Attitudes to the use of English in Swiss German advertising language.

Felicity Rash

Continued (page 2 of 5)


3.1.1 The Informants

The survey was intended to assess attitudes to and comprehension of 25 English words and phrases. Advertising texts were used as sources for the lexical items because advertising was perceived to be one of the major routes of entry for English vocabulary into the German language. The aim was to question a cross-section of the Swiss German language community, but the selection of a fully representative sample proved difficult. 85 informants were interviewed by means of a questionnaire: 10 were retired people (Age-group 1); 17 were aged between 41 and 60 (Age-group 2); 20 between 21 and 40 (Age-group 3), and 38 were under 20 and still in full or part time education (Age-group 4). There were slightly more male than female informants (49 men and 36 women). 45 informants lived in towns and 40 in villages. The following lowland and mountain cantons were visited: Basel, Aargau, Zürich, Luzern and Uri. Of the people who had already trained in a profession almost equal numbers were found for each of what were categorised as the A and the B professions (41 informants for A; 44 for B). Category A were people with a University education and Category B were those with a completed apprenticeship. 30 informants (mostly from the B-category professions) considered Swiss German to be their mother tongue and German their second language. 46 informants (mostly from the A-category professions) considered German to be their mother tongue and either French or English their second language (in this context the term `German' referred to dialect and the standard language as a single entity). The remaining 9 informants were immigrants whose first languages were Turkish, Spanish, Italian, Vietnamese, Hungarian and English: these people form an important group; even though Swiss German is their second language, they use it every day outside the home and are fluent in it.

Nearly all of my informants knew some English and 67 claimed to enjoy speaking it. Only 11 people claimed to have no knowledge of English at all, and even they could understand a surprising number of the words that they were questioned about. 42 of the 85 informants had learnt English as their second foreign language for an average of two years, and 24 had learnt English as their third foreign language. As was to be expected, those from the A professions, most of whom had learnt English for at least three years, could answer most of my questions fully; those from the B professions, who had learnt English for one year at most, experienced more difficulty. The over-sixties had the greatest difficulty of all, while the under-twenties often made cunning guesses when they did not know an answer.

3.1.2 Table 1: Details of the informants' age and educational background:

Sex Occupation Group 1 Group 2 Group 3 Group 4
Women: A Professions 0 3 4 12
Men: A Professions 3 7 4 8
Women: B Professions 2 3 4 8
Men: B Professions 5 4 8 10


Group 1: retired people
Group 2: aged between 41 and 60
Group 3: aged between 21 and 40
Group 4: aged under 20 and still in full or part-time education

3.2 The Questionnaire

Appel and Muysken (1987:16-19) report that the mentalist view of language-study retains favour among sociolinguists and that questionnaires are one of the most valuable means of conducting research into language attitudes within a mentalist framework. They, like the present author, are fully aware of the problems encountered in attempts to study a subject's mental state, which, of course, cannot be directly observed, but must be probed by means of `self-reporting data' which are often of questionable validity.

The questions were designed to assess comprehension of the words and phrases, and people's attitudes towards 25 items of English vocabulary. The questionnaire was long and rather complicated, but was positively received by most of the informants who agreed to participate. Most people understood the purpose of the survey and took great care to provide accurate and honest answers. Older people needed considerable assistance in answering the questions, while the 38 young people who were still at school or college had no difficulty filling in the forms, but tended to regard the questionnaire as a test and worried that they might give `wrong' answers. Swiss Germans are generally interested in their language and, irrespective of their educational attainment, show a great awareness of their native dialect and personal language-use. This factor certainly contributed to the success of the survey.

The questionnaire comprised two sections: Part I (Teil I) and Part II (Teil II).

Part I

This section of the questionnaire is printed in Section 6 (Appendix I) to this paper.

Questions 1 - 11 elicited the age, and general social and educational background of the informants. The results are tabulated in Section 3.1.2 above.

Questions 12 - 17 elicited subjective responses about a number of issues of specific relevance to the linguistic situation in German-speaking Switzerland. Questions 13 and 14 were open-ended, and designed to summon fuller responses than the more usual multiple-choice questions. An analysis of the answers to these questions is presented in Sections 4 and 5 below.

Part II

This section of the questionnaire was designed to investigate the attitudes to and comprehension of 25 specific items of English vocabulary found in advertisements published in German-speaking Switzerland.

