar, yes, but French?

    Well, things like ‘That goes without saying’ and ‘Having said that…’ both strike me as being from French (?). I’m sure there are more.

  62. I imagine English as well and Spanish tambien are related by calquing somehow, but I haven’t figured out by what path.

  63. The article’s rhetoric is absurd. “From inauspicious beginnings on the edge of a minor European archipelago…”

    Well, yes. As everyone knows the Anglo-Saxons arrived in eastern England from the Faroe Islands, and rapidly spread across most of Great Britain, displacing the native Britons, thanks to their superior knitting technology.

  64. marie-lucie says:

    Bathrobe: Well, things like ‘That goes without saying’ and ‘Having said that…’ both strike me as being from French (?)

    “That goes without saying” = Cela va sans dire

    but “Having said that” = Ceci dit ‘This [being] said’

    Y: I imagine English as well and Spanish tambien are related by calquing somehow

    Spanish también = Catalan també, Occitan also has similar forms (depending on the dialect). These seem to be equivalent to a probable older French tant bien = modern aussi bien, which is not used on its own but followed by que and a phrase, as in ‘as well as (doing …)”.

  65. dainichi says:

    What looks like cognates of “as well (as)” are common in Germanic, although possibly restricted to the use as full conjunctions:

    (De) sowohl A als B
    (Da) såvel A som B, A såvel som B

    So I find it unlikely that Germanic borrowed it from Romance. Possibly the other way? Visigoth influence?

    PS. I assume English switched from “so” to “as” at some point. To make the construction more parallel?

  66. @ dainichi: I wouldn’t exclude Romance influence here a priori. After all, French was a major prestige language in Europe for centuries and the Germanic and Slavic languages are full of calques from French. A path French > German > Scandinavian is also possible. One needs to look at the attestations to check on the age of sowohl and its counterparts.

  67. Eidolon says:

    English’s global dominance is part of a package of Anglo-American influence that extends far beyond language. From fashion to architecture, political systems to educational institutions, aesthetics to moral values, the world lies in the throes of Anglo-American hegemony. Is there any argument that changes visited upon languages will be more enduring and long lasting than changes visited upon the rest of society? In that case, I beg to differ. It’s not as though that, should the Anglo-American world cease to exist as a cultural and political force tomorrow, the world would experience a collective reversion to the 15th century in all but language. In fact, I’d consider language to be one of the relatively less affected areas, compared to practices in fashion, architecture, science, politics, and technology, in which the whole sale adoption of Anglo-American or Western civilization patterns is almost universal and the “death” of local cultures much more rapid and complete.

    With language, at least it exists only at the level of loan words and grammatical influences, in most places. In architecture, fashion, etc., it’s down right replacement. Look out the window of New York, Shanghai, and Mumbai, and this becomes obvious. The Anglo-Americanization or Westernization of the world cannot be reverted, or even slowed, as long as the West is the dominant political, economic, and cultural force in the world. Language is but a small fraction of the process, and not even close to being the most visible one. However, it is the case that linguists seem to be much more obsessed with characterizing language change as “death,” “corruption,” or “deformation”; it’s almost as though “purity,” a long abandoned concept in cultural studies, is still cherished in linguistics.

  68. marie-lucie says:

    Eidolon: linguists seem to be much more obsessed with characterizing language change as “death,” “corruption,” or “deformation”; it’s almost as though “purity,” a long abandoned concept in cultural studies, is still cherished in linguistics.

    I don’t know what linguists you may have been reading. Perhaps journalists instead, attempting to channel linguists? “Language death” is not language change, but the disappearance of a language because no one speaks it any more, so it is no longer passed on to successive generations as is normal in a linguistic community. As for language change as a result of the influence of a more dominant language, I don’t think any Western linguists have even used the words “corruption” and “deformation” in a hundred years! “Purity” may have survived a little longer, but none of those words are part of the technical vocabulary of linguistics. Look up “language contact” and you will get quite a number of references to the work of modern specialists. I don’t think any of them would use such moralistic vocabulary as you quote.

  69. J.W. Brewer says:

    A review of four decades’ worth of winners of the Pritzker Prize should make it clear that contemporary architecture is not primarily or disproportionately the fault of L1 Anglophones.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pritzker_Architecture_Prize

  70. Language is but a small fraction of the process, and not even close to being the most visible one.

    And yet this is a language blog, so we talk about language.

