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How words behave in other languages

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Abstract

This paper undertakes a systematic investigation into the use of German Nazi vocabulary in English. Nazi vocabulary is checked for frequency of occurrence in a large web corpus of English and then, where it occurs, for reference to Nazi discourse. Next, its frequency is compared to similar French and German web corpora, showing whether or not the use of Nazi vocabulary outside German is unique to English and whether or not its current usage differs between German and the borrowing languages. Finally, the use of two words that occur with similar frequencies in all three languages – judenrein and Blitzkrieg – and of two words that occur there with the highest difference in frequency – Anschluss and Lebensraum – is investigated in detail by means of the Sketch Engine corpus tool, including an analysis of collocations which indicate contexts of usage. The results can inform further research into lexical borrowing by demonstrating that borrowed words may be used in ways that differ notably from their use in the donor language.
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Keywords: German; Germanisms; Nazi vocabulary; corpus-assisted methodology; frequency; lexical borrowing

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 26, 2018

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