Influences the grammar of rap songs

German rap and youth language. Decline or enrichment of language?

Table of Contents

1 Introduction

2. Text type

3. The language in rap

4. Youth language and German rap

5. The lexicon of German-speaking rap
5.1. Anglicisms
5.2. Anglicisms in German rap texts
5.3. Ethnolects
5.4. Ethnolects in German rap
5.5. Vulgar language

6. Foreshortenings and omissions

7. Because verb second position

8. Conclusion

9. Bibliography

10. Lyrics directory

11. Appendix

1 Introduction

With "spoken text bound by rhythm and rhyme"1 the language is in the foreground, while the music acts more as an accompaniment. In contrast to other musical genres, rap music is more text-centric and differs from other musical genres such as the complexity of articulation it achieves. B. Pop music.2 Due to its colloquial orientation, the language in rap is often referred to as the "language of the street [sic]"3 designated. It is precisely this proximity to the spoken everyday language that makes the linguistic forms of expression of German rappers the subject of public disputes. Not only the non-normative ways of speaking in rap, but also the song topics are still the trigger of controversy today. The focus of such discussions is the so-called "gangsta rap", in which criminal, violent or sexually offensive behavior is propagated.

In this term paper, the use of language in German gangsta rap is analyzed. Individual features on the levels of lexicons, grammar and syntax, which are at the center of current language criticism, are examined. These linguistic phenomena were selected on the basis of their frequency of use in the rap texts and their mention in language-critical and linguistic puristic contexts. There will be no separate analysis part in this study, since the naming and theoretical explanation of the linguistic features will be accompanied by illustrative examples from the rap texts. Since rap as part of hip-hop culture is one of the most influential youth cultures worldwide, the youth language and its connection to the language in rap is also examined in more detail.4

Although rap is negotiated in numerous different disciplines (e.g. psychoanalysis or consumer research) and a number of articles have been written on the subject, only a few of them meet scientific standards, as most of them are popular scientific and journalistic publications.5

The aim of this thesis is to check whether the negative judgments about the language use in German rap are justified and whether in this context there can be talk of a negative influence on the standard language.

2. Text type

In this thesis, rap is treated as a type of text that can be determined by means of formal text surface features. In order to belong to this classification, the texts must have the characteristics “oral realization”, “basic unanimity”, “rhythmic connection to the 4/4 time” and “rhyme-related”, which are constitutive for all texts of this type of text.6 On the content level, rap texts are not subject to any restrictions, as rap "is suitable for dealing with all imaginable topics and objects"7 is. In the proximity-distance model by Koch / Österreicher, song texts are generally assigned to the pole of written form and oral form, since the texts are both conceived in writing and implemented orally.8 Wolbring defines rap not only as a type of text, but also as a genre, since it is a form of poetry.9

3. The language in rap

The language represents the sign system of rap, whereby the activity of rap creators can be described as a language-related or literary one.10 The predominance of language in rap can be explained etymologically, among other things, since the spoken poem is rooted in "spoken-word poetry".11 But the origins of the art form go back even further. Wolbring and Androutsopoulos associate the verb “to rap” with Afro-American slang, although the authors ascribe different meanings to it (“chatting” with Wolbring and “lively talking / bragging” with Androutsopoulos).12 Nonetheless, both assignments of meanings clarify the inherent language-relatedness of the verb and thus also of the music genre.13

4. Youth language and German rap

Neuland defines youth language as the "practice of a particular use of language by young people"14. In linguistic research, the term youth language is controversial because of the assumption of the language the Youth is problematic because, on the one hand, youth does not exist as a homogeneous group and, on the other hand, the period in which the youth takes place is difficult to determine, because "their [youth] scope varies depending on individual living conditions and can, including postadolescence, up to the end of the third Can be extended by the decade of life. "15 From a linguistic point of view, the language used by young people is not an “own” or “other” language. Rather, language styles rely on the stock of the standard language, such as B. on word formation devices such as abbreviations or semantic processes such as changes in meaning.16

Towards the end of the 1970s, youth language emerged as an international phenomenon as a result of the so-called “youth revolts”.17 Their mass media dissemination in public (youth language as "media construct"18 ) leads to the formation of negative judgments, such as B. to the assertion that the youth language is the cause of comprehension problems between the generations and also a trigger of negative influences on the general language.19 The newspaper “Sprachnachrichten” of the Association for German Language wrote in 2008: “Your [young people] spoken German is incorrect. Grammar, lexicons and pronunciation deviate considerably from recognized rules. "20

In this study, the language in rap is understood as part of the language of young people, as "the category 'youth' is inextricably linked to the media"21 and young people "have developed differentiated vocabulary registers in comparable subject areas (music, leisure, social contacts)."22 Music is one of the most important areas of adolescent media consumption, so the variety of different music styles and scenes can serve as possible sources of identity for adolescents.23 Various media can act as "language donors"24 act, i.e. that "linguistic elements from various cultural and media areas [...] are removed from the matrix of the existing contexts and transferred into a new linguistic and youth-cultural context."25 A reciprocal influencing relationship can be observed between rap and youth language, in which on the one hand the rap creators exert a great influence on the speaking behavior of young people, as the latter take up words from the songs and integrate them into their language. On the other hand, because rapists continue and develop general tendencies in youth language, many youth language features can be found in the song lyrics.26 For this reason, the criticism of the youth language also affects the hip-hop or rap language.