  71. In architecture, fashion, etc., it’s down right replacement. Look out the window of New York, Shanghai, and Mumbai, and this becomes obvious. The Anglo-Americanization or Westernization of the world cannot be reverted, or even slowed

    Westernisation, maybe. But Anglo-Americanisation? In architecture and fashion? No. Modern architecture and modern fashion were invented by people who mostly did not speak English as a first language. They spoke Dutch, French, German, Russian, Italian, Spanish.

  72. Nevertheless, there has been a tendency, at least in Germany, to see modernity, especially in the 20th century, as a process of Americanisation. One of the reasons for that was that modern features, especially in architecture, were more visible in the cities of America, where they were not overshadowed by old buildings as in Europe, and there was also more of an “everything goes” attitude.

  73. Yes, America-bashing has been a cheap amusement for a couple of centuries now. The pretexts have differed according to circumstances, but the fun remains.

  74. That’s one of the things America and Russia have in common: Russia-bashing has been equally popular over a similar period, the pretexts likewise differing according to circumstances.

  75. “Russia-bashing has been equally popular over a similar period, the pretexts likewise differing according to circumstances.”

    Too dismissive.

  76. Not sure what you mean — dismissive of whom or what?

  77. J.W. Brewer says:

    Hans: Surely it would have been better for all concerned if Germany in the 1930’s had had a government that supported rather than disdained the Bauhaus school. Maybe Mies van der Rohe could have stayed home rather than emigrate to Chicago and lower the average quality of architecture there.

  78. Well, I grant you that probably any different government Germany could have had after 1933 would have been better than the one we actually had for everyone concerned…

  79. J.W. Brewer says:

    I didn’t mean to suggest that that ranked particularly high on that regime’s very lengthy list of defects …

    But I’m mildly surprised that Germans would in general view modernism/modernity as roughly synonymous with Anglo-American hegemony since not only do they have their own quite substantial contributions to the genre but they are well-positioned to notice alternative approaches offered by the French, the Scandinavians, etc etc. Of course if the only way they can communicate with their French or Scandinavian neighbors is in English, that may skew perceptions a bit …

  80. To be sure, the Germans were even better positioned to notice French and Scandinavian architecture in 1941-45.

  81. @JWB: Well, those mostly conservative writers that complained about Americanisation saw Bauhaus and similar movements in other European countries as symptoms of Americanisation, not as something home-grown.

  82. “Westernisation, maybe. But Anglo-Americanisation? In architecture and fashion? No. Modern architecture and modern fashion were invented by people who mostly did not speak English as a first language. They spoke Dutch, French, German, Russian, Italian, Spanish.”

    Influence is not the same as invention. Christianity began in the Middle East, but it was the Europeans who spread it to Asia and Africa. I call Westernization, Anglo-Americanization, because Anglo-Americans played a dominant role in spreading their variety of Western culture to the world. The nature of linguistic influence is itself evidence of this – it’s English, not French, Dutch, German, Russian, Italian, or Spanish that is the predominant source of linguistic influence in the contemporary world.

    But I wouldn’t say that none of it was invented in the Anglo-American world, either, even in fashion and architecture. The skyscrapers that line the horizons of urban cities all over the world were born in the US. The T-shirt wearing trend ubiquitous around the world was also born in the US. The first suburbs emerged in England. Universities around the newly Westernized world take after Oxford and Cambridge, Harvard and Yale.

    I don’t speak of Anglo-Americanization lightly. It’s not a case of triumphalism, either. But every where around the world that you look, it is the English language and the Anglo-American culture that embodies modernity and advancement. The dominance of English would not be sensible, otherwise.

    “I don’t know what linguists you may have been reading. Perhaps journalists instead, attempting to channel linguists? “Language death” is not language change, but the disappearance of a language because no one speaks it any more, so it is no longer passed on to successive generations as is normal in a linguistic community. As for language change as a result of the influence of a more dominant language, I don’t think any Western linguists have even used the words “corruption” and “deformation” in a hundred years! “Purity” may have survived a little longer, but none of those words are part of the technical vocabulary of linguistics. Look up “language contact” and you will get quite a number of references to the work of modern specialists. I don’t think any of them would use such moralistic vocabulary as you quote.”

    Language commentators, rather. Academic linguists, less so – in public, in any case. But my thesis is that “modernization” – in the sense of Westernization or Anglo-Americanization – is often welcomed, even though it leads to the replacement or even “death” of local practices, customs, and cultures; but “language corruption” is ironically often opposed, even though the two processes go hand in hand. English’s influence as a language is directly proportional to the influence of Anglo-American culture in the process of modernization. Had there been an alternative, a way by which you can become “modernized” without becoming “Anglo-Americanized” – English would not be nearly as dominant, or as influential, as it is now. The spread of the English language is, in this sense, merely a side show in what’s actually happening around the world: whole sale Anglo-Americanization.