The same five questions were asked for each of the 25 terms:

1. Ich verstehe das Wort/den Satz. (Ja/Nein)

2. Ich würde das Wort/den Satz selber brauchen. (Ja/Nein)

3. Ich könnte ein deutsches Wort/einen deutschen Satz dafür finden. (Geben Sie bitte das Wort/den Satz). No translations were suggested to the informants [footnote 7].

4. Ich ziehe mein deutsches Wort/meinen deutschen Satz vor.

5. Ich finde das Wort/den Satz: modern/altmodisch; tiefgründig / oberflächlich; anziehend / abstossend; aufwertend / abwertend; interessant / lustig / langweilig; vielversprechend / nichtssagend; übertrieben / sachlich / ironisch [footnote 8]. This question was open-ended in that it allowed informants to offer additional personal opinions.

3.3.1 The 25 lexical items

The words, phrases and slogans of the vocabulary-specific section of the investigation were excerpted chiefly from advertising texts in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung (hereafter NZZ) and the Schweizer Illustrierte. An illustration was shown with words or phrases where the advertisement included one. The English vocabulary chosen for the study included a selection of words and phrases of different types:

Slogans: Fun 4 You, Feel the Difference, Built to Set you Free, The Essence of Beauty.

Headline: Tetrapak und sein Comeback.

Brand-names: Pampers, Whiskas, Gameboy, Voyager, Moisture Plus.

Concrete nouns and phrases (zero substitution): Airbag, Laptop, Software, Brunch, Halterneck-Body, Pink Ginger.

Abstract nouns and phrases (zero substitution): Workshop, Troubleshooting, On the Rocks.

Concrete noun phrase (partial substitution): 30-Minuten-Timer.

Abstract noun phrase (partial substitution): Tips und Tricks.

Derivations: Gesponserte, recyclebar, jeansig.

Loan Creation: Swiss Burger.

These words, phrases and slogans represent both well-established and newer English loanwords, and four slogans which have undergone no integration into the German language at all (although some informants claimed that Fun 4 You was a phrase that they would readily and regularly use). Workshop, Troubleshooting, 30-Minuten-Timer, Laptop, Software, Airbag, and jeansig are all recent borrowings, many of which are already well on the way to becoming established in Swiss German dialect and standard usage. Tips und Tricks, On the Rocks, Comeback, Brunch, Gesponserte and recyclebar are older borrowings, were generally accepted as well-established and, perhaps because of their high degree of assimilation, the most difficult for people to match with `more German' synonyms. The four of the five brand-names (with the exception of Moisture Plus) were generally understood as genericizations: few people were bothered by the fact that they did not know precisely what the words meant in their source language. Slogans and names for beauty products such as The Essence of Beauty, Moisture Plus and Pink Ginger were seen by most informants as foreign words which would not survive in German, even though Moisture Plus is a German product and The Essence of Beauty, Swiss.

3.3.2 Semantic details of the 25 lexical items

Brief descriptions of the 25 English words, phrases and slogans follow, accompanied by the German translations which were most frequently suggested by informants.

Fun 4 You appeared as the major slogan in an advertising campaign by the tourist association of the mountain resort Arosa during the winter of 1991-1992. Comprehension of the phrase depended on the recognition of a pun on the English figure `four' and the preposition `for'. German translations: Spass für Sie/dich/euch or Plausch für Sie/dich/euch.

Feel the Difference This slogan comprises the entire text of an advertisment for a chain of hotels, appeared in the NZZ. German translations: Spüren/merken/erleben/erfahren Sie den Unterschied.

Built to Set You Free was the current slogan for Chrysler automobiles at the time of the survey. German translation: Gebaut um dich/Sie frei zu machen.

The Essence of Beauty was a slogan used to advertise a range of beauty products produced by Juvena (`of Switzerland'). German translations: Schönheitsessenz, Schönheitselixier, Der Hauch/der Kern/die Quintessenz/Die Essenz der Schönheit.

Tetrapak und sein Comeback was accompanied by an illustration of a Tetrapak milk-carton, a freshly hatched chicken and an egg-carton. Readers are intended to make a connection between the three elements of the illustration and the word comeback and thus deduce that the Tetrapak packaging can be recycled. The headline contains a rhyme if Tetrapak and comeback are pronounced as English words, both with the phoneme /æ/ as the nuclear vowel in the final syllable, although in German the final vowel in Tetrapak is /a/ and that in comeback is either /e/, or /æ/ as in English. German translations: Wiederverwertung or Wiedereinstieg.