5. The lexicon of German-speaking rap

In its lexical design, German-speaking rap is characterized by its great variability. Due to the basic orientation towards the spoken everyday and youth language as well as slangs, the rappers have a certain leeway that allows them to deal creatively with language, since these language varieties are less standardized than the standard language. Wolbring explains the prejudice about the limited vocabulary of rap workers with the orientation towards informal "substandard" language registers. By using swear words and vulgar expressions or the inclusion of slangs like that Kanak Sprak the rappers are often accused of having an "anti-intellectual habitus".27

In the following chapters, the vocabulary of rap creators will be examined for the use of group-specific ways of speaking. In particular, the "code switching", i.e. the flexible switching back and forth between different language registers, is examined more closely here.28

5.1. Anglicisms

The English language exercises as a "lingua franca"29 a continuous influence on the German language, "especially in the lexical-semantic area"30. The term Anglicism refers to words that "come from English in whole or in part"31. The term does not only mean lexical units from English, but "all linguistic phenomena (morphemes, lexemes, phraseologemes) that owe their existence to English linguistic phenomena"32.

The adoption of words of English origin can be perceived as linguistic purism or as linguistic enrichment, depending on the point of view. However, the first aspect more represents the view of public opinion. Because the term is increasingly used in language-critical contexts, the designation is liable Anglicism a negative connotation.33 The rejection of English foreign words is based on the opinion that they remain foreign despite being integrated into the German language system and are also incomprehensible, as their use makes understanding more difficult.34 Another point of criticism relates to the alleged excess of Anglicisms.35 The English-language foreign words, especially the newer ones, are characterized by critics as superfluous.36 Others also associate the use of Anglicisms with showing off or a lack of national self-confidence among Germans.37

When looking at the history of language, it becomes clear that such arguments are not new, since language purists already had the "problem of foreign words" in the 17th century.38 thematized in satirical texts, stories and epigrams. In addition, language critics targeted loans from French as early as the 18th century.39 The negative attitude towards foreign words does not only apply to English-language words, but to all foreign influences.40

Since the 20th century, and especially in the decades after 1945, the number of Anglicisms has risen considerably and with it the fear of a German-English mixture of languages.41 The so-called “Denglisch” or “Germeng” is seen as the main cause of the “decay” of the German language, especially in media reporting.42

5.2. Anglicisms in German rap texts

The density of Anglicism in German rap texts is due to the fact that German-language rap is an offshoot of the American one.43 Group-specific ways of speaking or slangs, especially the African American Vernacular English "AAVE", have influenced rap, especially on the lexical level, in all languages ​​and nations.44 Wolbring sees the reason for the use of foreign English words in German rap songs in a “general Anglophilia”, which, however, also affects youth and advertising language.45 Androutsopoulos combines the frequency of the use of Anglicisms with the "coolness" it conveys.46 The youth language and the intensive use of foreign words, especially of Anglicisms, are often associated. Zifonun describes young people as "pioneers who like to experiment when it comes to the linguistic integration of Anglicisms"47. Pauli counts borrowings from English as youth language peculiarities, but she specifies that the adoption of English verbosity is not specific to youth language, but that the use of individual borrowings such as "cool" is characteristic of young people.48

At the end of January 2020, the news magazine "Der Spiegel" published an article in which the vocabulary of German gangsta rappers was presented in the form of a graphic based on an analysis of the "frequency of selected terms and synonyms in the top 100 of the German rap annual charts".49 Of the 34 words, nine are anglicisms. The most frequently used word “cash / money” (173 times) also comes from English. There are eight English nouns and one adjective in total. Other words that have been adopted from the colloquial Afro-American English and are increasingly used in German-language rap texts include: B. Swear words like bitch or synonyms like blunt (Joint).

German rappers such as B. Shindy or Kollegah are constantly code-switching by using English instead of German in their songs. The sentence structure remains unchanged. Instead of "And you freaks thought I was broke" Shindy says, "And you freaks thought I was broke “(Shindy:“ Affalterbach) and instead of “You want to quarrel”, Kollegah says “You want Beef "(Kollegah:" King "). Sometimes you also come across larger code switching parts within a text, such as B. Shindy, who used a sample of an English-language song for his intro ('Yeah, don't get it twisted, this rap shit is mine, motherfucker! It's not a fucking game!' - Shindy: “Affalterbach” / Sample from DMX: "X Gon 'Give It to Ya").

Numerous German rappers adopt phraseologisms from American rap and translate them into German. B. Fler “we do our thing” (Fler: “Loyalty”) instead of “We do our thing” or Kollegah says “what's going on?” Instead of “What's going on?” (Kollegah: “Lunar eclipse”). These formulations have already become established in German usage. The code mixing is also typical for German-speaking rap. In numerous songs by German rappers, you can find Germanized slang and mixed terms such as dissed ("Now your block is being dissed" - Eko Fresh: "1000 Bars"), Walk ("Your whole shitty Gehate" - Summer Cem: "Crying") or pimp up ("I show up with a pimped up Bentley" - Kollegah: "Discospeed").