  83. Influence is not the same as invention. Christianity began in the Middle East, but it was the Europeans who spread it to Asia and Africa. I call Westernization, Anglo-Americanization, because Anglo-Americans played a dominant role in spreading their variety of Western culture to the world. The nature of linguistic influence is itself evidence of this – it’s English, not French, Dutch, German, Russian, Italian, or Spanish that is the predominant source of linguistic influence in the contemporary world.

    But I wouldn’t say that none of it was invented in the Anglo-American world, either, even in fashion and architecture. The skyscrapers that line the horizons of urban cities all over the world were born in the US. The T-shirt wearing trend ubiquitous around the world was also born in the US. The first suburbs emerged in England. Universities around the newly Westernized world take after Oxford and Cambridge, Harvard and Yale.

    I don’t speak of Anglo-Americanization lightly. It’s not a case of triumphalism, either. But every where around the world that you look, it is the English language and the Anglo-American culture that embodies modernity and advancement. The dominance of English is sensible only in the context of Anglo-American culture becoming the global standard, and thus, the entire world is becoming Anglo-Americanized.

  84. dainichi says:

    Bathrobe:
    > I do know that English journalistic style has had a big impact on Japanese journalistic style in the space of less than 30-40 years.
    Could you give examples?

    David Eddyshaw:
    >Kanbun is the ne plus ultra,
    If you mean by this that Japan calqued grammatical constructions from Chinese through kanbun, I’d love to hear more. When I first learned the Mandarin construction ~的时候 (when …), I thought “the Japanese so calqued (some version of) this with ~とき”, but somehow I’ve never been able to find support for it.

    ml:
    > I don’t see that this restructuring improves the French language in any way!
    One word less (except when the preposition is fused)! Does it worsen it in any way that’s not your subjective opinion?

  85. Bathrobe says:

    @ dainichi

    I believe that the overall trend in Japanese news writing is towards simplification and putting the key message up front. This is quite different from the old heavily pre-modified style and is, I believe, at least partly due to the influence of English.

    I remember translating endless Japanese newspaper articles that started with things like “With regard to the issue of beef and oranges that has become a key point of friction in U.S.-Japanese relations….” Sentences are now getting shorter and this kind of relative-clause-heavy construction appears to be used much less than before.

    I touch on this here: Choppy Japanese. Warning in advance: not a scintillating article. The example that I discuss is possibly extreme and perhaps the personal style of one individual, but I find it quite amazing that such a style is appearing in a sober, conservative newspaper like the Nikkei. Times have changed.

  86. Christianity began in the Middle East, but it was the Europeans who spread it to Asia and Africa.

    It certainly wasn’t. Christianity was spread to Africa and Asia directly from its origins in Palestine. There were Christian churches across North Africa and central Asia within a century of the crucifixion. There were African popes by the second century. According to tradition, the first bishop of an African see was St. Mark the Evangelist.

  87. Trond Engen says:

    It certainly wasn’t.

    Obviously. But it also was, in the sense that in large portions of Africa and Asia, Christianity didn’t make much impact before the European expansion spread Roman Catholicism and assorted Protestantism, and these are also the forms of Christianity that are still expanding on a substrate of local religions.

  88. @ajay

    The initial expansions of Palestinian Christianity in Asia and Africa were largely extirpated by the spread of Islam from the 7th century on, except in the Horn of Africa. The popularization of Christianity in most of Africa today are the result of missionary work in a colonial context. This is especially the case in southern Africa, where Christianity became the prevailing religion recently, while Islam is the more popular faith in the north. In Asia, this is even more apparent, as the pockets of Christianity in states like Ming China, Joseon Korea, and the kingdoms of Malaysia had minimal impact on society until the arrival of European missionaries.

    All this is to say that the world before the last five centuries of European empire building was a very different place. You can’t write off the magnitude of Anglo-American influence simply because they didn’t invent every concept, technology, custom, religion, or practice that they spread. Linguistic influences have clear cultural analogies. A culture’s language does not simply become the dominant global language without also having been the dominant global culture – among elites, in any case. That is as much the case with English, as it was the case with Latin and Arabic in their respective periods and regions. Language is the flag bearer of culture, and today, all cultures are under the heavy influence of Western culture and its de facto lingua franca: English.

