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Anglicisms in contemporary Spanish. An overview (1).


1.1. Chronology of intensive influences

The history of cultural exchanges between Spain and other countries is well reflected in the foreign terms borrowed into Spanish. For much of the Middle Ages, Arabic was--after Latin--the language which provided Spanish with the most loanwords--more than 4,000 words. From the 15th to the 17th century, and most particularly during the Renaissance, Spain imported many "learned" words, especially from Italian; in the 18th, with the advent of the Bourbon dynasty, French gained the upper hand, and its influence continued through the 19th century up until our times; in the 19th century, coinciding with the emergence of Britain as a world power, English began to exert a significant influence on Spanish as well as on other European languages, and this influence increased as time went on, replacing French as the main source of foreign loans.

Before the 18th century, English loanwords were very scarce. They were imported in small numbers generally through French mediation. The names of the cardinal points (norte, sud--a variant of sur--, este and oeste) were probably the first loans borrowed, attested between 1431 and 1607. The 17th century gave us dogo (1644 <dog) and the 18th puritano, bote (<boat), ponche (<punch) and ron (<rum). All these words are now completely assimilated and almost impossible to recognize as English except by etymologists.

Taking into account the most relevant Anglo-Spanish cultural and language contacts, the following main stages of lexical borrowing can be established:

1. In the 18th century, and even more so in the first half of the 19th century, the influence of English literature and social and cultural life in Britain had its first impact on Spanish intellectuals. In the second half of the 18th century English started to be taught at some schools, the first English grammar and the first bilingual dictionary were published in Spain, and the first translations from English into Spanish were done by well-known literary persons such as Cadalso, Jovellanos and Moratin.

There were also personal contacts with British culture through other men of letters like Blanco White, Espronceda and Duque de Rivas, who immigrated to England as political exiles as a result of the absolutist regime of Fernando VII after 1814. With them, "anglicisms" appeared in various publications--the Spanish word anglicismo itself is attested as early as 1848 (cf. Fernandez Garcia 1970: 25), and in an earlier form, anglismo, since 1784 (cf. Lorenzo 1996: 13).

2. In the 19th century, especially in the last quarter, the English influence intensified as a result of the technological developments of the Industrial Revolution, thus giving rise to designations in various fields such as transport and clothmaking. Of even greater lexical import were the borrowings related to social life: the late 19th century and early 20th century saw the first important wave of anglicisms in many domains such as music, dance, drinks, dress, breeds of dogs, motorcars, and especially sports. During this period, people started to play or to hear about sports such as football, golf, polo, tennis, horse-racing, boxing and hockey and became familiar with some of the English terminology. Spanish society remained relatively open to English influences until the Civil War (1936-39) when the country experienced a period of linguistic chauvinism and political isolationism which lasted until the early fifties during the first stage of Franco's dictatorship.

3. After World War II, more precisely after 1950, the impact of English became massive. The first sign of the break with political isolationism was the establishment of American military bases in Rota and Torrejon de Ardoz (Madrid) in the early fifties; this was the first physical contact with the so-called 'American way of life'. In the sixties, contact was widened under a technocratic cabinet; this was reflected in tourism which reached its peak and was given its own ministry. Spanish coasts became the favourite site for British tourists, some of whom decided to settle permanently on the Costa Blanca, Ibiza, or the Costa del Sol in particular. The British Isles, and especially London, also became the most popular place for 'modern' young Spaniards to visit.

In the seventies, with dictatorship lingering on, the more radical and politically conscious youth were attracted by the North-American underground movement which made an imprint in Spanish marginal literature (comix, fanzines, etc.). Two of their basic themes, drugs and music (especially rock), became important sources of inspiration and of new words (cf. Rodriguez 1989:153-55). The oral media (TV and FM radio programmes) and journalism (humour magazines, and newsmagazines such as Cambio 16) contributed to this development.

The seventies and especially the eighties saw the emergence of new technical fields such as computers, and the nineties brought the Internet, with growing numbers of users and its characteristically anglicized jargon. Moreover, media coverage of sports (aerobics, windsurfing, baseball, golf, etc.) increased in popularity; much of their jargon was and is English.

Therefore, the importance of anglicisms, as a source of new words in present-day Spanish, is easy to understand. According to Mighetto (1991: 181), 2.7% of the lexis used in the newspaper El Pais is of foreign provenance. If we now consider that more than half of the foreign terms are of English origin, anglicisms form some 2% of the overall vocabulary of journalism. Another study on the speech of educated people from Madrid revealed 291 anglicisms out of a total 16,897 items, which represents 1.73% of the lexis (Quilis 1984:413).

1.2. Origins of influence

Although one can assume a general decline of the influence of BrE after the war and an increasing dominance of AmE, as in other languages the identity of the forms and the borrowing of many Americanisms through the mediation of BrE make it impossible to differentiate between Briticisms and American words. However, some terms have a distinctively British or American cultural reference. Thus, porridge, cottage, bed and breakfast, cricket, Beatle can be counted as "foreignisms" used with a predominantly British reference (sometimes defined more specifically as "xenismos" in Spanish linguistic jargon), and in the early part of the 20th century, soccer terminology (gol, corner, penalty) was introduced as a British invention. Similarly, after World War II anglicisms have a particularly American stamp in the domains of technology and youth subcultures, e.g., motel, hippie, freak, flower power, grunge and reality show.

Occasionally, two or more synonyms of different origin are borrowed at different stages, such as the early BrE form jersey and the later and prestigious AmE sweater (more frequently in its adapted form sueter), which may also have slight differences in meaning (cf. Gomez Capuz 1997b: 467-9).

1.3. Types of influence

English contact with Spanish can influence all levels of language. It is most visible in spelling, pronunciation, morphology and lexis, and is hardly noticeable in semantics see section 4 below), pragmatics and syntax.

Take-overs in the domain of syntax (for example the misuse of prepositions and verbal forms) will not be examined here, but there is a consensus among grammarians that they are the most 'harmful' to a language. Moreover, there is an unconscious tendency, notably in translation, to make frequent use of constructions which are especially frequent in English (e.g., forming adverbs in --mente, such as basicamente from basically) neglecting the native counterparts (such as en el fondo). This phenomenon, known as "frequency anglicisms", has been studied in detail by Vazquez Ayora (1977).

In the last few decades, the influence of English on Spanish has invaded unexpected terrain, such as typography. Among the innovations are the frequent capitalisation of initials in titles and headings (Rodriguez 1997), and the occasional use of the slash to indicate a disjunctive, y/o, from E. and/or (Lorenzo 1988), and some symbols: & for the copulative conjunction y "and", and the logographic [love] for (yo) amo "(I) love" (Rodriguez and Lillo 1997).

A comprehensive study of English influences on Spanish should also take into account paralinguistic elements and other signs of non-verbal communication, such as the use of the index and middle finger to mark the v of 'victory', the thumb and index finger to form a circle, etc. (Lorenzo 1995: 174).

1.4. Chronology of purist phases

The adoption of foreign terms in Spanish, and in particular the influx of loans from English, has traditionally met with opposition of linguists and lexicographers as well as of social and political institutions. The criticism levelled against anglicisms (and also acronyms) is basically founded in their exotic nature.

