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Anglicisation or Anglicization (see -ise vs -ize) is a process of conversion of verbal or written elements of any other language into a more comprehensible English form for an English speaker.

The term most often refers to the process of altering the pronunciation or spelling of a foreign word when it is borrowed into English as it is a very pliable language. Personal names may also be anglicised – the name of an immigrant to an English speaking nation becomes anglicised as he or she integrates into the society.


Non-English words may be Anglicised by changing their form and pronunciation to something more familiar to English speakers. For example, the Latin word obscenus has been imported into English in the modified form obscene . Changing endings in this manner is especially common, and can be frequently seen when foreign words are imported into any language. For example, the English word damsel is an Anglicisation of the Old French damoisele (modern demoiselle), meaning "young lady". Another form of Anglicising is the inclusion of a foreign article as part of a noun (such as alkali from the Arabic al-qili).

Proper names

Place names

Place names are commonly anglicised in English. Examples include the Italianmarker cities of Napoli and Milano, known in English as Naplesmarker and Milanmarker, the Germanmarker city of München (Munichmarker), the Danishmarker city of København (Copenhagenmarker), the Swedishmarker city of Göteborg (Gothenburgmarker), the Dutchmarker city of Den Haag (The Haguemarker), the Spanishmarker city of Zaragozamarker (formerly Saragossa), a number of Arabic speaking places, like Cairomarker (القاهرة Al-Qāhira). Such Anglicisation was once universal: nearly all cities and people discussed in English literature up to the mid-20th century had their names anglicised. In the late 20th century, however, use of non-English names in English began to become more common. When dealing with languages that use the same Latin alphabet as English, names are now more usually written in English as they exist in their local language, sometimes even with diacritical marks that do not normally exist in English. With languages that use non-Latin alphabets, such as the Arabic, Cyrillic, Greek, Korean Hangul and other alphabets a direct transliteration is typically used, which is then often pronounced according to English rules. Non-Latin based languages may use standard romanisation systems, such as Japanese Rōmaji or Chinese Pīnyīn. The Japanese and Chinese names are spelled English following these spellings with some common exceptions, usually without Chinese tone marks and Japanese macrons for long vowels (Chóngqìng -> Chongqingmarker (重慶/重庆), Shíjiāzhuāng -> Shijiazhuangmarker (石家莊/石家庄) in Chinamarker, Kyōto -> Kyoto (京都) in Japanmarker).

De-Anglicisation has become a matter of national pride in some places and especially in regions that were once under colonial rule, where vestiges of colonial domination are a sensitive subject. As a consequence, anglicised names have been officially discouraged in many places: Irelandmarker's Kingstown has reverted back to its original Irish name of Dún Laoghairemarker, Indiamarker's Bombaymarker is now Mumbaimarker (although Bombay is still commonly used by locals when speaking English) and Madras is now Chennai. Many Chinese endonyms have become de-anglicised, like how Cantonmarker is now more commonly called Guangzhoumarker (廣州/广州) and Peking is now referred to as Beijing (北京).

In other cases, established anglicised names have remained in common use where there is no national pride at stake: this is the case with Ghentmarker (Gent/Gand), Munichmarker (München), Cologne (Köln), Viennamarker (Wien), Naplesmarker (Napoli), Romemarker (Roma), Milanmarker (Milano), Athensmarker (Αθήνα/Athina), Moscowmarker (Москва/Moskva), Saint Petersburgmarker (Санкт-Петербург/Sankt-Peterburg), Warsawmarker (Warszawa), Praguemarker (Praha), Bucharestmarker (Bucureşti), Belgrademarker (Београд/Beograd), Lisbonmarker (Lisboa) and other European cities whose names have been familiar in their anglicised forms for centuries. However, the de-anglicised names now often appear as an alternative on maps, in airports, etc.

Often the English name reflects a French origin, sometimes unchanged from French, e.g. Cologne, sometimes changed slightly, e.g. Viennamarker (Vienne), Venicemarker (Venise). Praguemarker is the French spelling of the older Austro-Hungarian German name of Prag, rather than the Czech Praha.

