Engelsk i dansk og risikoen for domænetab: Med fokus på det teknisk-naturvidenskabelige domæne

Christina Svane

Student thesis: Master thesis


Danish has been under heavy influence from English over the past decades. In Denmark, it is therefore often debated whether the spread of English poses a threat to the Danish language. However, the debate tends to focus on language for general purposes, which is insufficient in regards to the discussion on domain loss. Domain loss is the situation where a language loses its ability to meet the communicative needs within a specific subject field. Consequently, the aim of this thesis is to examine the English influence on Danish within the domain of natural science and technology, which is a field that is often said to be highly affected by English. The empirical data consists of an electronic corpus containing 140 articles from the Danish trade journal 'Ingeniøren'. All the articles fall under the topic of green cars. The English influence in the corpus is examined by means of the concordance program MonoConc Pro, which allows the English impact to be measured quantitatively. The types of influence examined are lexical and grammatical influence. The analysis of the lexical influence shows that English loanwords make up no more than 1.3 % of the total number of words in the articles examined. This result is consistent with previous studies although these were made ten to fifteen years ago and examined Danish language for general purposes. The analysis also shows a preference for loanwords partly or entirely consisting of Danish morphemes. The analysis and discussion of the English impact on Danish grammar is based on Sørensen (1995) and Borg (2000). It shows that some areas of Danish grammar are highly affected by English including reduced relative clauses, verb + particle and premodification. However, most areas are either unaffected or only modestly affected. The thesis also discusses whether the domain of natural science and technology is affected by English to a degree that it is now faced with the risk of domain loss. Based on the empirical analysis and discussion, my conclusion is that the domain of natural science and technology is not currently threatened by domain loss. However, the discussion on domain loss shows that it is difficult to predict how the situation will evolve in the future. Some linguists argue that the English influence strengthens the Danish language (Larsen 1999, and to a certain extent Gottlieb 2009); others see it as a threat in terms of domain loss (Jarvad 2001 and Davidsen-Nielsen 2004); while still others perceive it as a transition to parallel language use (Ravnholt 2008). In the thesis, it is therefore emphasized that the linguistic development should be kept under careful observation to ensure that it is not moving towards domain loss. Moreover, the thesis stresses the importance of determining the extent of English influence required for domain loss to occur. At the moment this remains undetermined, which is likely to result in domains wrongfully being declared lost. This in turn may lead to specific domains being declared lost so many times that the gravity of the situation will not be recognized should a domain indeed be faced by the threat of domain loss.

EducationsMA in International Business Communication (Intercultural Marketing), (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2010
Number of pages102