Foreign terms should be considered not only from a purely linguistic perspective but also from a more social angle. They are bound to introduce special connotations related to the idiosyncrasy of their speakers and the political position of the donor country. Thus anglicisms evoke the hegemony of Anglo-Saxon countries, especially the United States, in the international community, and this may trigger markedly purist (nationalist) attitudes.

The massive impact of foreign languages on Spanish, first of French and later of English, has led to various strong purist and nationalist reactions which can be correlated with some of the periods mentioned above:

1a. Prior to the 18th century, Latin was a prestigious model which contributed to the formation of a standard Spanish language and its renovation. There were reactions against the misuse and overuse of loanwords, but not against 'necessary' new words or expressions. Given the close genetic relations to the mother tongue, Latin loanwords were not perceived as really 'foreign'.

The first strong reactions against foreign elements were felt in response to the avalanche of French loanwords in the 18th century. France, and in particular its capital Paris, became the favourite place to visit for the affluent of the time. But that century also saw the birth of a concern for the purity of the national language among men of letters, who objected to the excessive number of gallicisms which were thought to corrupt the language. These views led to the foundation of the Real Academia Espanola (1713), which received strong official support and quickly published its first dictionary, the so-called Diccionario de autoridades (1726-39). This criticism was puristic rather than nationalistic and chauvinistic, even though a war of Independence was declared against the French troops and a French--and therefore foreign--dynasty (the Bourbons). Throughout the 19th century, this influence was a normal pattern and when anglicisms first appeared they were not identified as such, as they were mostly mediated by French. Words such as biftec, dandy and tilbury were considered gallicisms.

2a. Dictatorial regimes tend to be particularly hostile to the use of foreign loans. In 1927, under the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera, foreign signs were banned so that a famous cabaret in Barcelona, the Royal Concert, came to be called Real Concierto. Years later, after the Civil War and up until 1950, the Home Ministry of the Franco regime issued regulations against the use of foreign words, especially in the field of sports. As a result, a good number fell into disuse: encuentro replaced match, defensa replaced back, and locutor replaced speaker, but the attempt was not successful in the case of coctel (combinado), sandwich (emparedado), record (marca), and football (balompie).

3a The regime eased its restrictions in the age of modernization after the sixties. But the unexpected avalanche of foreign terms which followed was felt to be a heavy burden by certain language-conscious people. As a result, new purist tendencies arose among academics and men of letters, who exaggeratedly referred to Spain as a colony of the United States. The articles by Salvador de Madariaga (1962) and Alfaro's dictionary (published in Spain in 1964) are the best exponents of this view. More moderate views were held by other prominent academics such as Lapesa, Lorenzo and Seco, reflected in more liberal policies towards the inclusion of foreignisms in some dictionaries.

1.5 Geographic differences

The intensity of English influence in this century was strongly felt first in the Latin American countries which, to a greater extent, were subject to economic and political dependence on the United States (Mexico, the Antilles, and Central America), and later in other countries including the more distant Spain. Thus, in Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Panama, Guatemala, Costa Rica, and Mexico--countries close to the U.S.--the English term folder is used, whereas the more remote areas of Venezuela, Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina and Spain employ the native equivalent carpeta (cf. Marrone 1974). However, distance is not the only factor. Nationalistic and chauvinistic attitudes are also relevant, as is illustrated by the example of Cuba where the number of anglicisms is still considerably smaller than elsewhere in the region.

On the other hand, the intense cultural contacts of modern times diminish distances to such an extent that the old Bloomfieldian dichotomy between cultural and intimate borrowings has lost part of its validity. In light of this, one should not be surprised if further research came to reveal that the large body of English terms found in present-day Peninsular Spanish does not differ significantly from that found in other compilations done in countries of the Southern Hemisphere such as Argentina or Chile.

Despite this increasing uniformity, some peculiarities survive, especially in the case of words mediated by French. Given the proximity and the intensity of cultural contacts between Spain and France, French-influenced variants tend to prevail in Peninsular Spanish, e.g. Fr. partenaire, dopage, and cognac are more often used than English partner, doping and brandy. The same is true for calques; thus, whereas French has been the model for the Peninsular Spanish terms ordenador (<ordinateur 'computer'), horas punta (<heures de pointe), papel higienico (<papier higienique 'toilet paper'), Asuntos Exteriores (<Affaires etrangeres), premio (<premium), English has been the model for the equivalent South American expressions computador (<computer), horas pico (<peak hours), papel toilette (<toilet paper), Relaciones Exteriores (<Foreign Relations), etc. (cf. Haensch 1995: 224).

1.6 Stylistic differences

The majority of anglicisms have, from the beginning, occurred in technical registers, especially in writing. The range of technical fields is wide: anglicisms are found in science as well as in popular jargons of sports and leisure activities. There are also borrowings with a more colloquial and unconventional flavour from many fields, most frequently found in journalese (including political columns and the underground press) and in youth language, from where they may seep into the general language. The reasons for their use are both denotative or referential and connotative or expressive. Some users, particularly journalists, employ nonce borrowings for stylistic reasons, in cases of code-switching, or with a clear humorous intention. Nonce expressions, because of their idiolectal and ad-hoc nature, are subject to criticism, disqualifying their inclusion in dictionaries (cf. Rodriguez 1996).

1.7. Innovation and obsolescence

In his study of anglicisms from the period 1891 to 1936, Fernandez Garcia (1970) includes 816 entries, to which many unlemmatized derivatives could be added. Alfaro's oft-quoted dictionary of Spanish includes more items--around 1.200--, but does not discriminate between terms from South American and Peninsular Spanish usage, the latter being poorly represented.

More interesting are the statistical accounts provided by dictionaries of foreign words which allow us to weigh the relative influence of English in regard to other foreign influences. Perez Rioja's (1990) study of Spanish language in the 1920s provides valuable statistics for what is considered to be the first important stage in the history of English borrowings. He records 162 anglicisms against 125 gallicisms, which seems to show that a shift to English had already occurred in some fields, notably sports (cf. Gomez Capuz 1996: 1293). These figures are revealing since it has been traditionally assumed that it was not until the 1950s that Spanish began to borrow more terms from English than from French (cf. Pratt 1980: 51, Haensch 1995: 243).

In the second part of this century, the dominance of English is well established. Alzugaray's Diccionario de extranjerismos (1988) lists 2,400 terms, of which 1,301 (that is, 54%) are borrowed from English, vs. 667 (27.8%) from French, well ahead of Latin (4.3%), a ratio which is particularly significant given the Romance character of the Spanish language. A recent account by Gomez Torrego (1992) lists 633 foreign terms, of which 389 are anglicisms (Gomez Capuz 1994: 468), raising the percentage of English loans to 61.4/%.

The items contained in a fairly exhaustive recent dictionary by Rodriguez and Lillo, the Nuevo diccionario de anglicismos of 1997, far exceed those figures. It lists more than 2,800 entries, including certain morphological variants and derivatives as well as loans which have lost their Englishness.

With time, words become obsolete; thus, a count of Fernandez Garcia's study will tell us that out of 816 anglicisms, 315 (38,6%) are no longer current. Some items have been reborrowed with different or added meanings: baby, cutter, stick, leggins, meeting, mister, sandwich, or they have reappeared as fashionable equivalents such as basketball and volleyball, which had long been replaced by native terms (baloncesto and balonvolea respectively).

