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Anglicization or Anglicisation (see -ise vs -ize) is a process of conversion of verbal or written elements of any other language into a more comprehensible English for an English speaker.[1]

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 anglicized – the name of an immigrant to England becomes anglicized as he or she integrates into the society.



Non-English words may be anglicized by changing their form and pronunciation to something more familiar to English speakers. For example, the Latin word obscenus /obskeːnus/ has been imported into English in the modified form obscene /əbˈsiːn/. 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 Anglicization of the Old French damoisele (modern demoiselle), meaning "young lady". Another form of anglicizing 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 anglicized in English. Examples include the Italian cities of Napoli and Milano, known in English as Naples and Milan, the German city of München (Munich), the Danish city of København (Copenhagen), the Swedish city of Göteborg (Gothenburg), the Dutch city of Den Haag (The Hague), the Spanish city of Zaragoza (formerly Saragossa), a number of Arabic speaking places, like Cairo (القاهرة Al-Qāhira). Such Anglicization was once universal: nearly all cities and people discussed in English literature up to the mid-20th century had their names anglicized. 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 (Mandarin) 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 -> Chongqing [重庆], Shíjiāzhuāng -> Shijiazhuang [石家庄] in China, Kyōto -> Kyoto [京都] in Japan).

De-Anglicization 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.[2] As a consequence, anglicized names have been officially discouraged in many places: Ireland's Kingstown has reverted back to its original Irish name of Dún Laoghaire, and India's Bombay is now Mumbai (although Bombay is still commonly used by locals when speaking English). Many Chinese endonyms have become de-anglicised, like Peking, Tsingtao are now more commonly called Beijing (北京), Qingdao (青岛).

In other cases, established anglicised names have remained in common use where there is no national pride at stake: this is the case with Ghent (Gent/Gand), Munich (München), Cologne (Köln), Vienna (Wien), Naples (Napoli), Rome (Roma), Milan (Milano), Athens (Αθήνα/Athina), Moscow (Москва/Moskva), Saint Petersburg (Санкт-Петербург/Sankt-Peterburg), Warsaw (Warszawa), Prague (Praha), Bucharest (Bucureşti), Belgrade (Београд/Beograd), Lisbon (Lisboa) and other European cities whose names have been familiar in their anglicized forms for centuries. However, the de-anglicized 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. Vienna (Vienne), Venice (Venise). Prague 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, Turin in the Piedmont province of Italy was named Turin in the original Piedmontese language, but is now officially known as Torino 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.[3] The International Olympic Committee made the choice to officially regard the city as "Torino" throughout the 2006 Winter Olympics.

The English/French name for Florence 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 States and United Kingdom 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 (Benoit, pronounced BEN-wah, became Ben-OYT). In some cases, it could go either way (Gagné, pronounced gon-YAY, become GAG-nee or Gonyea), or something only slightly similar (Bourassa became Bersaw).

Surnames often changed within the United Kingdom. A good example of this can be seen in the surnames of many Irish families – for example, Ó Briain has often become O'Brien, Ó Rothláin became Rowland, and Ó Néill became O'Neill. Similarly, native Scottish names were altered such as Somhairle to Sorley, Mac Gill-Eain to MacLean, and Mac Aoidh to MacKay. Many Welsh names have also been altered, such as 'ap Hywell' to Powell, or 'ap Siôn' to Jones.

The Anglicization 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 anglicized 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 anglicized to John).


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

The Anglicization of other languages

A more recent linguistic development is Anglicization 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 Anglicization is seen as relatively benign, and the use of English words may even take on a chic aspect. In Japan marketing products for the domestic market often involves using English or pseudo-English brand names and slogans. In other countries, Anglicization 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 France insists on the use of French neologisms to describe technological inventions in place of imported English terms.

Anglicization of minority language groups

The adoption of English as a personal, preferred language is another form of Anglicization. Calvin Veltman, following the methods of analysis developed in Québec, Canada 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 Anglicization 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.


  1. ^ Veltman, Calvin J. (1983). Language Shift in the United States. Walter de Gruyter. ISBN 9027932107. 
  2. ^ Hyde, Douglas (25 November 1892). "The Necessity for De-Anglicizing Ireland". Retrieved on 2008-03-27. 
  3. ^ Owen, James (March 6, 2006). "From "Turin" to "Torino": Olympics Put New Name on the Map". National Geographic. Retrieved on 2008-03-27. 

See also


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary



Wikipedia has an article on:


Alternative spellings


  • (UK) IPA: /ˌæŋ.glɪ.saɪˈzeɪ.ʃǝn/, /ˌæŋ.glɪ.səˈzeɪ.ʃǝn/
    Rhymes: -eɪʃǝn




anglicisation (uncountable)

  1. The process by which something or someone (usually a word) is made more English. Usually applied to language or culture.
    The name Dublin, the capital of Ireland, is an anglicisation of the gaelic name dubh linn

Related terms

See also

  • English language
  • Cultural imperialism

Simple English

The English Wiktionary has dictionary definitions (meanings of a word) for:

Anglicisation or Anglicization (see -ise vs -ize) is the act of changing of spoken or written elements of another language into a more understandable form for an English speaker.

For instance, Rome is spelled "Roma" in Italian. English speakers call the city "Rome" to make it sound more English. Another example is the city of Moscow in Russia. In Russian, the city is pronounced like "Moskva". Still, English speakers call the city "Moscow" because it is easier to say.


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