Engelsk i dansk: En empirisk undersøgelse af tendensen til anglicismer blandt tre danske befolkningsgrupper

Anita Godsk Waaben

Student thesis: Master thesis


I decided to do a study on the usage of Anglicisms in the Danish language. I was inspired to choose this subject by the language debate which has been going on for some time in Denmark and by the fact that several language experts, politicians etc. often accuse the Danish people of using too many Anglicisms when they speak Danish. These people believe that the Danish language is in danger of being more or less replaced by English. The purpose of this thesis is to study whether or not it applies for all Danish population groups that they use Anglicisms when they speak Danish or if it is possible to trace a tendency to use Anglicisms in some population groups rather than others. My problem statement consists of two parts: Do some Danish population groups tend to use more English words and expressions as well as English sentence constructions translated directly into Danish, than other Danish population groups? Does a person with high English skills typically use more Anglicisms when he speaks Danish? Or is it the other way around? My theory is that some Danish population groups use more Anglicisms than others and that a person with high English skills and who is exposed to English on a daily basis (group 2) will be more likely to use Anglicisms than a person with a poor knowledge of English (group 1). However, a person with both high English and Danish skills (group 3) is capable of separating English and Danish and avoiding the usage of Anglicisms. Before moving on to the actual study, I thought it would be interesting to have a look at what could be the reasons for some Danish people using Anglicisms and what problem areas could be related to the usage of Anglicisms. A large number of the Anglicisms is probably due to the increasing impact which the American culture has had on the Danish culture through the years, in terms of food, music, movies etc. Another factor could be the globalization, i.e. the fact that many large international companies have settled in Denmark. Many Danes are now employed in international companies where the corporate language and the majority of the technical terminology is English and some of the colleagues are foreign. Some of the problem areas related to this are that some language experts and others believe that it causes the Danish language to deteriorate. These people are also very much against English being used as the principal language of instruction in Denmark, and they point out domain loss as one of the most important reasons to stop the Anglification of Danish. Based on literature describing the best methods to conduct an empiric study of e.g. a certain behavior or tendency in a society, I decided to test my theory by interviewing three groups of 10 people – each group belonging to the three above-mentioned population groups, respectively. I transcribed the interviews afterwards and highlighted all the Anglicisms used in each interview. I then compared these data to some of the literature I had read in connection with my thesis, including a table outlining the different categories and types of Anglicisms. This made it easier for me to get an overview of how many Anglicisms each of the three groups used in total and what types of Anglicisms they used. This way, I could analyze whether or not there could be a reason to fear that the Danish language is vanishing in favor of English due to e.g. domain loss. The results of my study do only meet my expectations to a certain degree. I only expected group 2 to use Anglicisms. However, group 1 and 2 proved to be very similar in their way of using the Danish language. The majority of the people in both groups used Anglicisms and in total, a fair amount of Anglicisms was used in both groups. However, group 3 did not use nearly as many Anglicisms as the two other groups, which was what I expected. Thus, I can conclude that there is a difference in how the three Danish population groups I have chosen for my thesis use the Danish language. Furthermore, a person with high English skills does not necessarily tend to use Anglicisms, but on the other hand, a poor knowledge of English does not necessarily cause a person to avoid Anglicisms.

EducationsMA in International Business Communication (Intercultural Marketing), (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2010
Number of pages107