A corpus-based study of the adaptation of English import words in Norwegian

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This paper focuses on English influence on Norwegian lexis and addresses the orthographic adaptation of import words, such as the change from <i>blog</i> to <i>blogg</i>, or <i>squash</i> to <i>skv&#229;sj</i>. This adaptation can be viewed from a top-down perspective, by considering the effect of standardisation decisions made by the Norwegian Language Council, or from a bottom-up perspective, by considering unsolicited adaptation initiated by the language users themselves. Both types are observable in the 900 million word Norwegian Newspaper Corpus (NNC). The paper aims to show that the NNC lends itself easily to a large-scale investigation of either top-down or bottom-up adaptation. First of all, the corpus-based investigation illustrates the extent to which English-based import words are represented using original or adapted orthography. Secondly, the corpus provides empirical data that may shed significant light on the linguistic aspects of the adaptation process. Thus, through a quantitative and qualitative inspection of the data, I point to a set of linguistic and contextual factors that appear to have important bearings on the degree to which words undergo spelling adaptation. At the same time, the paper is intended to illustrate the usefulness of some of the facilities of the newly developed Corpuscle search engine and interface and to show its value when applied to a specific empirical research task.


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