  89. All this is to say that the world before the last five centuries of European empire building was a very different place. You can’t write off the magnitude of Anglo-American influence

    There’s a suspicious slippage there between “European” and “Anglo-American.”

  90. David Marjanović says:

    Bingo! I found one (very long) comment that I set free and should now be in the thread.

    Calloo! Callay!

    I am bothered by statements used as questions. For example, “This is an english sentence?”. I don’t like them in my L1 AmE and they bother me more in my spanish lessons, especially when there is no punctuation. To bring this back on topic, which way is this trend moving? En to es or es to en? Is it happening in other European languages?

    Questions marked only by intonation or a question mark are ubiquitous in colloquial French, so I’m guessing es to en.

    Clearly yes. However, there has been innovation in the center of Germanic as well: only the peripheral varieties (Middle) English, Icelandic, and Yiddish have V2 order in subordinate clauses as well as main clauses.

    That’s not a retention… and the center of Germanic, measured by the lack of sub- and superstrates and the founder effect + isolation of Iceland, is Denmark.

    You can observe this in German, which famously has strict V2 syntax in main clauses. However, colloquial German is full of verb-initial sentences. “Kann nicht sein!” you say… oops. These are obviously elliptic, with an initial “das” or “es” elided, but at some point a syntactic reanalysis might happen. Clearly the all-pervasive Welsh language is changing German syntactic patterns. What other explanation could there be?

    Das can be elided, es cannot; verb-initial sentences explicitly encode an elided demonstrative.

    Except in jokes. Treffen sich zwei. Kommt einer nicht. “Two people are meeting; one of them doesn’t show up.”

    a certain romanticization of a certain notion of Amerika that many Teutonophones have been suckers for since the 19th century

    das Land der unbegrenzten Möglichkeiten “the land of unlimited possibilities/opportunities” – widely enough known that Austria has been called the same with Unmöglichkeiten.

    Then I found an ad in French, so I thought I would just translate my English application. After a few sentences I gave up!

    I recently applied for a position in German for the first time. I soon found I had to translate whole sentences or paragraphs rather than any smaller units (and omit even the subtle bragging that is expected in English). Translating from French to English is the hardest of any such combinations I can do at all.

    The problem with scientific registers isn’t that they get anglified in syntax and lexicon, but that the language in the scientific domain is being completely replaced by English. We lose the fluency to express and comprehend scientific issues in other languages than English. The lament, then, is not so much for language change as for beginning language loss.

    My colleague from long-vowelled Beaune flat-out calls himself an English monoglot in scientific matters. It’s not just new words that (would) need to be rendered in each language every year as science advances and creates more of them in English, but whole phrases, including things that may be hard or impossible to calque.

    PS. I assume English switched from “so” to “as” at some point. To make the construction more parallel?

    Likely; the change from so good as to as good as is not quite completed yet.

    I have no idea how sowohl A als (auch) B is in German; the fact that my dialect lacks it (and wohl altogether) may not mean anything.

    Nevertheless, there has been a tendency, at least in Germany, to see modernity, especially in the 20th century, as a process of Americanisation.

    And the funny thing is that its pro- and opponents have largely agreed that that’s what it is.

    One word less (except when the preposition is fused)! Does it worsen it in any way that’s not your subjective opinion?

    As m-l already explained, it actively suggests a wrong interpretation. That it’s wrong becomes obvious as you read on, but it still trips you up; and that’s exactly the kind of thing I tell authors to repair when I review a manuscript (invariably in English).

  91. Trond Engen says:

    David M.: It’s not just new words that (would) need to be rendered in each language every year as science advances and creates more of them in English, but whole phrases, including things that may be hard or impossible to calque.

    And as time goes and there’s less and less writing, speaking or idle chatting about science in a language, it only gets harder. In our quest to internationalize our scientific institutions we’ve forgotten why that university or academy needs to exist at all.

  92. I’m guessing es to en.

    I’m guessing yi to en; I associate such intonation-only questions with Yinglish.

    That said, English does have what Jespersen talked about, the failure to actually pronounce the first few words of a sentence, independent of grammar. “[I am] going to the store, [do you] want to come with me?” If you drop just the auxiliary, then only the intonation separates “[Do] you see the man over there?” from “You see the man over there.”

  93. As well as having questions marked only by rising intonation, Yiddish has the question tag nu. An utterance with a declarative pitch contour can be converted into a question by just adding a rising “nu?” at the end.

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