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  • Enida Cincora

The Assimilation of Anglicisms in Romanian


Introduction

Since December 1989, Romanian has experienced a constantly growing intake of English loanwords, and their pervasiveness is perceived differently by native Romanian speakers. Whereas younger Romanians and their English-speaking compatriots see Anglicisms as part of the common Romanian lexis, one which is particularly effective and “cool” in certain communication contexts, linguists may tend to disapprove of them [1]. However, to ensure correct and coherent use of Anglicisms, as well as their adjustment to the Romanian language system, lexicographers have found it necessary to include, describe and explain them in dictionaries, providing guidelines for their usage [2].

Most linguists refer to borrowings from English using the term “Anglicism”, the exact definition of which, though, is not unanimously accepted. According to a minimal but clarifying description by Prof Adriana Stoichiţoiu Ichim, “Anglicisms are borrowings from British and American English currently adjusting to the Romanian language system. This trait sets them apart both from completely assimilated loanwords, and from borrowings which have fully preserved their foreignness....” [3]

Frequent inconsistencies, along with specific trends in the assimilation of Anglicisms become apparent by analysing in detail the morphology of texts in beauty magazines, for example (see Sources below). Noun Anglicisms seem the most easily adaptable. (For a comprehensive overview of number and gender inflection with Anglicisms in Romanian, based on the English-origin words recorded in DOOM, the 2nd edition, see [4].)

This post will focus on the plural form of Anglicisms and how they fit into the three gender categories (masculine, feminine and neuter) of Romanian.

The Plural Form of Anglicisms

In most cases, the plural of countable Anglicisms is made by adding Romanian endings. Occasionally, hybrid forms ensue, with double plural endings, both English and Romanian, such as in comicsuri, congresmeni, slums-uri, sticks-uri , etc. Finally, in some few isolated cases only the English plural ending -s is maintained (such as in hip-hoopers, lifestyle centers or skinheads), indicative of “an uncompleted morphological adjustment status,” according to Prof Stoichiţoiu.

Of the three, the most remarkable case is that of the redundant forms generated wherever Romanian speakers fail to identify the existing English plural, and so one and the same loanword accommodates two plural forms: that compliant with English morphology, and the one adapted to the Romanian system - see plural jeans and double-plural jeanşi, or skills and skillsuri [5]. There is obvious competition between the two, in the sources analysed, yet the plural forms adapted to the Romanian language system tend to prevail in more and more contexts.

Even more remarkably, rival plural forms of Anglicisms and their Romanian synonyms are used interchangeably within a text, allowing authors to avoid repetition: see catwalkuri /catwalk-uri and podiumuri (de modă), outfituri and ţinute, printuri and imprimeuri, trenduri and tendinţe.

The Gender of Anglicisms

English borrowings ending in plural -i such as designeri, freelanceri, hairstilişti, speakeri pertain to the masculine gender. Feminine forms of Anglicisms are made by adding other Romanian suffixes and go unrecorded by dictionaries (bloggerițe, goalkeepere, stewardese ), which only reinforces the thesis that English loanwords are still unstable, their adaptation to the Romanian inflection system being under way.

Most of the Anglicisms partially adapted to the system of Romanian, however, take -uri as a plural ending for inanimate nouns and belong to the neuter gender: bloguri, branduri, businessuri, e-mailuri, joburi, malluri, traininguri, workshopuri, showroomuri, weekenduri , and hyphenated forms like site-uri. Very infrequently, in the neuter-gender noun group there are Anglicisms ending in plural -e, for example chokere.

Conclusions

The examples analysed represent but a small part of the total number of Anglicisms borrowed and used in Romanian. Even so, they shed light on how public communication is “under assault” by new concepts and terms. That shows that native speakers of Romanian are eager, on the one hand, to assert themselves as users of a foreign language, and, on the other, to make their message more suggestive and appealing.

The frequent inconsistencies highlighted above also show that, despite linguistic “competition” between Anglicisms and their Romanian equivalents, most of the times Anglicisms tend to get assimilated into the inflection system of the host language, Romanian.


[1] Dicţionarul ortografic, ortoepic şi morfologic al limbii române (DOOM), page IX. 2nd edition. Bucharest: Editura Univers Enciclopedic, 2005.

[2] See Mioara Avram, Anglicismele în limba română actuală, page 29. Bucharest: Editura Academiei Române, 1997. Cf also, DOOM page XII.

[3] Adriana Stoichiţoiu Ichim, Aspecte ale influenţei engleze în româna actuală, page 29. Bucharest: Editura Universităţii din Bucureşti, 2006.

[4] Vlad Dragoş Topală, “Aspecte morfologice ale anglicismelor din limba română actuală (genul şi numărul)”, in Studii de gramatică şi de formare a cuvintelor. În memoria Mioarei Avram (ed Marius Sala), pages 425-433. Bucharest: Editura Academiei Române, 2006.

[5] Cf Adriana Stoichiţoiu Ichim, “Observaţii privind pluralul anglicismelor” (I & II), in Limba şi literatura română. Revistă trimestrială pentru elevi. XXXV.1 (Jan-Mar 2006) & XXXV.2 (Apr-Jun 2006). Pages 11-15 & 6-12, respectively.

Sources

InStyle/Nov 2012.

The ONE, 94/Oct 2012.

Unica, 11/Nov 2012.

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