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Crossing the lexicon: Anglicisms in the German hip hop community

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Title: Crossing the lexicon: Anglicisms in the German hip hop community
Author(s): Garley, Matthew
Director of Research: Terkourafi, Marina
Doctoral Committee Chair(s): Terkourafi, Marina
Doctoral Committee Member(s): Hockenmaier, Julia; Bhatt, Rakesh; Hock, Hans Henrich; Androutsopoulos, Jannis
Department / Program: Linguistics
Discipline: Linguistics
Degree Granting Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree: Ph.D.
Genre: Dissertation
Subject(s): Linguistics Sociolinguistics Corpus analysis German rap Language attitude Language ideology Word dynamics Orthography Internet forums Language change Language contact
Abstract: The influence of English on German has been an ongoing subject of intense popular and academic interest in the German sphere. In order to better understand this language contact situation, this research project investigates anglicisms—instances of English language material in a German language context—in the German hip hop community, where the use of novel anglicisms is especially frequent. This investigation takes a methodologically diverse approach, including complementary corpus, sociolinguistic, and ethnographic analyses. In this dissertation, I focus primarily on an original 12.5-million-word German-language corpus of hip hop discussions from the Internet forums at MZEE.com which includes 11 years of computer-mediated discourse. I supplement these data with an English-language hip hop discussion corpus and a set of ethnographic interviews conducted with hip hop fans and artists in Hamburg in the summer of 2010. I first detail the development of a computational classifier which identifies novel anglicisms in the MZEE.com corpus with high accuracy, yielding a list of 850 frequent anglicisms which is in turn used to identify unexpected wordforms—those which have a non-canonical morphological or orthographic nativization. Through an exploration of the linguistic properties, frequency, and distribution of these forms, I demonstrate the close link between orthographic, morphological, and phonological expressions of these anglicisms and argue that these forms are the result of extraordinary interaction of German and English linguistic-orthographic rules. The next analysis investigates the diachronic fate of anglicisms in the MZEE corpus, finding that frequency in an initial time window is significantly, and negatively, correlated with change in frequency for the set of 850 anglicisms—and this correlation is much stronger for anglicisms than for native German words, indicating the limited shelf life of anglicisms' stylistic utility, a situation corroborated by the subsequent analysis of ethnographic interviews with linguistic actors in the German hip hop community. That analysis reveals systematic and enduring constellations of attitudes toward German, English, and the use of anglicisms which interact with what I term the standard language ideology complex for German (including the related ideologies of the standard language, language purism, and Herderian ideology)—finding a surprising basis of linguistic conservatism which, even when opposed by individual actors, seems to reliably frame metalinguistic discourses. In combination, these findings, 1) that the nativization of anglicism wordforms is rule-governed, even when it appears haphazard or disruptive; 2) that many novel anglicisms seem to have a limited timeframe of popularity; and 3) that the standard language ideology complex and other related ideological stances toward anglicisms are dominant, even in a subcultural community where English material is ubiquitous and linguistic 'resistance' is hypothesized; suggest that concerns about the imminent decline or loss of the German language are (to borrow from Mark Twain, an infamous student of the language) 'an exaggeration'.
Issue Date: 2012-09-18
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2142/34472
Rights Information: Copyright 2012 Matthew E. Garley
Date Available in IDEALS: 2012-09-18
Date Deposited: 2012-08
 

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