Pampers is a brand-name for disposable nappies. To most informants the terms Pampers and Windeln were synonymous.

Whiskas is a brand-name for a cat-food well known in Switzerland. For many informants it was synonymous with Katzenfutter.

Gameboy is a small computer upon which games are played, and is widely advertised in the Swiss media. Suggested German translation: Spieljunge.

Voyager is the spacious vehicle that this term designates as presented in the Chrysler advertisement with the slogan `Built to Set You Free'. Suggested German translations: Reisender, Familienbus, Ferienauto or Reiselimousine.

Airbag, as in English, is an inflatable safety device attached to the steering wheel of a car. Suggested German translations: Lufttasche/-sack/-kissen, Aufprallschutz, Lenkradballon.

Laptop is a small portable computer. Suggested German translations: Handcomputer, Kleincomputer, tragbarer/portabler Computer, Computer-Notizbuch.

Software is an international term. Suggested German translations: Computerprogramme or Disketten.

Workshop, as in English, refers to a group discussion or seminar in a specialist field. The word appeared in an advertisement in the NZZ offering a `Workshop' to business executives. Suggested German translations: Arbeitssitzung, Kurs and Seminar.

Troubleshooting could apply to a profession or a task. Suggested German translations: Fehlersuche, Problemlösung and Krisenmanagement.

Tips und Tricks is a well-established phrase in the German language and therefore difficult to translate. It means `good advice and hints'. The phrase has been created in German from two independently borrowed English loans. To my knowledge we do not speak of tips and tricks as a set phrase in English. The word Trick is documented in the Schweizerdeutsches Wörterbuch (volume XIV) as having first appeared in Swiss German in the year 1917. It was considered to be a German word by 80 of my 85 informants, 19 of whom could find a synonym (Kniffe or Raffiniertheit). Tips is not found in the Schweizerdeutsches Wörterbuch, but was nevertheless considered as German as Tricks by most informants. The fact that 52 people could find a synonym for Tips (Hinweise, Ratschläge) may indicate that the word was adopted into Swiss German more recently than its partner and that it is less well-assimilated.

Halterneck-Body is a fashion item. No suitable German equivalent was suggested.

Pink Ginger is the colour of a lipstick. German translation: mehr Feuchtigkeit.

Moisture Plus is the name of a beauty cream manufactured in Germany. German translation: mehr Feuchtigkeit.

On the Rocks, `with ice'. German translation: mit Eiswürfeln.

Swiss Burger. German translation: Käsehamburger.

Brunch is as in English and was judged as a fully assimilated German word by most informants. A Swiss German translation was the most frequently suggested synonym: Zmorge-Zmittag.

30-Minuten-Timer is as in English. German translations: Kurzzeitmesser, Einsteller and Kochwecker.

Gesponserte is an adjectival noun based on the past participle of the verb sponsern which has been borrowed from the English verb to sponsor. In German the term is used to designate people who have received sponsorship to perform a task.

recyclebar is a term formed from the English verb to recycle, to which the German adjectival suffix has been added: it could thus be seen as a creation within the German language or as a partial substitution. German makes use of a verb recyclen, also modelled on the English verb, and a gerund Recycling, from which it forms its own compounds, not possible in English, such as Recycling-Papier (`recycled paper'). German alternatives: reziklierbar, wiederverwertbar and wiederverwendbar.

jeansig is an adjectival derivative from the German noun Jeans, a term with a long history as an anglicism in German. The word jeansig occurred in an advertisement published by a dating agency: the person sought was to be `jeansig, jung und jugendfrisch'. German translations (suggested by members of Age-group 4 only): lässig, cool.

3.4 Evaluation of the responses [footnote 9]

A tabulated summary of the results of Part II of the questionnaire will precede a fuller discussion of the informants' attitudes and comprehension levels. It can be seen from the results presented in TABLE II that there was a tendency for an informant's comprehension of a term to affect his or her attitudes towards it: an informant who understood a term fully was more likely to use it, to prefer it to a possible German synonym, and to make positive associations; informants who did not understand an expression were less likely to use it, and more likely to prefer a German equivalent and condemn it as nichtssagend or schlecht. A wide range of possibilities was, however, observed: for example some informants liked, used and preferred an English word which they did not understand, whilst others preferred an English word that they disliked to a German synonym. Section 7 (Appendix II) provides further information on the ranking of responses with regard to comprehension of and attitude to the 25 lexical items of the survey.