1.8. Mediating languages

In the past a good number of terms whose ultimate etymon is English were borrowed in Spanish through the mediation of a neighbouring language. It was through French that Spanish imported biftec/bistec (<beefsteak), confort (<comfort), lugre (via Fr. lougre <lugger) redingote (<riding goat), vagon (<waggon). In the majority of cases, the accent shifted from the first to other syllables as well as graphemic and morphological adaptation betray French mediation. In other items, the English look of the word (cf. footing, smoking, still co-occurring along with futin and esmoquin and transmitted through French) makes this recognition more difficult.

Morphological similarity between two languages can cause ambivalence, variation, or faulty etymological interpretations. Thus bunker is a germanism when used in the political field and an anglicism in golf terminology; kindergarten is a germanism also handed down as an anglicism in the form kindergarden; handball, now known through its calque balonmano, is regarded by many as an anglicism, although originally it seems to come from German Handball (Lorenzo 1996), and the same occurs with rimmel 'mascara', included as an anglicism in most dictionaries but which in actual fact is a German eponym derived from the 19th-century cosmetologist Eugene Rimmel.

Moving towards the Romance languages, Latin is also morphologically similar to a language like Spanish, which disguises the English origin of video, multinacional, veredicto (cf. Pratt 1980: 145, and Lorenzo 1995: 169). As neo-Latin internationalisms, they are usually not included in dictionaries of anglicisms.

1.9. English in schools

The notable increase of English loanwords after 1945 was also connected with the introduction and spread of English in Spanish education, both at the secondary school and university levels. In the fifties, English was taught as an optional first foreign language in secondary schools to no more than 5% of students, whereas those who studied French exceeded 90% (cf. Lorenzo 1996: 17). Today the situation is reversed: English has rapidly pushed French into a modest second place. At the universities, English Philology, introduced in the curriculum in 1953, has become the 'queen' of foreign philologies. Besides, many courses are taught at academies and by private tutors based on a general belief that unfamiliarity with this language is a sign of functional illiteracy in today's world which hinders accessibility to certain posts.


2.1. Pronunciation

The pronunciation of English loans varies greatly; it depends on the age of the loan, its degree of linguistic and social integration, the channel of transmission (oral/written), and some sociolinguistic variables such as the age and education of its users. Most important, however, are the differences in the phonological system of the two languages and the articulation of some individual sounds. Thus, the fricatives /[integral], 3, v, h/, the affricate /d3/ and the final velar /[eta]/ do not occur in Spanish. Some are rendered systematically in Spanish with minor or hardly any phonetic change: the opposition /z/ vs. /s/ is neutralized, the [z] being devoiced as in jazz [jas]; the <v> is pronounced [b], as in vip [[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IM ASCII.]], the final velar /[eta]/ is usually pronounced /n/, as in footing [[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IM ASCII.]] and smoking [[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IM ASCII.]]; and initial /h/ always shifts to [x], sometimes reflected in the spelling (jobi, joldin, etc.).

The pronunciation of the sibilant /[integral]/ varies between /[integral]/ and /s/ in minishort [[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.]], and between /[integral]/ and /t[integral]/ sometimes reflected in spelling (sheriff/cherif, show/chou). The initial affricate /d3/ is pronounced with the semiconsonant /j/, in judo [[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.]] and optionally /d3/ in jazz [d3as, jas] , jumbo [[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.]] , discjockey [[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.]]. Occasionally there is a /j/--/x/ alternation, as in manager ['manajer, ma'naxer], jeans [jms,, xeans] , the /x/ phoneme being an obvious spelling pronunciation in speakers unfamiliar with English.

There are also phonotactic constraints in Spanish such as in clusters with initial [s-] (sl-, sm-, sp-, st-). This presents a problem for language teaching but it does not affect the borrowing process. The solution is generally the insertion of a prothetic e- ([es'tand, es'tandar], etc.), the preservation of the English pronunciation usually being regarded as a sign of affectation.

Some consonants in Spanish do not occur in final position: /b, d, f, g, m, p, t/. Variation is hardly noticeable when the consonant remains voiced (m in boom [[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.]], but not when it is devoiced. This is particularly noticeable in inflection or suffixation. English pub gives Spanish plural pubes (as used in the ABC newspaper, by analogy with clubes) and the derivative pafeto, and two variants are derived from English speed (espidico and espitoso), following a process analogous to Madrid [[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.]] in the pair madridista y matritense (cf. Rodriguez 1994: 193).

Consonant clusters are sometimes simplified: compact ['kompak], gangster ['ganster], minishort [[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.]]; the reduction may depend on various factors related to style (informal or hypercorrected) and the education and profession of the speaker. Here variation is also reflected in the derivational process: standard [es'tandard, es'tandar] -> estandardizacion/estandarizacion; flash [fla[integral], flas] -> flashear/flasear, etc.

Another source of variation is the combination [wa], which is pronounced in three different ways, viz. as [w], walkie-talkie [[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.]], the cultivated variant; as [g], humorous gualquitalqui [[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.]]; or as [b], systematically pronounced that way in water ['bater], sometimes written with phonetic spelling (vater). In water-polo most people pronounce [wa-] in order to avoid confusion with water ['bater] 'toilet'.

The lack of agreement between pronunciation and spelling in English leads to variation in some anglicisms. Thus, English <ce>, <ci> and <z> are pronounced with a sibilant, and in Spanish with an alveolar or interdental fricative (city [[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.]], la City--el Intercity [[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.]], iceberg [[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.]], magazine [[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.]]).

Greater variation is found with letters representing vowels and vowel combinations. Some are pronounced close to English (funky [[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.]], bacon [[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.]], off-side [[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.]]); others follow the Spanish system (yuppy [[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.]], eye-liner [[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.]], close-up [[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.]]). There is also some variation: punk [[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.]] , punky [[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.]]], bacon [[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.]], gay is pronounced [[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.]] and [[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.]].

The most striking variation is found in borrowings which contain [[lambda]]. This phoneme, which does not exist in Spanish, seems to be perceived differently by individual speakers. Also, the <u> suggests [??] for Spanish speakers. Not surprisingly, four different spellings are attested for [[lambda]]:
   <o>: broshing (<brushing), yonqui (<junkie)
   <u>: punqui/punki (<punk)
   <a>: namberguan (<number one), fanqui (<funky)
   <e>: nember guan (<number one)

In a few examples, the Spanish choice is clearly determined by the need to avoid a homonymic clash. Thus in yonqui, <a>, which would have been the most natural option, was avoided because of the previous existence of yanqui 'North-American'. In golf putting [[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IM ASCII.]] or [[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.]] contrasts with the derivative verb 'to strike a golf ball gently' which is potear in SAm Spanish and patear in European Spanish forms, which avoid the embarrassing homonymy with the word putear ('to be a nuisance', from puta 'whore').

Now, even more interesting or relevant than this, from a sociolinguistic point of view, is to consider the various sociocultural factors which correlate with this variation. In general terms, we can speak about two phonological variants: a) the English, or, more exactly, the closer to the English pronunciation ([[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.]], [[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.]]) which is linked to more cultivated speakers or to speakers who are more familiar with English, and b) the popular un English variant which sounds more 'Spanish", --[[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.]], [[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.]]-- and is conditioned directly by the written form.

