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Mailhammer, Robert (2008): The wolf in sheep's clothing: Camouflaged borrowing in Modern German. In: Folia Linguistica, Vol. 42, No. 1: pp. 177-193 [PDF, 369kB]


This article addresses a phenomenon of language contact that has not received much attention in mainstream contact linguistics, namely borrowing via a mechanism Zuckermann (2003) calls MULTISOURCED NEOLOGISATION. Multisourced neologisation is a subtype of Zuckermann's larger class of CAMOUFLAGED BORROWING, and constitutes a special form of calquing in which the calque is phonetically similar to the source language material: It has much in common with folk etymology and is sometimes identified with it, but there are good theoretical reasons to keep the two phenomena apart. Though German is well known for its calquing ability, the application of this special type of calquing has gone virtually unnoticed in the literature as well as in the ongoing public debate over the excessive influx of loanwords. This paper shows that multisourced neologisation is not uncommon in the integration of elements borrowed from English into German, and argues that factors favouring its use include lexical and structural congruities between both languages as well as the relatively high transparency of English to the average speaker of German. Thus, though German does not belong to the protypical language groups using multisourced neologisation that are described by Zuckermann (2003), special circumstances prompt the application of this and other methods of camouflaged borrowing.

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