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Anglicisms in the German Newsmagazines "FOCUS" and "Der Spiegel"

A Comparison Dealing with the Quantity, Word Classes and the Context of Anglicisms in the Two Newsmagazines

Hausarbeit (Hauptseminar) 2011 35 Seiten

Anglistik - Linguistik


Table of Contents

1. Anglicisms in the German Language

2. Design of the Present Study
2.1. Aim
2.2. Study Material
2.3. Method

3. Comparison of Anglicisms in Der Spiegel and the FOCUS
3.1. Quantity
3.2. Word-Classes
3.2.1. Adjectives and Adverbial Phrases
3.2.2. Verbs
3.2.3. Nouns Types of word formation
a) Compounds
b) Initialisms
3.3. Context

4. Summary

5. References
5.1. Primary Sources
5.2. Secondary Sources
5.2.1. Internet Sources

6. Appendix
6.1. List of All Anglicisms (FOCUS + Der Spiegel), ordered by frequency
6.2. Anglicisms in the FOCUS
6.3. Anglicisms in Der Spiegel
6.4. Compounds
6.5. Initialisms
6.6. Anglicisms in the FOCUS and Der Spiegel, ordered by categories
6.7. Comparison of Anglicisms in Der Spiegel and the FOCUS (chart)

1. Anglicisms in the German Language

The subject of English influencing the German language has become more and more obvious in the last decades, particularly in the last few years. The Deutsche Bahn (DB) is a very graphic example for this language fashion. You buy your “Tickets” there at the “Counter” next to the “Service Point” and after you have taken the “City Night Liner”, you can rent a bike from the “Call a Bike” program after having made a short rest in the “DB Lounge”. But there occurred a lot of misunderstandings because of the new short term parking lots in front of railroad stations called “Kiss&Ride” in January 2010. So the chairman of the DB Rüdiger Grube finally decided to reduce the amount of anglicisms at the DB in February 2010. “Counters” turned again into “Schalter”, “Tickets” into “Fahrkarten”, “Call a Bike” is now called “Mietradservice der Deutschen Bahn” again, only established and well known terms like “Bahncard” and “Intercity” stayed the same.[1]

Thus, English has obviously a huge bearing on the German language, especially in the field of facilities and advertising and, above all, on youth language. You would definitely find a lot of anglicisms in youth literature, youth magazines or youth series on TV. You only have to glance at the cover of the BRAVO: headings like “Coole Ansage an seine Hater”, “Neues Game: Star-Memory”, “Romantische Dates” or “Kuscheln im Tourbus” are not a rarity.[2] But how does this phenomenon look for example in German highbrow newsmagazines with the average German newsmagazine readership?

To find this out, I have chosen two very popular German newsmagazines, the FOCUS and Der Spiegel since the two of them represent pretty much the German highbrow newsmagazines. I was interested in the question whether these two magazines also represent the mainstream fashion of using many anglicisms in their articles or not. As there have already been a couple of studies on this topic, especially concerning anglicisms in Der Spiegel, there is also enough comparative data to refer to. The latest work, Alexander Onysko’s “Anglicisms in German”, about anglicisms in Der Spiegel was published in 2007, so it’s really interesting to compare the results of this study with the data of this book to see possible changes or similarities.

2. Design of Present Study

Based on A. Onysko’s book, this study concentrates on those anglicisms which do not belong to any marginal group of anglicisms. These marginal groups include anglicisms 1) which have an ambiguous etymology like Video, Disco or Tourist 2) that have already been phonologically and orthographically adapted to the German language like Stopp, Tipp or Klan 3) which are used as internationalisms of mostly Latin and Greek origin as in Sex, TV or Video. Borderline anglicisms that are included in this study are anglicisms that are half assimilated and half unassimilated with strong evidence of etymological influence from English like Film, Start and Test.[3]

Also excluded from this study are brand names like Facebook © or Blackberry © and their compounds and, of course, proper names and code-switching. On the other hand, English words that have not been assimilated yet and are not to be found in any German Dictionary, like e.g. casual or Guilty Pleasure, are included in this study.

Furthermore, the nouns and adjectives in this investigation were all taken in their in the first person nominative singular. The occurrence of some words in the plural was not considered in this study.