TABLE II: General Summary of Results

Lexical Item 1/3 (J). 2 (J) 4 (D) 4 (E) 4 (X) 5 (pos.) 5 (neg.) 5 (nt.)
Fun 4 You 72 14 17 40 28 48 19 18
Feel the Difference 68 14 29 27 29 26 28 31
Built to Set you Free 48 2 19 23 43 19 27 29
The Essence of Beauty 60 1 30 16 39 13 34 38
Tetrapak und sein Comeback 79 40 18 39 28 32 24 29
Pampers 53 35 13 32 40 23 14 48
Whiskas 26 2 13 8 64 10 24 51
Halterneck-Body 32 0 12 13 60 5 22 58
Gameboy 74 38 9 42 34 16 21 48
Fun 4 You 72 14 17 40 28 48 19 18
30-Minuten-Timer 74 27 21 33 31 11 16 58
Gesponserte 68 39 16 37 32 13 16 56
recyclebar 83 33 32 33 20 20 15 50
Voyager 65 10 19 27 39 17 15 53
Workshop 75 27 21 32 32 18 15 52
Swiss Burger 65 21 9 29 47 17 14 54
Pampers 53 35 13 32 40 23 14 48
On the Rocks 54 19 19 30 36 18 11 56
Troubleshooting 24 9 15 12 58 11 9 65
Whiskas 45 30 8 28 49 29 7 49
Tips und Tricks 80 49 7 42 36 24 6 55
Airbag 78 33 18 44 23 34 6 45
Laptop 49 23 3 31 41 9 6 70
Brunch 75 36 18 45 22 29 5 51
Software 82 43 6 56 23 23 5 57


1/3. J. = yes to questions 1 and 3, which coincided in 100% of the answers, i.e. the informant understood the word and felt that he or she could find a German equivalent. In 96% of all cases the German equivalent was correct; a small number of mistakes occurred in the cases of Workshop, Troubleshooting, Airbag and Software.

2. J. = yes to question 2, i.e. the informant would use the word.

4. D. = German preferred.

4. E. = English preferred.

4. X. = no opinion.

5. pos. = positive feelings about the word or phrase, e.g. interessant, lustig, aufwertend, sachlich, cool!

5. neg.= negative feelings, e.g. altmodisch, abwertend, abstossend, blöd.

5. nt. = neutral judgement, e.g. modern, normal, no opinion, or people felt that the word was already classed as German anyway.

3.4.2 Detailed evaluation of responses

The responses to the questions of Part II of the questionnaire, i.e. those concerned with the attitudes to and comprehension of the 25 lexical items, will now be analyzed from the perspective of the sex, age and educational background of the 85 informants. The precise numbers of informants for each group are presented in TABLE I above. Sex

The sex of the informants was the least significant factor in respect of the attitudes to and comprehension of English vocabulary. The only reactions which appeared to be sex-specific were those to terms for beauty products and items of women's clothing (Moisture Plus, Pink Ginger, The Essence of Beauty, Halterneck-Body): in these cases many men tried to ignore the question altogether.

Female informants

The female participants were more sensitive to the one colour term included in the survey than the men, as was demonstrated by the translations suggested for the term Pink Ginger. Ten women knew that ginger was a spice and gave translations such as rassiges/würziges Rosa, Rosa mit Ginger-Aroma. Eight women associated the word ginger with the colour red, as in ginger hair, and suggested German equivalents involving a range of shades of red: Rot-Rosa,Rosa-Orange, Rosa-Violett, Veilchen, Rosa-Honig, Aschblond, pinkiges Rot, ein ganz neues Pink. Many younger women thought that Pink was a German word.

Three women belonging to Age-group 3 and the A professions considered the brand-name Gameboy to be sexist.

The female participants in the survey did not express any negative associations that were distinct from those expressed by men. Positive associations such as anziehend and vielversprechend were made for each beauty products by some 15% of the female informants; also: poetisch (The Essence of Beauty), sexy (Moisture Plus) and romantisch (Moisture Plus), interessant (Halterneck-Body).

Male informants

A small number of men offered what one might label as stereotypically `macho' responses, for example: Casanova as a translation for Gameboy; Whisky für Katzen for Whiskas (2 informants); and Sekretärin auf dem Schoss for Laptop. All but the final example were suggested by members of the B-category professions and were serious suggestions.

