Date Thesis Awarded

4-2014

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelors of Arts (BA)

Department

Linguistics

Advisor

Anya Lunden

Committee Member

Jack Martin

Committee Member

Nicholas Popper

Abstract

Languages take loan words from other languages typically because of a need in the language or the prestige associated with the language being borrowed from. Historical and socio-political factors have the greatest influence on what a language borrows; languages have even fallen entirely out of use due to the influence of a more dominant speaker group. The Finnish language holds a unique position; it has maintained its autonomy from nearby Indo-European languages despite having been closely ruled by both Sweden and Russia in turn. This project examines how trends in loanwords into Finnish correlate with and reflect on the sociopolitical relations with other countries over the 20th century, as well as the how the advent of the internet and the globalization of English have influenced the Finnish language. I gathered data from the decades 1945-2005 from the newspaper, the Helsingin Sanomat and looked up the first 200 words from articles of national significance in an etymological dictionary, recording their origins to analyze any patterns of borrowing. This case study of Finnish reflects on the broader pattern of how the globalization of English is resulting in an increased frequency of English loanwords into other languages. This approach gives a holistic look at how a language has changed over time and how loanwords can be incorporated into a recipient language differently depending on their language of origin and political relations at the time.

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