This explanation is somewhat simplistic: we should also consider the age, the channel, subject matter, and the education and socioeconomic status of the speaker and of the addressee. Thus, one can understand why many TV adverts are pronounced according to Spanish usage, like close-up [[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.]], since they are addressed to the general public, including many housewives and people from the working class. By contrast, in the world of fashion and music, we often hear the pronunciation fanqui, the form also attested in a magazine read by the young, and found in the slang term jipifanqui (Ramoncin).

The word bacon is also illuminating from a sociolinguistic point of view. It is normally pronounced [[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.]] among cultivated speakers, which contrasts with [ba'kon] heard from some working-class housewives shopping in the market. The same is true of the spelling. Bacon can be found on the menu of some fairly refined restaurants, but the 'Boutique del Jamon' on the Explanada in Alicante advertises beicon.

The time factor may cut across social and education distinctions. Many early loans were borrowed from written English, the pronunciation being Spanish: spray [[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.]], picu (from pick up), radar [[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.]], flirt [[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.]]. By contrast, more recent borrowings are from spoken English; they include girl [gel], pick up [[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.]] 'a kind of truck', play [[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.]] (in playback, playboy, etc). Recent borrowings preserve the English spelling and pronunciation as a result of the growing familiarity with English.

As for word stress, there are relatively few differences, although some terms show some deviation or variation, e.g., radar, bacon, pick up, bungalow, drugstore (2).

2.2. Graphemic integration

Although there are notable differences in the graphemic system of English and Spanish, the English spelling is readily accepted especially in early loans. The foreignness of anglicisms results from the existence of unusual letters (<k> and <w>) and letter combinations (<sh, wh, chr, oa, ou>), and double vowel (<oo, ee>) and consonant graphemes (<bb, nn> etc.). In due course, many loans are adapted to Spanish rules, as shown by the substitution of <c> for <k> and <v, g> for <w> and the simplification of combinations. Recently, there has also been a tendency to retain the spelling. As a result of these conditioning factors, both from a synchronic and diachronic perspective, there are many cases in which the English spelling and its Spanish adaptation have coexisted for a long time: folklore/folclore, smoking/ esmoquin; water/vater; boomerang/bumeran.

The choice of a particular variant is not made randomly, and various stylistic, semantic and sociolinguistic factors can be distinguished.

Graphemic/morphophonological adaptation is linked with popular and informal usage, and with the slang of certain sociolects and technolects. By contrast, the English term is preserved in formal and literary language, as illustrated by bungalow/bungalo, flash/ flas, joint/yoin, junkie/yonqui, office/ofis, travelling/ travelin (in the film jargon) and whisky/ guisqui.

At times, style and register differentiation is linked with a change of meaning which is usually associated with the adapted Spanish term, whereas the English spelling retains the original meaning, e.g.: K.O. 'knocked out', in boxing)/cao ('flustered' [= Spanish aturdido]), sheriff 'a US official' /cherif 'boss', speech 'speech' [= Spanish discurso]) /espich(e) 'lecture', fam. [= Spanish perorata, rollo]), baby 'child'/babi 'pinafore', a school term.

Occasionally, this pattern of semantic differentiation is reversed so that an anglicism adapted in the past with a specialized meaning has recently been reintroduced with the original English spelling and a new meaning which is more in accordance with English usage; e.g., legui (military jargon) /legging (women's clothes), mitin (politics) /meeting (athletics), estique (sculpture) /stick (golf, cosmetics, publicity). It seems as if the spelling difference of these anglicisms is used to clarify the meaning (cf. English discreet and discrete, human and humane).

The stylistic differences associated with mere spelling adaptations are highlighted in modern journalism: a newspaper distinguishes two major classes of information known as "news" (that is, basically informative) and "comment" (basically interpretative). The first is in a more formal style, and foreign terms are preserved in their original form. The second, which encompasses sections which are humorous, is more informal and thus receptive to colloquialisms and phonetic spellings. This is a striking phenomenon which can be noticed in the columns of well-known journalists. The informal style and the satirical or iconoclastic tone lead to experiments with new forms such as biuti and biutiful (< E. beautiful people), esqu~sch (sketch), joldin (holding). These adapted forms start as idiolectal spellings, but sometimes they get established in the language, as illustrated by biuti which has become popular among journalists.

Another level of stylistic variation contrasts the headline and the body of the text (occasionally the marked or more unusual form is used in the headline).

Sometimes semantic differentiation correlates with graphemic variation as in football/futbol. During the 1994 world soccer championship there were frequent references in the press to futbol 'soccer', as opposed to football, understood as 'American football'.

Finally, not all graphemic variation is a product of graphic and phonetic adaptations of the original form. Sometimes the writer hypercorrects, as when establishment and Foreign Office are sometimes spelt stablishment and Foreing Office. Likewise, candy (in azdcar candy) is mistaken as English and accordingly spelt with final -y. Similarly, Spanish vermu(t) and its French source vermout are sometimes substituted by English vermouth (3).


The majority of anglicisms in Spanish are nouns. As they become integrated they can pose problems in the assignment of gender and number. Verbs and adjectives, which show less capacity for inflection, are found less frequently.

3.1. Nouns


The assignment of gender is very simple for anglicisms with animate reference, for which natural sex is decisive (e.g. una starlet = Spanish pequena estrella, f.; un/una disc jockey = Spanish pinchadiscos, m./f.), but it is much more complicated with inanimate referents. There are cases in which the choice depends on phonology and morphology (e.g., words ending in -er and -ing and monosyllables ending in consonants are mainly masculine) but usually the allocation is based on semantic criteria.

However, these can conflict at times, which leads to a great deal of fluctuation because of the complex nature of the associative process involved. The underlying concept and the importance of analogy is established by synonyms and illustrated by alternative articles distinguishing meanings, as in el speed (= 'narcotico, estupefaciente' [=E. 'drug, narcotic']) /la speed ('droga'), el cannabis (='narcotico, estupefaciente') /1a cannabis ('droga') el American way of life (='modo', 'estilo') /la American way of life ('manera, forma'), el sex-shop (='comercio') /la sex-shop (='tienda'), los girl-strips ('comics') /las girl strips ('historietas.), la gang (='banda', 'pandilla') /el gang (= 'grupo').

Sometimes the fluctuation is found in anglicisms as a consequence of different Spanish words considered synonyms/equivalents. Thus the -ing form, which almost invariably is associated with the masculine paradigm (el jogging, el surfing, etc.), is variable in el action painting (=estilo, expresionismo abstracto, arte) /la action painting (=accion, pintura).

The importance and the conflicting nature of such associations explains why fluctuations in the assignment of gender go unnoticed and may be taken as journalistic licence.

On a diachronic level, we notice a shift of gender from the feminine to the masculine, which is the unmarked term, despite the strong associations with feminine concepts (el party 'fiesta', el gang 'pandilla', el speed 'droga', etc.). By contrast, we have a very singular case in (el) jet set which in the 1970s was the only form found but which now has been replaced by the feminine, probably by association with (1a) jet society.