2.1 Aim

The aim of this study is to show how many anglicisms are there to be found in the FOCUS and Der Spiegel in five of their issues of 2011. Since in research it has already been proven that the German highbrow press tries to avoid too many anglicisms and the two newsmagazines FOCUS and Der Spiegel represent the German highbrow newsmagazines pretty well, the hypothesis of this investigation is that there will not be too many anglicisms in these two magazines. The assumption is that there won’t be as much as 10 anglicisms per page. The compared frequency of the anglicisms occurring in the two newsmagazines is probably similar, if you refer to A. Zürn in her doctoral thesis “Anglizismen im Deutschen” from 2001:

„Zwischen den drei Nachrichtenmagazinen [Zürn compared the three newsmagazines Focus, Spiegel and profil ] ergaben sich im wesentlichen keine quantitativen Unterschiede bei der Verwendungshäufigkeit der Anglizismen, weder insgesamt, noch in den einzelnen Kommunikationsbereichen.“[4]

But as this study only examines five issues of each paper and only their front-page articles, there could also be a marginal or even a bigger difference.

2.2 Study Material

The primary material of this study consists of the front-page articles of five issues of the FOCUS with 61 pages in total and five front-page articles of Der Spiegel with 67 pages in total. The five issues used in this study are issues 5 to 9/2011 from the FOCUS, and issues 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6/2011 from Der Spiegel. The articles of Der Spiegel are subdivided into the categories Economy, Science-Technology, Politics and Lifestyle, while the articles of the FOCUS are only segmented into two categories: Lifestyle and Politics. As I wanted to use articles of 2011, there were not yet enough issues to have the same amount of front-page articles dealing with the same categories. That’s why the study only contains articles of the FOCUS dealing with two different categories.

2.3 Method

To find out the number of anglicisms in the respective newsmagazine, all ten articles had to be scanned by reading them closely and concisely. After this step, lists were prepared containing the number of pages of the articles and the anglicisms which were sorted alphabetically for each single article. Next, a list of all anglicisms in both newsmagazines was created and the anglicisms were looked up in four different dictionaries[5] to find out whether they are anglicisms or not. Now, there was the corpus I could work with. The anglicisms were again ordered according to their original newsmagazine and various statistics were compiled. First of all, the numbers of the total frequency of anglicisms in the FOCUS and Der Spiegel were compared (including the total number of anglicisms per page). Afterwards, the anglicisms were subdivided into word classes and compared again, the types of word formation and the etymological origin of the different words were determined and compared, and lastly, the different categories in the context of anglicisms and their frequency were examined and compared. The results of these investigations are listed in the next chapter.

3. Comparison of Anglicisms in Der Spiegel and the FOCUS

In this chapter, the results of the study will be presented. The findings are divided into the above mentioned sections: 1) number of anglicisms and anglicisms per page 2) proportional number of different word classes 3) types of word formations of the nouns 4) the absolut number of anglicisms relating to their category.

3.1 Quantity

Actually, the two newsmagazines Der Spiegel and FOCUS should contain about the same amount of anglicisms according to A.Zürn (cf. p.4). But analyzing only the front-page articles obviously revealed not only a marginal, but a huge difference comparing the number of anglicisms in the two newsmagazines.

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

In total, 322 anglicisms were found. Der Spiegel showed a total amount of 222 anglicisms on 67 pages, while the FOCUS only contained 100 anglicisms on 61 pages. This leads to the conclusion that Der Spiegel contains 3,31 anglicisms per page, while the FOCUS only contains 1,64 anglicisms per page, which is a little less than half of the amount of anglicisms in Der Spiegel. Thus, there is much difference between the two magazines. But this unusual split-up could be due to the fact that the FOCUS in opposition to Der Spiegel deals with only two different categories. Chapter 3.3 will elaborate on the frequency of anglicisms relating to their context/category.

This result, however, is pretty interesting because in addition to the possibility that the frequency of anglicisms depends on the category of the article, there is also the possibility that the number of anglicisms in Der Spiegel has increased in the last 10 years[6] compared to the frequency of anglicisms in the FOCUS. But to prove this assumption, a broad investigation of more than five issues of each magazine in addition to the scanning of all the articles – not only the front-page articles – would be necessary. For the sake of simplicity, this study only shows results and doesn’t go into detail, only where it’s possible on the basis of this relatively small corpus (compared to the studies of Zürn and Onysko).

To sum up, Der Spiegel contains twice as much anglicisms per page as the FOCUS, whereas you have to bear in mind that the FOCUS only deals with two categories in the front-page articles of the five chosen issues.

