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Gastvortrag: The Dynamic Lexicon of English: A Socio-cognitive Approach to Loan Processes and Their Linguistic Effects (Dr. Julia Landmann)

Lecturer(s)Dr. Julia Landmann
Contact personKathrin Eckerth
DateTuesday, 6th December 2022, 13:00 - 14:00

The Dynamic Lexicon of English: A sociocognitive approach towards loan
processes and their linguistic effects

Julia Landmann (University of Basel)

This paper contributes to the investigation of the dynamics of the lexicon of the English language.
Using an integrative sociocognitive model of the dynamic lexicon (see Schmid 2018: 215231),
borrowing processes and their linguistic effects on English are to be illustrated. The focus of interest
will be on lexical units which have been adopted from French, Spanish, German and Yiddish into
English since the nineteenth century. Compared to previous centuries, there has been a general
increase in the number of borrowed words from these languages since 1801. New media, such as the
Oxford English Dictionary Online (OED) and corpora (e.g. the British National Corpus, the Corpus of
Contemporary American English) will make it possible to examine to what extent the borrowings
demonstrate semantic, morphological, and contextual variability in the receiving language.

The focus of the present paper is not on the total vocabulary borrowed from French, German,
Spanish and Yiddish into English since 1801, but on several hundred relatively widespread lexical
units that have undergone changes over the centuries with respect to their meaning, word form, and
contextual use, and thus brought about variation and change in the lexicon of the receiving language.

Lexical innovation and change are typical characteristics of a living language. They often point to
changing social situations or recent cultural trends. As to Schmid’s model, it will be essential to
determine what is felt to be ‘French’, ‘Spanish, ‘German’ or ‘Yiddish’ when carrying out contrastive
analyses of language use and variation in specific English semantic areas. In order to identify
connections between linguistic features and social or sociocognitive attitudes, precise descriptions
of very particular and culturally embedded attitudes are necessary.
For example, the usage of
German borrowings signalin
g GermanAmerican identity is not as widespread as the analogous
phenomenon in Yiddish, where borrowings are systematically used to build up
repertoires” (see Benor 2010).
As will be seen, Yiddish borrowings are consciously used as cultural
clues by (American) Jews, in order to depict an authentic image of Jewish culture and to indicate

their ethnic identity.
There are many more relevant cultural contexts that are important for the
analysis of the vocabulary carried out in this study.
This paper will offer some detailed case studies of
typical types of borrowing
reflecting connections of linguistic features and sociocultural attitudes
which have been
identified in the overall analysis.


Benor, S. B. (2010):
“Ethnolinguistic repertoire: Shifting the analytic focus in language and ethnicity.”
Journal of Sociolinguistics
14(2), 159183.
Landmann, J. (accepted): The Dynamic Lexicon of English: A sociocognitive approach towards loan
processes and their linguistic effects.
Brill Studies in Language Contact and the Dynamics of
. Leiden: Brill.
Schmid, H. (2018): “Ein integratives soziokognitives Modell des dynamischen Lexikons,” in: Engelberg,
S. Lobin, H. Steyer, K. Wolfer, S. (eds.): Wortschätze: Dynamik, Muster, Komplexität.
Institut für Deutsche Sprache. Jahrbuch 2017. Berlin Boston: de Gruyter, 215231.

Schultz, J. (2012). Twentiethcentury Borrowings from French to English: Their Reception and
Development. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

Schultz, Julia (2016). Twentieth Century Borrowings from German to English: Their Semantic
Integration and Contextual Usage.
Duisburger Arbeiten zur Sprach und
/Duisburg Papers on Research in Language and Culture. Frankfurt [et al.]:

Schultz, J. (2018). The Influence of Spanish on the English Language since 1801: A Lexical
Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.