Negative associations were expressed by some 10% of the informants in this group with respect to all the beauty products and women's fashion items.

Positive associations were expressed for all of the slogans, Pampers (gut, bekannt), Gameboy (modern, anziehend, interessant), and Voyager. Educational background

As far as Age-groups 1-3 were concerned, i.e. those informants with present or former professions, educational level was the most significant factor in the evaluation of the results of this survey. Two chief distinctions in educational background were identified: those with a university education were designated `Category A' and those with a completed apprenticeship `Category B'. A further distinction would not be meaningful, as nearly all Swiss people have a trade or profession. In Switzerland nearly all occupations require the completion of an apprenticeship, usually two years in length. Even a shop-assistant can say that he or she has a `Beruf' and will have learnt at least one foreign language. All of the housewives that I questioned indicated their former profession rather than claiming to be a `Hausfrau'. Members of Category A professions had all studied English for two years or more. Members of the Category B professions had learnt English for one year or less, apart from one woman who had worked as an au pair in the United States.

Category A

This group included five teachers, two architects, two solicitors, two engineers, two lexicographers, one chemist and two retired businessmen. Fifteen of these people were regular readers of the NZZ; twelve read Weltwoche; all read their local newspaper. Fout people also read Newsweek and Time. Few admitted to watching more than ten hours of television per week.

As one would expect, the members of the A-category professions showed a better understanding of the more difficult terms than members of the B-category. For example, five informants knew that English to pamper can be translated into German as verhätscheln or verwöhnen, but no-one could think of a suitable German alternative to the brand-name Pampers formed from those verbs. Three participants, all teachers of English, knew that English whiskers had a particular meaning in German (Schnurrhaare), but another teacher was misled by his knowledge of English and suggested Donnerskatzen as a German alternative, based on American gee whiz.

Debate on the possible suitability of a German alternative was often well-informed and demonstrated a desire for semantic precision, as with the terms Gesponserte and recyclebar. In discussions of the word Gesponserte (with five Category A informants) the possible alternative Unterstützte (from the verb unterstützen `to support') was felt to carry undertones of social deprivation; the term Bezahlte (from the verb bezahlen `to pay for') was considered too broad in reference and also to carry some pejorative connotations; the translation Geförderte (`people who are given special help or encouragement') was considered to be vague. With regard to the term recyclebar, four informants voiced the opinion that of the three possible translations of recyclebar, only reziklierbar, itself a `Fremdwort', fully covered the meaning of the English term; neither wiederverwendbar (`re-useable') nor wiederverwertbar (`capable of being reconstituted') could fully replace recyclebar, which incorporates both senses.

In general, if a word was considered to be clearer and more expressive of a precise meaning in its English form, it was preferred to a German alternative, irrespective of the informant's (frequently negative) ideological stance towards influences. Thus the terms Airbag, Troubleshooting, Laptop, Workshop, and Software were commonly preferred to possible German alternatives. However, reactions to the term Airbag were exemplary of the dilemma common to many Category A informants, five of whom felt that since the object itself was a new invention, and the designation not yet fully assimilated into the German language, the marketers could easily think of a suitable German word and encourage its use before the English word gained full currency.

Interference from a person's knowledge of French was most apparent in this group, more specifically amongst informants belonging to Age-groups 1 and 2. One woman claimed that the word essence in The Essence of Beauty reminded her of French essence `petrol' and that the words Schönes Benzin came into her mind every time she saw the advertisement. Five informants (two from Age-group 1 and three from Age-group 2) used the French voyager as the basis for their translation of the make of car Voyager as German Reisender, and three of these people claimed that the only English word voyager with which they were familiar was the name of a spacecraft.

Members of this group occasionally expressed a clear liking for an English term. For example, three people felt that the headline Tetrapak und sein Comeback represented an effective advertising strategy, as it encouraged readers to reflect on the issue of recycling and also flattered them by reinforcing their self-image as intelligent, thinking people.

Associations were frequently well differentiated and critical. Both positive and negative associations were expressed for the majority of the 25 items of English vocabulary, most notably: negative for jeansig and recyclebar (both condemned as an ugly and unnecessary hybrid formation), Halterneck-Body and Swiss Burger; positive for Fun 4 You and Software; and neutral for such well-assimilated anglicisms as Brunch, On the Rocks and Tips und Tricks.

Members of this group demonstrated the keenest interest in replacing English vocabulary with Swiss German dialect alternatives (see Section 4 below).

