A case study of discourse on anglicisms in German.
“By recognizing our uncanny strangeness, we shall neither suffer from it nor enjoy it from the outside. The foreigner is within me, hence we are all foreigners. If I am a foreigner, there are no foreigners.” (Julia Kristeva, Strangers to Ourselves (1991)).
Is Kristeva's dissolution of the notion ‘foreign’ also applicable to language? The nature of language as a semiotic system of arbitrarily bound units of meaning and form determines the essential foreignness of signifier and signified. As such, every linguistic unit is indeed intrinsically foreign on the level of designation and, thus, there is no foreign language. On the surface of human communication, however, incomprehensibility among speakers can emerge as a criterion of foreignness. The perception of the foreign in language is particularly tied to situations of contact between different language-cultural areas. Such contact can occur internally in a multilingual speaker or can be observed externally as happening in the speech community. In both ways, crucial to language contact is a perceived intertwining of linguistic units from at least two distant, i.e. incomprehensible, codes culturally rooted in diverse speech communities.