Sometimes a place name can appear anglicised, but is not, such as when the form being used in English is an older name that has now been changed. For example, Turinmarker in the Piedmont province of Italymarker was named Turin in the original Piedmontese language, but is now officially known as Torinomarker in Italian. English-language media can sometimes overcompensate for this in the mistaken belief that the anglicised name was imposed by English speakers and is cultural domination. The International Olympic Committeemarker made the choice to officially regard the city as "Torino" throughout the 2006 Winter Olympics.

The English/French name for Florencemarker in Italy is closer to the original name in Latin (Florentia) than is the modern Italian name (Firenze).

Family and personal names

During the time in which there were large influxes of immigrants from Europe to the United Statesmarker and United Kingdommarker during the 19th and 20th centuries, the names of many immigrants were changed. Many times this happened right at arrival, with the immigration officials mishearing and writing down whatever they heard, or was done by the immigrants to give themselves a more American or British sounding name.

French immigrants to the United States (both those of Huguenot and French Canadian background) often accommodated those unfamiliar with French pronunciations and spellings by altering their surnames in either of two ways: spellings were changed to fit the traditional pronunciation (Pariseau became Parizo, Boucher became Bushey, Mailloux became Mayhew), or pronunciations were changed to fit the spelling (Benoît, pronounced , became ). In some cases, it could go either way (Gagné, pronounced , become or Gonyea), or something only slightly similar (Bourassa became Bersaw).

Most Irish names have been anglicised. A good example of this can be seen in the surnames of many Irishmarker families – for example, Ó Briain has often become O'Brien, Ó Rothláin became Rowland, Ó Néill became O'Neill and some surnames like O'Sullivan may be shortened to just Sullivan. Similarly, native Scottishmarker names were altered such as Somhairle to Sorley, Mac Gill-Eain to MacLean, and Mac Aoidh to MacKay. Many Welshmarker names have also been altered, such as 'ap Hywell' to Powell, or 'ap Siôn' to Jones.

The Anglicisation of a personal name now usually depends on the preferences of the bearer. Name changes are less common today for Europeans emigrating to the United States than they are for people originating in East Asian countries. For instance, Xiangyun might be anglicised to Sean as the pronunciation is similar (though Sean - or Seán - is Irish and is a Gaelicisation of the Anglo-Norman Jean, which itself has been anglicised to John).


In some cases ethnonyms may be anglicised from a term in another language (either the language of the group described or the language of another people).

The Anglicisation of other languages

A more recent linguistic development is Anglicisation of other languages, in which words are borrowed from English, making the other language more similar to English; such a word is known as an Anglicism. With the rise in Anglophone media and global spread of British and American cultures in the 20th and 21st centuries, many English terms have entered popular usage in other tongues. Technology-related English words like internet and computer are particularly common across the globe, as there are no pre-existing words for them. English words are sometimes imported verbatim, and sometimes adapted to the importing language in a process similar to anglicisation. In languages with non-Latin alphabets, these borrowed words can be written in the Latin alphabet anyway, resulting in a text made up of a mixture of scripts; other times they are transliterated. Transliteration of English and other foreign words into Japanese requires the special katakana script.

In some countries such Anglicisation is seen as relatively benign, and the use of English words may even take on a chic aspect. In Japanmarker marketing products for the domestic market often involves using English or pseudo-English brand names and slogans. In other countries, Anglicisation is seen much more negatively, and there are efforts by public-interest groups and governments to reverse the trend; for example, the Académie française in Francemarker insists on the use of French neologisms to describe technological inventions in place of imported English terms.

Anglicisation of minority language groups

The adoption of English as a personal, preferred language is another form of Anglicisation. Calvin Veltman, following the methods of analysis developed in Québecmarker, Canadamarker for establishing rates of language shift, uses the term to refer to the practice of individuals in minority language groups who cease using their mother tongue as their usual, preferred language and adopt English instead. When such individuals continue to speak their mother tongue, they are referred to as "English-dominant bilinguals" and when they cease to do so, they are referred to as "English monolinguals". Rates of Anglicisation may be calculated by comparing the number of people who usually speak English to the total number of people in any given minority language group.


See also

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