Category B

My informants from this group included two hairdressers, one beautician, one mechanic, one chauffeur, three salesmen, two saleswomen, one gardener, one former nurse, one former home economics teacher and on e sailor. The only informant who had not completed an apprenticeship was the sailor. The entire group read a local newspaper regularly, and many informants in Age-groups 2-4 also read either Schweizer Illustrierte or Schweizer Familie. 80% of the informants in this group watched television for more than twenty hours per week.

The level of comprehension of the 25 English expressions was more limited than that of the Category A professions, but in many cases an imaginative response compensated for lack of precise knowledge: many correct meanings were arrived at by guesswork or close study of accompanying illustrations. Occasionally informants' imaginations led them astray, as with Vier Dinge für Dich for Fun 4 You; wiisi Chatz (Swiss German for weise Katzen) for Whiskas; Chaos, Durcheinander and Streit for Troubleshooting; Topflappen (`oven-cloth') for Laptop; Softiis and Glacé (both Swiss German for `soft ice-cream') for Software; and Fluggepäck/Luftgepäck for Airbag. Phonological interference played an obvious part in the case of Whiskas, Software and Laptop.

The word Workshop caused problems for 75% of Category B informants as well as for most informants from Age-group 4. The German term Werkstatt was most frequently offered as a possible translation. Werkstatt traditionally designates `a craftsmen's workshop': I could only be certain that this sense was implied if the informant added für Handwerker.

Informants from this group commonly claimed to understand a term but either failed to offer a possible German equivalent or suggested imprecise alternatives, such as etwas Hamburgerähnliches (three informants) and etwas zum Essen (four informants) for Swiss Burger, Sportler (six informants) for Gesponserte, and hat mit Computer zu tun (sic) (five informants) for Software.

The associations made by members of this group in relation to the English terms were sparse in quantity, and largely undifferentiated and neutral in nature. Age

Age-group 1 (61 years old and above)

This was a group of ten retired people. Nine members of this group had very limited knowledge of English and the same nine people were extremely critical of the widespread use of English vocabulary in German texts. Fun 4 You, Feel the Difference, The Essence of Beauty, Tetrapak und sein Comeback, Moisture Plus and Halterneck Body were each condemned by at least two people as grosser Quatsch, ein Spanisches Dorf or eine Spanische Kuh (`incomprehensible'), irritierend or nichtssagend. The one remaining informant, a former international business executive, claimed that English words enrich the German language and that Swiss people who disagree with this viewpoint are Bünzli ('bourgeois').

All ten informants understood the term Brunch and classed it as an assimilated English loan. Tips und Tricks was understood by nine informants, eight of whom thought that the phrase was wholly German, despite the non-German -s plural morph.

Members of Age-group 1 were the most strongly influenced by the illustration that accompanied the advertisements, and this often led to misunderstandings. Thus for one woman Tetrapak und sein Comeback meant Eier, and for another Tips und Tricks meant schönes Gemüse, because of the illustration of a gardener holding a basket of vegetables. The photograph of a kitten used in the advertisement for Whiskas stimulated positive responses to the advertisement rather that to the brand-name itself from five of the group (Aah, s'Büüsi!).

One elderly woman was certain that the slogan Fun 4 You was Japanese, and the figure `4' a Japanese character. To her this was a perfectly acceptable attempt to target Japanese tourists.

Associations for the English words were frequently negative or simply not expressed; a mere 10% of the appropriate questions were answered, and 50% of this small proportion received neutral responses such as sachlich and modern. Positive associations included aufwertend and schön for Whiskas, tiefgründig for the Tetrapak headline, and vielversprechend for Moisture Plus and The Essence of Beauty.

Three pensioners protested that the phrase Swiss Burger was a misspelling of Schweizer Bürger and an insult to all Swiss citizens.

Age-group 2 (41-60 years old)

The 20-40 year-old age-group was a heterogeneous group from the point of view of professions. It was observed during the collation of data that informants' attitudes depended more upon educational background than age for both Age-group 2 and 3. Due to the similarities between the two groups, an amalgamation could have been seen as beneficial to the presentation of statistics, particularly in view of the disparity in the numbers of informants for the different age-groups, with Age-group 4 outnumbering the other groups. It was decided, however, to keep the groups 2 and 3 separate, because their reactions differed in a few significant aspects; furthermore, Age-group 2 occasionally showed common features with Age-group 1, and Age-group 3 with Age-group 4.