Most patent anglicisms end in a consonant (pin, scaner or escaner, slogan or eslogan) and, because of their strange or exotic morphology, form the plural in three different ways: by simply adding -s (pins, escaners, slogans), or its allomorph -es (pines, escaneres, esloganes, faxes), or by using a zero morph (los pin, los fax).

Most anglicisms retain the English plural, fewer are used with zero inflection, and fewer still with Spanish -es. There is a certain correlation, then, between some forms of the plural and the degree of integration. Thus, los faxes might appear as more integrated than los fax.

Unfortunately, newspaper stylebooks are not always uniform. El Pais recommends adaptations to the native system for anglicisms such as eslogan (esloganes), etc. in marked contrast with slogans, etc. which is the form consistently used in El Mundo, Diario 16, etc. --even though the latter follows a more popular line, addressing a less cultivated readership.

A particular case of variation in the plural, especially at the graphematic level, is the series of anglicisms ending in -y. In hippy or penalty, the plural is formed as in English: hippies, penalties, despite the common pronunciation [xipis] and [penaltis], thus establishing an unusual problem of disagreement between spelling and pronunciation. Half way between this form and the adapted hipis (or jipis) and penaltis, are the hypercorrect spellings hippys and penaltyes which are also found with certain frequency. The formation of unEnglish plurals ending in -yes, -ys as well as -s in -man (in gagmans), can be an indication that the writer is unfamiliar with English and belongs to a lower class (unless the anglicism is fully established like clergymans, in which case the plural in -men might sound pretentious or bookish).

3.2. Adjectives

Adjectives in the predicative position are not particularly frequent among Spanish anglicisms (esta missing, esta groggy, es muy in, esta muy out, es muy heavy). The same function and condition applies to participles (estar flipado < (to be) flipped out). Their capacity to form comparatives and superlatives is still more limited, but results do not sound odd except in derivatives such as campisimo or esnobisimo.

More common are attributive adjectives forming part of compounds or compound phrases: periodista freelance, fiesta acid, musica acid, cremas after-shave, discoteca after-hours, cultura underground. Likewise, it is quite common to find nouns used in restrictive apposition and therefore fulfilling the same adjectival function (personalidad borderline, equipo high-tech, zanahorias baby, cultura pulp). Occasionally the noun forming part of a compound group is dropped and thus the adjective acquires a nominal function which is non-existent in English: una (motocicleta) custom; full (hand), in poker.

3.3. Adverbs

The adverbial -ly suffix is never attested in Spanish loans--although in two instances the corresponding Spanish -mente is found: windsurfisticamente and gangsterilmente-- but there are a number of adverbs (yes, of course) and adverbial expressions (trabajar full time, fifty-fifty, on line, in person), in addition to the humorous pseudo-anglicism by the face (= por la cara 'cheekily').

3.4. Verbs

The number of verbs is limited: chequear (<'to check, to examine'), driblar (<to dribble), dropar (<to drop, in golf), esnifar (<to sniff), flipar (<to flip (out), linkar (<to make a link), topar (<to top, in golf); some of these may have been reinforced by the almost simultaneous--if not previous--existence of a noun (chequeo, dribbling, flipe). The derivation from a noun turns out to be clear in other cases such as boicotear (=hacer un boicot 'to boycott'), chatear (=mantener un chat 'to chat', in Internet), espitar (=coger speed [espit] 'to get high', in drugs), (e)sprintar (=hacer un sprint 'to sprint'), faxear (=enviar un fax 'to send a fax'), flirtear (<mantener un flirt 'to flirt'), liderar (=actuar como lider 'to act as a leader'), testar (=someter a un test 'to put to a test'), zapear (=hacer zapping 'to zap a TV spot'), and this seems to be the general pattern.

The verbal morphemes -ar and -ear (both belong to the first conjugation pattern) are almost evenly represented, although with a slight predominance of the first type. Items ending in -ear usually have a colloquial tinge and an iterative meaning, and this semantic conditioning may account for the few cases of vacillation found in the use of such morphemes: the rare zapar and zapinear along with the now popular zapear. (4)

The derivational process becomes morphologically obvious with the suffix -iz (ar) (=English -ize), as in estandarizar (:convertir en standard 'to make standard' or 'turn into a standard'), macadamizar (=pavimentar con macadam 'to macadamize'), sponsorizar (=hacer de sponsor 'to sponsor or act as a sponsor'), although this process is not very productive.

Homonymy results from some anglicisms such as the already cited espitar which also means 'to tap, broach', testar (:'to make one' s will') and zapar ('to sap, mine'), and probably this conflict accounts for the rare or restricted usage of such terms. In zapear ('scare away'), the distinctive form may have contributed to the proposal and the acceptance of the term.

3.5. Derivation

3.5.1 Gender specification.

Spanish personal nouns usually indicate feminine gender by means of -a (profesor,-a; senor,-a). Loanwords, however, express gender only by means of a determiner, most often the article (un/una babysitter, los/las fans, los/las groupies). In addition to this marking, there are some pairs contrasting natural gender (un mister/una miss, un lord/una lady, un boy/una girl), although in some cases the meaning is denotatively or contextually different. Such lexemes are used to form dyadic sets of compounds (milord/milady, un cowboy/una cowgirl, un playboy /una playgirl); the most common is -man/-woman (bluesman/blueswoman, superman/superwoman, showman/showwoman, in addition to the pseudo-anglicism recordman/recordwoman).

For sociocultural reasons, there is a trend to associate certain concepts with the masculine: boss, dandy, disc jockey, hooligan, jockey, referee, yonqui; this gender is particularly frequent with nouns formed with the suffix -er: biker, broker, crooner, docker, killer, handicapper, headhunter, lover, ranger, rocker, speaker, squatter. There are also some nounds ending in -man which lack the corresponding feminine form (barman, cameraman, chairman). Substantival anglicisms restricted to the feminine are rare (e.g. majorette, nurse).

3.5.2. Agent nouns

English expresses agency by -er and -man, which have left a clear mark on Spanish morphology.

As a noun suffix, -er does not exist in Spanish but a great number of English loans have been taken over unchanged with that ending. Most are deverbals with an animate and personal reference (catcher, hacker, latin lover, dealer, manager, leader/lider, sprinter) but there are also derivatives which refer to inanimate objects (scanner, tester, thriller). Spanish has a similar suffix -ero and occasionally there is vacillation in the use of the English and the Spanish morphemes, -er/ero (biker/bikero, raper/rapero, rocker/ rockero, and reporter, now very rare /reportero), -ero being a clear sign of integration. There are also Spanish creations with no equivalent in English such as choppero (<chopper), comixero (<comix), clinero (< kleenex), funero (<fun 'funboard'), sandwichera/ sang~ichera (f. <sandwich) ticketero (<ticket). Some Spanish -ero formations are also used as adjectives.

In addition to -ero, -ista stands out as a productive agential suffix in Spanish which contrasts with the scarcity of -ist formations. Save for chartista (<E. chartist), all Spanish derivatives in -ista have been formed natively and have unisomorphic equivalences in English: e.g., bluesista, clubista, folkloris, and the sports terms basquetista, beisbolista, crolista, surfista, tenista, waterpolista, windsurfista, which may have been coined by analogy with the old and well-known futbolista and the general term deportista 'sportsman'.

