Back
Is the English language a threat?
Dec 05, 2013

 

English, having spread worldwide, is the next thing to a universal language. This might seem good since numerous benefits accrue to a common tongue. But not everyone likes the idea of English taking over the world.
Canadians are familiar with Quebec’s angst re English, but Quebec isn’t alone. Many countries, fearing it might supplant their own languages, also view English as a threat.
English has always freely borrowed words like blitz and camouflage, and we see this as beneficial. Still, other lands object to loanwords from English. Some countries, much as Quebec has done, enact laws to protect their native languages. France is an example.
However, English loanwords are so prevalent in Europe that residents talk of “Eurospeak,” “Eurotish,” or “Minglish.”
Glish and lish are word elements originating in the word, “English.” When one of these is attached to the name of another language it indicates intermingled elements from both languages. Examples are: Chinglish (Chinese and English), Italish (Italian and English), Russlich (Russian and English), Spanglish (Spanish and English), Swedlish (Swedish and English), and Gerlisch, Angleutsch and Deutschlisch (German and English). All these labels emerged in the 1960s.
Franglais was first used in 1964 by French writer, René Etiemble in, Parlez-vous Franglais?
Although the actual word, Franglais, was unknown until then, the mingling of French and English is much older. In the days when pharmacies were still called “drugstores” and when such stores had soda fountains, I once heard someone in a Norwood drugstore order, “Un milk shake, s’il vous plait.”
Etiemble cites such other English words dropped into French speech as, “call-girl,” “coke,” “meeting,” and “capitalism.”
The U.S. experiences the same thing regarding Spanish. America’s border with Mexico, along with its Puerto Rico connection, ensures that Spanish and English have huge effects on one another.
Several labels have arisen for the resulting hybrid language — Spanglish, Tex-Mex, Border Lingo, Englañol, to name a few. Some examples of Spanglish are, panques (pancakes), bistec (beef steak), 
educación (schooling), and elevador or acendor 
(elevator).
We also have Yinglish (Yiddish and English). Oxford declares Yinglish the oldest of all terms denoting mixed-English. It was first recorded in 1951. Yiddish, itself, is a mingled word that means “Jewish and German.”
It’s probable you frequently use a Yiddish word, since this language has had a decided effect on English. Any colloquial noun ending in nik is most likely a Yiddishism. Think of peacenik, beatnik, computernik and nudnik. Nosh, shlep, bupkis, chutzpah, kibosh and kibbitz are all Yiddish words you’ve used or heard.
As far back as the 17th century, Germany established language societies aimed at preventing word-borrowing. Under Nazism, these Sprachgesellschaften flourished.
Today, Germans do indeed adopt words, but usually translate them. German is famous for its long compound words and the translation of loanwords fits neatly into its tradition of “add-ons.” Thus, “cafeteria” became das Selbstbedienung (self-service).
Even so, Germans do take almost untranslated loanwords. So, the English verb, “to babysit,” becomes babysitten. Babysitten is a Deutschlisch word if there ever was one.
Clearly, language purity seems an unattainable dream.