Almost every response possible was recorded for Age-group 2. Worthy of mention are positive responses for Fun 4 You, Pampers (because of the practicality of the term) and Brunch (because members of the group used the term); negative associations were expressed for Swiss Burger and jeansig.

Age-group 3 (21-40 years old)

In most respects the results recorded for this group closely matched those for Age-group 2. Age-group 3 consisted of informants from a variety of professions, with a slightly higher proportion of members of the B-category professions than Age-group 2.

Negative associations were similar to those expressed by Age-group 2. Positive associations which were not expressed by members of Age-group 2 were elicited by 30-Minuten-Timer, Voyager, and Airbag.

Age-group 4 (15-20 years old)

This was the most homogeneous of the age-groups and also the largest, consisting of students in full-time education and apprentices taking day-release courses in English. Ten members of this group read only youth magazines and comics, 28 read a selection of newspapers including their local weekly newspaper and occasionally the NZZ. Approximately 80% of this group watched television for over twenty hours per week.

Many younger people preferred English slogans to possible German translations. For instance in the case of Fun 4 You it was felt that the word fun encapsulated emotions that could not be adequately captured by German Plausch, Spass, or Vergnügen, and that the use of you saved one from having to decide between du and Sie.

Young people were the most inclined of all age-groups to judge an English word as having been fully integrated into the German language. Pink was considered to be a German word by six young women. Young people frequently suggested hybrid forms as supposedly German equivalents for English expressions, such as Fun für Dich, Fühle die Differenz for Feel the Difference, Countdown von 30 Minuten for 30-Minuten-Timer, and spielender Boy for Gameboy.

The word Workshop proved the most confusing for the young informants. Eight young people offered the alternative Arbeitsladen, which could be seen as a exact loan translation of the English model, but it was not possible to judge if the informants knew what they meant by this term. Further wrong translations included: Atelier, wo du schaffst (i.e. `studio where you work'), Geschäft, wo man Werkzeuge kauft ('shop selling tools'), Bastelladen (hand-craft shop), Job and Ausstellung.

This group expressed the fewest negative associations in relation to the 25 items of English vocabulary. New loanwords and unassimilated slogans were particularly popular. Fun 4 You was considered lustig, interessant, exotisch; jeansig, a term disliked by nearly all informants from Age-groups 1-3, was judged locker, frech, toll, mal was Neues. Female informants from this group were the most enthusiastic of all informants about the terms for beauty products, although they were rarely able to give a precise definition of the words, the majority suggesting Make-up as a `German' translation for Moisture Plus and The Essence of Beauty.

Older loans, such as On the Rocks and Tips und Tricks were occasionally condemned as altmodisch and nichtssagend; gut was the most common positive association, followed by modern, which in many cases could have been intended as a neutral description.

Age-groups 1 and 2 contrasted with Groups 3 and 4

The participants who belonged to a broader `over-forty' age-group occasionally shared opinions which opposed those expressed by the majority of informants under the age of forty, as can be illustrated by the views on the term 30-Minuten-Timer, which is a new term for an object that has existed for some time. Most informants from Age-groups 1 and 2 felt that a suitable German equivalent could be found for 30-Minuten-Timer, as they were used to the terms 3-Minuten-Uhr `egg-timer' and 30-Minuten-Wecker (for cookers). Most participants under the age of forty felt that neither Uhr nor Wecker accurately expressed the meaning of English timer; some suggested that Zeitmesser was the true German equivalent, although most thought that Timer was less cumbersome.

A similar grouping of attitudes was noted for the terms Voyager, Airbag and Gameboy, both of which were more readily understood and judged more positively by members of Age-groups 3 and 4.

Age-groups 1 and 4 contrasted with Groups 2 and 3

Certain new arrivals in the German language, such as Workshop, Laptop and Troubleshooting were considered to be opaque by members of Age-groups 1 and 4. This may be explained by the fact that members of Age-groups 2 and 3, at least those who belong to the A Category professions, have experience of the concepts themselves, whereas the very young have not yet had experience in the workplace, and the older informants were not exposed to such concepts during their working lives.

3.4.3 General summary of associations

Fun 4 You
positive: lustig, modern, oberflächlich (in conjunction with positive epithets) exotisch, vielversprechend, anziehend, interessant, super, lustig
negative: unschweizerisch, irritierend, oberflächlich (in conjunction with negative associations), altmodisch (!), aufgeblasen
neutral: ironisch.