Other suffixes include Spanish -ador (bateador (<bate 'bat'), bisneador (<business), boxeador (<boxear 'to box'), noqueador (<noquear 'to knock out') and English -man (barman, cameraman, clubman, funkman, gagman, jazzman, showman, soulman, superman) and -ie (folkie, groupie, junkie, trekkie, walkie-talkie).

Some anglicisms show vacillation in the use of derivational suffixes, or play with the different connotation they provide; thus, in addition to the pair -er/-ero, already mentioned, the following alternants have been attested: surfer/surfista; beisbolero/ beisbolista, bestsellero/bestsellerista, bluesero/ bluesista/bluesman; soulman/soulero; folkie/folkero; windsurfista/windsurfeta.

3.5.3. New adjectives

In general, adjectives are rarely borrowed. Two adjectives such as cool and groovy (both 'excellent') are infrequently attested in the youth press; hot is also used in figurative meanings ('exciting'). Two others were recorded in the past and are now marked as archaic (fashionable, shocking).

Among specialized terms, daltonian has given rise to the adapted forms daltoniano and daltonico.

This scarcity of adjective forms directly borrowed from English contrasts with the number of adjectival forms derived from borrowed nouns. To render English N+N compounds Spanish derives a denominal adjective for the modifying element. Examples of this "anisomorphism" (cf. Pratt 1980: 158) are the Spanish coinages aerobico (<aerobics), bitico (<bit), clownesco (<clown), crupal, cruposo (<croup), espidico/espitoso (<speed), grungeriano (<grunge), hipioso (<hippie), popero (<pop).

A novelty in the Spanish language is the recurrent use of adjectives ending in the characteristic English suffix -y/-ie. Apart from isolated groovy and the restricted attribution of the noun baby (zanahorias baby, lechugas baby), already cited, derivatives such as punky, punqui (<punk), poppy (<pop) and grungy (<grunge), most probably coined in imitation of the noun hippy (or hippie), are found in the subcultures of pop music and youth.

3.5.4 De-adjectival nouns

The few adjectives borrowed from English do not permit derivations. Fitness has been adopted directly, but the adjective fit is not recorded in Spanish.

3.6 Compounds and combining forms

In Spanish there are several anglicized words of a composite structure, most of which have been borrowed directly from English; therefore, their existence does not entail the previous use or later adoption of their constituent lexemes. Thus, brain trust, brain drain, duty-free, feedback, hat-trick, cowboy and disk jockey occur in Spanish, although none of the elements is ever found by itself. However, the recurring presence of a word as part of a compound may favour the word or eventually lead to its adoption. A good case in point is the adjective hot recently attested in the press, which was preceded by an extensive lexical family of compounds such as hot dog, hot jazz, hotline, hot pants and hot money. One might also be surprised to find lover occasionally in Spanish, since it corresponds to a basic concept in the vocabulary of languages, but the well-known and picturesque expression Latin lover has undoubtedly paved its way. Similarly, bike and biker owe much of their use to the popularity of the mountain bike in the 1980's. In none of these cases is the favoured monolexematic borrowing the result of an ellipsis, in contrast with the pattern explained in section 6.3b.

When a loanword enters Spanish, it is freely used in combination with native elements to form hybrid compounds such as cremas after-shave, lechugas baby. In other cases, however, the hybrid character may be the result of a partial translation of an English expression, as in fiesta acid (ecstasy) (<acid party), musica acid (<acid music), mercado bull (<bull market), cazadora bomber (<bomber jacket).

More strangely, the familiarization with English patterns of word-formation sometimes leads Spanish speakers to coin compound English-looking expressions independent of the donor language. The frequency of showman in Spanish accounts for the fairly frequent use of showwoman, which constrasts with English, where that term is very rare and not recorded in dictionaries. There are cases where users have gone still further by creating terms which do not exist at all, such as recordman/recordwoman mentioned above, or sexy boy for a male stripper.

The same happens with the use of some affixes and combining forms like mini- and micro-, as in minishort, much more frequently used in Spanish, and minipull and micropull (from pullover), which are unattested in English.

3.7 Calques (loan translations)

The phenomenon of calquing and of semantic anglicisms in general is less conspicuous, at least from a morphological and graphemic point of view, but it has long drawn the attention or curiosity of researchers working in this field (Bookless, Pratt), especially those interested in the area of translation (Lorenzo, Santoyo). However, the fact that the foreign origin of calques is not self-evident, not even to the general public, and soon forgotten, explains the little interest in their compilation. In the absence of any comprehensive work of this kind in Spanish, it would be difficult to compare figures of borrowings and calques and obtain reliable results; impressionistically we can formulate some trends and contrastive patterns at some levels of analysis.

Firstly, it seems that contemporary Spanish is, and has always been, more open to borrowing than to calquing; this impression is confirmed by looking at all dictionaries of anglicisms and foreign terms. In this respect the situation is not very different from other languages subject to great English influence such as German.

But a closer look shows that the number of anglicisms exceeds that of translations only as far as semantic calquing is concerned. With regard to calques proper such as rascacielos from sky-scraper, or mantener un perfil bajo from to keep a low profile the trend is the opposite: there are more calques than borrowings, and this for a similar reason. It is easy to perceive that for speakers of a Romance language like Spanish, it is difficult to memorize a complex structure or morphology; thus, following the principle of least effort, they are prompted to switch to a Spanish code. If the Spanish equivalent is semantically transparent and comprehensible, the takeover is assured. There have been many changes from borrowing to calquing in the course of time which met such conditions (delantero centro from center-forward, flying saucer from platillo volante, and more recently, pago pot vision from pay per view).

When borrowings resist replacement by a native item, it usually is because of their shortness (football, now spelt futbol vs. balompie, cash flow vs. flujo de caja, e-mail vs. correo electronico) or difficulties of translatability (compare jet set/jet society with the awkward or inexistent juego/serie/sociedad/grupo de personas que cogen el avion a reaccion). No doubt the previous occurrence of at least one such anglicism in isolated form (jet and set in jet set, show in reality show) or as a bound part of a compound (ball in football, and later in volleyball or voleibol) facilitate their adoption and permanence. The last example illustrates well the power of analogy and the economic principle since it is gaining ground again after having been replaced by balonvolea in the past.

Often two patterns coexist. This situation can exist for a time, and give rise to stylistic or sociolinguistic nuances, but much more often the calque that is coined is not preceded by an anglicism (libre comercio from free trade, librepensador from free thinker, sexo en grupo from group sex, sexo seguro from safe sex). Sometimes the fact that the equivalence of two terms is based on translation cannot be established beyond doubt; thus, it might be difficult to determine whether Sp. goma, an informal term for condon, was first employed independently or as a semantic calque from E. rubber, and the same is true for E. tax-free and Sp. libre de tasas.


Only one sense is retained in each borrowing process so that there is usually an obvious difference between the range of meanings of an English word and the senses taken over by Spanish. Party is known in Spanish only as 'social gathering', and rap as a technical term for 'a style of rock'; both are far behind the six meanings recorded in the Concise Oxford Dictionary for each. Differences are still more conspicuous when one compares different grammatical categories or functions. Overall was borrowed as a special kind of 'trousers', but not in its more general sense as an adjective or adverb. Such differences are greater in the general or basic everyday vocabulary than in technical nomenclatures where there is a special need for unambiguous reference.