3.2 Word classes

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthaltenConcerning the word classes of the anglicisms, the overall trend was relatively similar in both newsmagazines: In Der Spiegel, 95,5% of the found anglicisms were nouns, 3,15% verbs and 1,35% adjectives/adverbial phrases (the expression “made in China” is counted to the group of adjectives as an adverbial phrase). Compared to that, the anglicisms in the FOCUS consist of 91% nouns, 4% verbs and 5% adjectives/adverbial phrases (here, the expression “made in Germany”, which occurs twice in the FOCUS, is included).

3.2.1 Adjectives and Adverbial Phrases

Referring to the adjectives and adverbial phrases, one noticeable difference appears: While only about every 100th word of all the anglicisms in Der Spiegel is an adjective/adverbial phrase, the number of the adjectives/adverbial phrases in the FOCUS is about four times higher. But it isn’t only apparent that their number, comparing the anglicisms in the two newsmagazines, diverges but also the fact that the adjectives and adverbial phrases have very different origins. While the adjectives in Der Spiegel are already all in the “Rechtschreibduden” (boomend, smart, made in China), one adjective in the FOCUS hasn’t been institutionalized yet: the word casual. This word can neither be found in the “Duden Herkunftswörterbuch”, nor in the “Duden Fremdwörterbuch”, nor in the “Deutsches Neologismenwörterbuch”, as well. Thus, casual is a very recent borrowing. As well as smart, it is directly borrowed from the English word “casual” and hasn’t really changed its meaning either. But in this case, the borrowing certainly hasn’t happened because there is no German equivalent. This case is rather an example for borrowing as a 21st century fashion. The term casual has first been used in the field of fashion like in Casual Stil or Casual Mode[7], but its importance has grown and is now used in more categories, e.g. C-Date or Casual Dating, which are both to be found in the FOCUS in an article about sex in Germany.

The other adjectives in the FOCUS, in addition to the adverbial phrase made in Germany, are cool and sexy. These two adjectives have the same origin as casual: the forms and their meanings have just been taken over into German, whereas cool has got only one meaning in German: cool = stets die Ruhe bewahrend, ruhig[8], while there are two separate meanings in English: cool = calm and cool = chilly.

3.2.2 Verbs

The percentage of verbs is about the same in both newsmagazines. While Der Spiegel contains 3,15% verbs, the anglicisms in the FOCUS consist of 4% verbs.

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

*total number of verbs including multiple mentions

One verb, trainieren, occurs coincidentally in both magazines two times. This verb was built a little bit different than the other verbs. Not only was the German verb ending –en detached to the English origin “to train”, there was also –ier inserted in front of the verb ending. The FOCUS additionally contains the verbs strippen and kidnappen, which are both derived from English verbs “to strip” and “to kidnap” complemented with the doubling of the consonants and the German verb ending –en. Der Spiegel contains, in addition to trainieren, the verbs interviewen, joggen, surfen, which are also derived from English nouns and googlen and taggen. Three of those verbs – namely surfen, googlen and taggen are related to the field of the Internet, while interviewen and joggen are not. At a first glance, their structure looks very similar – taking an English verb adding –en. Googeln, however, constitutes an exception as the English verb “to google” has been created along the lines of the trademark of the internet search engine Google© and was then taken over into German. So, this verb is a newly coined word on the basis of a brand name. Another exception is the verb taggen. It is also built like the other verbs, but this verb is not in the “Duden Rechtschreibwörterbuch” yet. It can only be found in the “Duden – Fremdwörterbuch”. So, taggen is also a recent borrowing like the adjective casual. In German, t aggen describes the activity of marking a person on a picture which has been uploaded to a social network like Facebook©. On the other hand, “to tag” in English actually only meant to mark somebody/something with a sticker or a label, but nowadays there’s also the additional meaning of “social tagging” in the English language. What is more is that googlen and taggen both occur in the form of the passive participle (getaggt, gegoogelt), but they don’t bear the meaning of adjectives, they just occur as past tense forms.[9]

3.2.3 Nouns

Of course, the percentage of nouns in the two newsmagazines assimilates with the number of the adjectives/adverbial phrases, since the amount of the verbs is approximately the same. The anglicisms in Der Spiegel consist of 95,5% nouns, while there are “only” 91% nouns in the FOCUS. But most borrowings respectively anglicisms, like in Zürn’s and Onysko’s findings, are nouns. They are most of the time used to describe a new thing or a new technology that comes to Germany, like e.g. the internet and its “relatives”.[10] The Germans do most of the time not have an appropriate German equivalent, so they just integrate the English expression into their language. Sometimes, it is also just hard to think of a suitable translation and using a paraphrase is too inconvenient. This is also true for every other language in the world, not only for German. Types of Word Formation