Feel the Difference
positive: vielversprechend, aufwertend, spannend, interessant
negative: altmodisch, abstossend, nichtssagend, langweilig, elitär, abgedroschen, katastrophal, Quatsch, "kein Hotel für Schweizer".

Built to Set you Free
positive: anziehend, interessant, aufwertend, vielversprechend, abenteuerlich
negative: abstossend, langweilig, oberflächlich, nichtssagend, eine Lüge (Autos machen nicht frei).

The Essence of Beauty
positive (female informants only): vielversprechend, aufwertend, poetisch
negative: nichtssagend, altmodisch, langweilig, übertrieben, oberflächlich.

Tetrapak und sein Comeback
positive: vielversprechend, aufwertend, schlau, zeitgemäss
negative: nichtssagend, altmodisch, langweilig, übertrieben, oberflächlich, ärgerlich, nüchtern, Quatsch
neutral: sachlich, zeitgemäss.

positive: passend, zutreffend; neutral: bekannt, gut; negative: ärgerlich.

positive: originell, lustig, schön
negative: nichtssagend
neutral: eingebürgert.

positive: anziehend, modern, interessant
negative: blöd, langweilig.

positive: aufwertend, vielversprechend, romantisch
negative: unpassend, oberflächlich
neutral: sachlich.

positive: aufwertend, vielversprechend
negative: angeberisch, dumm
neutral: sachlich, fachsprachlich, nötig, modern.

positive: aufwertend, vielversprechend
negative: unverständlich
neutral: sachlich, modern.

negative: seelenlos, langweilig
neutral: modern, sachlich, notwendig, international.

positive (or ironic): in, modern, aufwertend
negative: trocken, dumm, phantasielos, nichtssagend, oberflächlich
neutral: sachlich.

positive: anziehend, tiefgründig
negative: elitär, oberflächlich, dämlich
neutral: sachlich.

Tips und Tricks
positive: zeitgemäss, modern, zutreffend
negative: langweilig, altmodisch.

positive (female informants only): interessant
negative: abstossend, zu kompliziert.

Pink Ginger
positive (female informants only): vielversprechend, anziehend
negative: elitär, unverständlich, nichtssagend.

Moisture Plus
positive (female informants only): anziehend, vielversprechend, romantisch, sexy
negative: nichtssagend, abstossend, langweilig, blöd, übertrieben, werbesprachlich.

On the Rocks
negative: elitär, überflüssig, altmodisch
positive: weniger banal als `mit Eis', modern, aufwertend.

Swiss Burger
positive (mostly Age-group 4): lustig, interessant, modisch
negative (mostly Age-groups 1-3): lächerlich, ärgerlich, anbiedernd, unnötig.

negative: angeberisch, blöd
neutral: modern, eingebürgert, sachlich, geheimnisvoll.

positive: gut, nötig, kurz, gebräuchlich
negative: anglomanisch, langweilig, unnötig
neutral: sachlich, modern.

positive: tiefgründig, praktisch (`da kurz'), locker
negative: geschmacklos, abwertend, altmodisch
neutral: modern, sachlich, üblich, eingebürgert.

positive: anziehend, vielsagend, vielversprechend, aufwertend, umweltbewusst
negative: nichtssagend, abwertend, übertrieben, idiotisch, hybrid, hässlich, nicht nötig
neutral: modern, sachlich, üblich, eingebürgert, inn (sic).

positive (Age-group 4): locker, frech, unkompliziert, jugendlich, rassig, toll, sexy, cool, mal was Neues
negative (Age-groups 1-3): hybrid, dumm, oberflächlich, grosser Quatsch.

The associations evoked by the `Reizwörter' were occasionally hampered by the fact that some of these could be evaluated as either positive, negative or neutral, e.g. modern, ironisch and even oberflächlich: usually I was able to decide which meaning to allocate such an epithet on the basis of the other associations provided; if none were available, I counted the epithet as neutral, along with answers such as weiss nicht and keine Meinung. Associations such as vielversprechend and aufwertend were common with products and objects whose name or slogan implied the achievement of some specific affect, e.g. Built to Set you Free, Feel the Difference, Airbag and recyclebar. A similar possible interference from the attributes of the product may also be evident in the common association of anziehend and vielversprechend with the terms designating make-up and clothing, e.g. The Essence of Beauty, Moisture Plus, Pink Ginger, Halterneck-Body.


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