Moreover, an individual meaning may be significantly altered in the receiving language after the borrowing:

a) The meaning or reference may be restricted in Spanish: back-up is only used in relation to computers, rally is only used with reference to a competition of vehicles (especially cars), strip does not refer simply to nudity but to a specific action, i.e. 'strip-tease' Meeting/mitin in Spanish is only applicable to a special kind of meeting, notably a political one, a use which contrasts with English '(political) rally'.

b) The range of the English meaning may be extended giving rise to a (semantic) pseudoanglicism referred to above. This may occur

1) through metonymic extension: baby, usually spelt babi, is also used for 'a child's pinafore', and burger is most frequently used to refer to a 'burger shop';

2) through figurative or metaphoric extension: zapping for switching from one thing to another. (In English its obsolete use is restricted to TV programmes);

3) through ellipsis, a common pattern which accounts for smoking for 'smoking jacket', top for 'top model', etc.

The latter examples are instances of semantic changes developed after the loanword was established in the receiving language. Occasionally, there are also extensions of the English meanings which can be thus considered from the first appearance of the loan, as a result of some kind of misunderstanding or error in interpreting the foreign term. Thus footing was first used in French, and later in Spanish, as a folk-etymology, by association with foot, a well-known constituent of the term football. A similar process took place in crack, which was mistaken for crash to refer to the 'financial crash' of 1929 probably because of its onomatopoetic associations. Bungalow 'a one-storeyed house' developed to refer to a new Spanish concept in modern housing, the type known as town house or semidetached house (cf. Sp. chalet adosado) .


There has not been any comprehensive sociolinguist or stylistic analysis of Spanish anglicisms to date. Such an account is difficult to give in a field where vocabulary changes at great speed and is subject to great variability among users. However, a look at the large body of data handled in the UDASEL collection and the Nuevo diccionario de anglicismos allows us to get a glimpse of the factors and problems involved.

To begin with, there are no fixed rules in the use of anglicisms and native terms. The varying use of anglicisms depends on many sociolinguistic factors which have to do with the status of the user, the means or channel of communication, the subject matter, etc. More technically, and following Halliday's terminology, we can distinguish two major types of factors: those linked to language "use", or register, and those linked to the language "user" who belongs to a specific group of speakers reflected in his or her sociolect (age, education and socioeconomic status).

Very often these factors coincide in favouring a particular usage. In fact, most anglicisms develop in a specialized and restricted field, and this condition explains their greater use in the written language. Also, generally speaking, the use of anglicisms is linked to the level of education of the speakers or writers, and thefore many have a learned character.

Clear examples of the influence of these factors, especially of the first type, are thriller and film. Film (or its adapted form filme) is the preferred term in specialized written language, whereas its corresponding Spanish term, pelicula, is favoured in speech. The learned and specialized character of the English term accounts for the double forms found in derivatives and compounds, in keeping with two well differentiated registers: pellcula is the basis of colloquial peliculon and peliculero; and film, the formal variant, of the series filmar, filmico, filmografia and filmologia, filmoteca, filmina, microfilm.

These register distinctions do not always follow the same direction; anglicisms are sensitive to different aspects of communication. For example, the dimension of formality is independent of technicality, as is illustrated by terms such as eyeliner and marketing. Eyeliner, pronounced the Spanish way [ejeliner], is the general term used in the speech of beauticians, while more educated speakers who are not so familiar with the trade might use the Sp. equivalent perfilador de ojos, especially in written language. Likewise, marketing is a more established term both in publicity and general language; however, some journalists use mercadotecnia when they try to provide the text with a literary flavour.

One can also find instances of the contrary trend: a professional group may prefer a Sp. term so as to achieve a higher register. Thus, barman was borrowed in the sixties at the time of the first waves of foreign tourism and took root, but in present-day publicity jargon and in colloquial language it is now giving way to its superordinate term, camarero, often accompanied by a qualifier (camarero para barra, camarero de barra).

The use of anglicisms also correlates with age. In several fields, such as modern music, sports, drugs, etc., anglicisms are more frequently used among the young, as illustrated by the example of basket vs. baloncesto. This is easy to understand if we take into account the introduction of English in school curricula, and the link of many English terms with new technical innovations and social and cultural phenomena. We also know how ready young people are to accept new fashions and everything that smacks of modernity. In consequence, the young are responsible for the growing use of anglicisms in slang and colloquial language.

Some Spanish and English equivalents stay in the language, and will continue to do so, because of their specialized uses, as in the semantic differences between E. sandwich and Sp. bocadillo, and E. bacon and Sp. panceta or tocino. In such cases the users have to decide which term to choose according to the context. In other cases, the two terms co-occur within a single text; they may even alternate, when the author (speaker but generally writer) aims at stylistic or elegant variation. There are many examples of this principle in the media: jeans/tejanos, basket/baloncesto, sponsor/ patrocinador, rating/calificacion (cr. Rodriguez 1996).


Contact with English can lead to various forms of expansion in Spanish; the most frequent type is the take-over of the form and the content of the English word:


1a Totally unadapted and not felt to be part of Sp. (quotations, code switching, foreignisms):

   Contra ellos se revuelven los jovenes, conocidos
   como comrades, que pertenecen casi siempre al
   United Democratic Front (UDF). (El Pais Semanal,
   27/3/1988, 48)


   Mira que si la senora Thatcher conocia el
   asuntejo, o sea, el "rollo", y actuo, si no como
   "pimp" (alcahueta), al menos con complacencia
   hasta que se descubrio el pastel. (Diario 16,
   15/10/1983, 3)

1b words still looking foreign or unadapted (= Eremdworter, aliens):

boy-scout, disc-jockey, thriller;

1c fully integrated items (= Lehnworter, denizens):

bar, lider, motel


2a TRANSLATION (Lehnfibersetzung), reflecting the morphologic structure of the English complex item as closely as the structure of Spanish permits.
   A1 successful attempts:

   guardameta for goalkeeper, lavado de cerebros for
   brainwashing, platillo volante for flying saucer,
   no alineado for non-aligned, hombre hecho a si
   mismo for self-made man, rascacielos for skyscraper,
  caja negra for black box.