The biggest part of the nouns found in Der Spiegel and the FOCUS were compounds varying in their type of compound. The rest of the nouns consist of some initialisms (cf. appendix 6.5) of different types and the rest were nouns either having been established in the German language already for a longer time (like Computer or Internet), but also some recently borrowed words like Connection, Deputies or Bonding, which are not in the Duden and haven’t been Germanized yet. In the following subchapters, the single types of nouns are introduced more closely.

a) Compounds

Comparing the corpora of Der Spiegel and the FOCUS in regard to the compounds, you first of all recognize three different types of compound-formation (cf. appendix 6.4). There are those compounds that are written with a hyphen, those written in one word and those written in two (or more) separate words. These types again differ in their composition: they are either partly German and partly English, like Killer-Mannschaft or Hightech-Labor, or they are completely English, like Know-how or Soft Skills.

The corpus of Der Spiegel only contains one compound which consists of two separate English words (Soft Power), while the FOCUS contains more compounds of this type: Casual Dating, Chief Executive Officer, Guilty Pleasure, Male Bonding and Soft Skills. Most of these words haven’t even got a dictionary entry in the “Rechtschreibduden”. For Casual Dating, only Date has got an entry, Chief Executive Officer is only mentioned in the “Duden – Fremdwörterbuch”, Guilty Pleasure isn’t mentioned at all, for Male Bonding, only Bonding has got an entry in the “Fremdwörterbuch” and Soft Skills is the only compound mentioned in the “Rechtschreibduden”.

The overall number of compounds (without multiple mentions) was 69 in Der Spiegel and 52 in the FOCUS. 43,47% were compounds with hyphens in Der Spiegel, while in the FOCUS 52,85% of the compounds were written with hyphens.

38 of the 69 compounds in Der Spiegel were written in one word, which makes up more than the half of the words (to be exact: 55,07%), whereas the number of one-word compounds in the FOCUS is about 20% less, namely 36,54% compounds in the FOCUS are written together.

Last but not least, it should be mentioned here that considering the overall number of anglicisms in the FOCUS, much more anglicisms are compounds than in Der Spiegel.

b) Initialisms

If you concentrate on the initialisms in the corpora of the two German newsmagazines, you notice that the corpus of the FOCUS only contains three initialisms, which are all hybrid forms, consisting of one abbreviated word and a full lexeme: C-Date, E-Mail and TV-Show. C-Date hasn’t been institutionalized yet and can neither be found in the “Rechtschreibduden” nor in one of the other three dictionaries. On the other hand, E-Mail and TV-Show are already permanent features of the “Rechtschreibduden”.


[1] cf. Brönstrup, Carsten. Nie wieder „Kiss&Ride“ mit der Deutschen Bahn. <>. 03-03-11.

[2] cf. BRAVO Nr.01 title-page, 29.12.2010. <>. 03-03-11.

[3] cf. Onysko, Alexander. Anglicisms in German. Borrowing, Lexical Productivity and Written Codeswitching. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co. KG 2007. 109-110.

[4] cf. Zürn, Alexandra. Anglizismen im Deutschen. Universität Karlsruhe: 2001. 221.

[5] The dictionaries were:

Scholze-Stubenrecht, Werner (ed.). Duden 1 – Die deutsche Rechtschreibung. 24th ed. Mannheim [e.a.]: Dudenverlag 2006.

Kraif, Ursula (ed.). Duden 5 – Das Fremdwörterbuch. 10th ed. Mannheim [e.a.]: Dudenverlag 2010.

Alsleben, Brigitte (ed.). Duden 7 – Das Herkunftswörterbuch. 4th edition. Mannheim [e.a.]: Dudenverlag 2007.

Quasthoff, Uwe (ed.). Deutsches Neologismenwörterbuch. Neue Wörter und Wortbedeutungen in der Gegenwartssprache. Berlin [e.a.]: de Gruyter 2007.

[6] compared to A. Zürn’s results

[7] cf. Duden – Fremdwörterbuch

[8] cf. „cool“ in: Duden – Die deutsche Rechtschreibung.

[9] cf. Duden –Rechtschreibung (2006)/ Duden – Fremdwörterbuch (2010) / Duden – Herkunftswörterbuch (2007)

[10] cf. Katamba, Francis ²2005 [1994]. English Words. Structure, history, usage. London: Routledge. 139-140.


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ISBN (Buch)
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Universität Regensburg – Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik
anglicisms german newsmagazines focus spiegel comparison dealing quantity word classes context




Titel: Anglicisms in the German Newsmagazines "FOCUS" and "Der Spiegel"