National Languages Protection Revisited. Culture-Specific Vocabulary: Loanwords Vs. Seeking Equivalents


Dictionaries add an average of 500-600 new words each year, many of them of foreign origin. Loanwords find inroads into the word stock of a language though its natural development and enrichment. While borrowing words directly may be necessary when it comes to culture-specific vocabulary, doing that excessively raises legitimate concerns for purity and uniqueness of a national language. Loanwords tend to be assimilated due to our brain’s specific function of perceiving a word as a complete image, irrespective of what it actually means, rather than reading them letter by letter or syllable by syllable. Media and social networks make us memorize loanwords by using them repeatedly. As we mindlessly add up such words to our vocabulary this way, we ease up on our critical attitude to using them, which would pave the way to all sorts of manipulations while also aggravating misunderstanding within the language speaking community. This article holds up the work of the Académie Française as an example of how to deal with the influx of borrowings in a sustainable manner, and analyzes the case of fake news to illustrate how French equivalents are elaborated. The authors highlight the portmanteau principle as a current and prolific word-building model, maintaining that merging two words into one is both practical and pragmatic and arguing that it is in line with native language speakers’ seeking to save their speech efforts, to be original, expressive and unique.

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31 March 2022

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1st Edition




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Bubnova, A. S., Kalinin, K. E., & Vdovichev, A. V. (2022). National Languages Protection Revisited. Culture-Specific Vocabulary: Loanwords Vs. Seeking Equivalents. In & I. Savchenko (Ed.), Freedom and Responsibility in Pivotal Times, vol 125. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 695-701). European Publisher.