   A2 coexisting:

   basketball = baloncesto, Big Brother = Hermano
   Mayor, futbol (< from football) = balompie, hard
   rock = rock duro, public relations = relaciones

   A3 failures:

   pass word > palabra de paso, water polo > polo

2b RENDERING (Lehnubertragung), translating only part of the English item by providing looser equivalents for others.
   B1 successful:

   bodyguard <guardaespaldas, headhunter <cazatalentos,
   Iron Curtain <telon de acero

   B2 coexisting:

   marketing =mercadotecnia, barman =camarero de
   barra, best-seller =exito de ventas,
   brainstorming =tormenta de ideas, corner =saque
   de esquina, recordman =plusmarquista

   B3 failures:

   Russian salad >ensalada nacional (Franco, to
   replace ensaladilla rusa)

2c CREATION (Lehnschopfung), a formally independent equivalent whose coinage was, however, prompted by the English item.
   C1 successful:

   baby-sitter <canguro, go-slow <huelga de celo

   C2 coexisting:

   body building =culturismo, jeans =vaqueros/
   tejanos, joint =porro, password =contrasena,
   raider =tiburon (in finance), tie-break =muerte

   C3 failures:

   coctail >combinado, hardware >soporte fisico,
   sandwich >emparedado

2d SEMANTIC LOAN (Lehnbedeutung), an existing Spanish item taking over one meaning of the English equivalent.
   D1 successful:

   addict <adicto (to drugs), butterfly <mariposa
   (in swimming), centre <centrar (in soccer), group
   <grupo (in music), mouse =raton (in computers)

   D2 coexisting:

   trip =viaje, tripar =viajar (in drugs)

   D3 failures:

   cameraman >operador (camara is preferred), lift
   >elevador (vs. present-day standard Sp. ascensor)

3 PSEUDO-LOANS, English-looking items which do not exist in English itself.

3a lexical pseudo-loans, made with English word material into new linguistic units that do not exist in English:
   recordman/-woman instead of recordholder, footing
   instead of jogging

3b morphological pseudo-loans
   the shortening of items ranging from simple words
   (biuti from beautiful (people), pull in minipull
   from pullover) through compounds (Sp. happy end
   from happy ending) to phrases and phraseologisms
   (Sp. gin tonic from E. gin and tonic) and to
   blends from Spanish and English (Sp. sillon-ball);

3c semantic pseudo-loans
   where the anglicism develops a meaning in Spanish
   that is absent from English: Sp. slip 'briefs',
   (under)-pants', clergyman 'clergyman's suit=,
   'clerical collar'.


Taking stock of the impact of the phenomenon of anglicisms in Spanish and of their future perspectives implies making an assessment first of the acceptability of loans in the receiving language and of the different types and mechanisms which operate in their introduction and use. Anglicisms are unevenly represented in the different domains and they respond to various conditioning factors, a fact which should always be borne in mind when approaching the oft-mentioned problem of the erosion of language.

If we accept as valid the simplified and loose distinction between necessary and unnecessary loans, it seems logical to approve of the former and predict that borrowing will continue in general language. As to stylistic borrowings we should consider some as necessary in so far as they are specialized or provide certain stylistic possibilities which make them attractive to their users, fulfilling functions similar to slang and vogue terms. The problem lies in those words which, prompted by humour or a search for prestige, sound a bit too much, ridiculous or "silly"--to use Guzman's (1982) description. Such words do not tend to be permanent, however.

As for technical terminology, there is an ever increasing transfer to the general language. According to some lexicographic accounts, there are at least one million words in the English scientific vocabulary (well ahead of the 700.000 words contained in the Merriam-Webster files as reported by Allen Walker Read and quoted by Landau, 1989: 17), and if ultraspecialized computer language and the expanding stock of acronyms were taken into account, the number would well exceed that figure. It is in these specialized fields where the impact of English is most strongly felt, and will continue to be as long as American political, cultural and technological hegemony remains. It is true that this makes the reader often feel helpless, that there are certain dangers for our language, and that therefore some policies on terminological normalization are necessary and welcome. But it is also true that in the global village, the growing communication between people favours the consolidation of a lingua franca, particularly in science and technology where there is a pragmatic trend to search for universal terms. In this perspective, anglicisms are an unavoidable language resource to which we have to get accustomed. The search for a proper and convenient balance rather than an entrenched linguistic purism should be the logical result.

With increasing literacy and a greater diffusion of English as a second language, it is difficult to foresee a diminution of anglicisms. In journalistic language in particular, many of these will come and go, and only a comparatively small fraction will seep into the general language and everyday speech. A further increase in the number of anglicisms is to be expected, together with their invasion into new spheres of life, especially in written language, whereas speech is expected to remain more stable and resistant to change in keeping with its lower register, its more natural style, and a certain resistance of many speakers to employ a lexicon which appears to be alien to our linguistic system, and therefore conspicuous and not easy to integrate.


Spanish anglicisms have been the focus of research for Spanish anglicists and foreign Hispanists since the 1950s (the first hallmark being Lorenzo's seminal article of 1955), and especially in the seventies, when anglicisms became deeply rooted in our language. Considering such a small span of time, the full list of published titles (which will appear in ABASEL; cf. Gorlach f.c.) is impressive, especially when contrasted with the information available for other European languages. Research has concentrated on the following topics:

a) Phonological, morphological, stylistic and typological analysis.

b) the compilation of items current in special vocabularies (sports, drugs, computers, economy, medicine) as well as in colloquial language.

c) compilation of dictionaries of anglicisms and dictionaries of foreign terms inclusive of them.

d) corpus-related analysis based on particular newspapers (Blanco y Negro, El Pais, La Vanguardia, etc.)

e) a small and insufficient number of studies exploring sociolinguistic issues related to usage, correctness, social attitudes.

(1) This article was commissioned by Manfred Gorlach for a collective volume, entitled English in Europe, to be published by Oxford University Press. Except for a few slight changes, it follows the guidelines proposed by the editor for all chapters. It has also benefited from his critical revision, for which I am most thankful; however, any flaw or error is entirely mine.

References and length of this article had to be condensed to meet the editor's requirements. Most of the data used in the text have been extracted from my contribution to the dictionary A Usage Dictionary of Anglicisms in Selected European Languages (UDASEL), edited by M. Gorlach and to which the book mentioned above will serve as a companion. (For a report on this project, see Gorlach 1994; 1998). Many of the anglicisms cited are also found in the Nuevo diccionario de anglicismos (Rodriguez/Lillo 1997).

(2) For more information on phonological variation in anglicisms, see Lorenzo (1994; 1997).

(3) For more information on graphemic variation in anglicisms, see saeva (1999).

(4) In comparison with Peninsular Spanish usage, other morphological variants are attested in some areas of Latin America: e.g. parquear in Colombia (Haensch 1995: 234) vs. Sp. aparcar 'to park', esnifiar and chutiar in Puerto Rico (Llorens 1985) vs. Sp. esnifar 'to sniff' and chutar 'to shoot'.

(5) The terminology and typology used in this section is based on Carstensen & Busse (1993-1996: 53-66) and Gorlach/Busse's study on German anglicisms for the aforementioned book English in Europe. For a detailed account of the typology of anglicisms in Spanish, see G6mez (1991; 1997a; 1998: ch. I). There are a few studies which have tackled this issue from a more sociolinguistic point of view, based on the concept of 'code switching' and following an empirical approach. Insightful as this approach may be, these studies are largely programmatic and have produced only partial results. One would expect, however, that in the future the digitation of text corpora from major journals (such as El Pais and El Mundo) and even of transcripts from the oral media will make it more feasible to explore matters related to the frequency of anglicisms and neologisms in general.

The symbols >, < contained in this section are used to contrast the relative frequency of two items (meaning "more often used", "less often used"), as in UDASEL (Gorlach, ed. fc.).


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Felix Rodriguez Gonzalez

University of Alicante
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Author:Rodriguez Gonzalez, Felix
Publication:Atlantis, revista de la Asociacion Espanola de Estudios Anglo-Norteamericanos
Date:Jun 1, 1999
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