Some Anglicisms are used by the black people because there is no equivalent German word. The rapper Capital Bra uses z. B. the foreign word "One-Night-Stand" several times in his song of the same name (Capital Bra: "One Night Stand"). Junker et al. represent a linguistic purist attitude in their work, because such formations are described by the authors as superfluous. Such foreign words are accused of making communication unnecessarily difficult. But the attempt to replace or to Germanize English words is not always feasible. B. that of Junker et al. proposed equivalent " One night “Clarifies.50

Most of the Anglicisms that appear in German rap texts are borrowed words, i. This means that the English words have been adopted and adapted to the German grammar system (e.g. English nouns are capitalized in German). There are also examples of loan translations (“Look, the media do Brainwashing "- Nate 57:" Fuck the world "), loan transfers (" I have houses, big like skyscraper "- Kollegah:" royal aura "), loan meanings (" Realize more and more that life loves me ”- Bonez MC:“ Gratitude ”) and pseudo-Anglicisms (“ my mobile is ringing ”- Capital Bra“ Just Gucci ”) in the rap lyrics.

5.3. Ethnolects

European and thus also German rap songs are no longer limited to a specific ethnic variety of American English. The internal and external multilingualism in European countries means that "regional languages, social dialects, migrant languages ​​and non-native language varieties of the national language are included in rap texts"51 Find. When looking at the "Top 20" of the German hip-hop charts (as of February 25, 2020) it becomes clear that predominantly rappers with a migration background (14/20) enjoy great popularity in Germany. In comparison, only three Germans and two Americans made it into the top 20.52 Accordingly, it stands to reason that the rappers integrate numerous foreign words, especially from their mother tongue, into their texts and mix them with German. In this way, according to Canoğlu, the musicians reflect the zeitgeist as well as the social and linguistic tendencies of society.53


1 Wolbring, Fabian (2015): The Poetics of German Rap. Göttingen: unipress Verlag. (= Westward. Studies on Pop Culture Volume 2), p. 15.

2 See ibid., P. 128.

3 Androutsopoulos, Jannis (2003) (Ed.): HipHop. Global culture - local practices. Bielefeld: transcript Verlag. (= Cultural studies Volume 3), p. 119.

4 Cf. Neuland, Eva (2000): Youth Language in Discussion.Opinions, results, demands. In: Eichhoff-Cyrus, Karin M./Hoberg, Rudolf (Hrsg.): The German language at the turn of the millennium. Language culture or language decline? Mannheim [among others]: Dudenverlag, p. 111. (= topic German volume 1)

5 See Wolbring (2015, 25 f.)

6 See Wolbring (2015, 247)

7 Ibid.

8 Cf. Stein, Stephan (2004): Texts, Text Types and Text Networking. About the benefits of text linguistics (not only) for foreign language didactics. In: Lüger, Heinz-Helmut / Rotenhäusler, Rainer (ed.): Linguistics for the foreign language German. Landau. P. 177 f.

9 See Wolbring (2015, 246)

10 See Androutsopoulos (2003, 111 & 129)

11 See Wolbring (2015, 129)

12 See Wolbring (2015, 16) & See Androutsopoulos (2003, 119)

13 See Wolbring (2015, 15)

14 Neuland, Eva (2008): Youth Language. An introduction. Tübingen: A. Francke Verlag, p. 1.

15 Androutsopoulos, Jannis (2001): From fat to fabulous: youth language in the language biography. In: Osnabrück Contributions to Language Theory 62, p. 56 & cf. Neuland (2008, 25)

16 See Neuland (2000, 115 ff.)

17 See Neuland (2008, 25) & See Bußmann, Hadumod (2002) (Ed.): Lexikon der Sprachwissenschaft. Third, updated and expanded edition Stuttgart: Alfred Kröner Verlag, p. 326.

18 See Neuland (2008, 19)

19 See Neuland (2008, foreword) & See Neuland (2000, 108)

20 Pogarell, Rainer (2008): Medium-sized catastrophe: A million speechless young people. In: VDS Sprachnachrichten 7, p. 1.

21 Pauli, Stephanie (2010): "Hey dude, you are the word checker!" Youth language: An empirical study of the language attitudes of teenagers and adults. Hamburg: tredition Verlag, p. 22.

22 Neuland (2000, 110)

23 See Pauli (2010, 22 f.)

24 Ibid.

25 Neuland (200, 118)

26 See Wolbring (2015, 478)

27 See ibid., Pp. 266-269)

28 See Wolbring (2015, 267)

29 Hoberg, Rudolf (2000): Will we all soon be speaking Denglisch or Germeng? In: Eichhoff-Cyrus, Karin M./Hoberg, Rudolf (ed.): The German language at the turn of the millennium. Language culture or language decline? Mannheim [among others]: Dudenverlag, p. 303. (= topic German volume 1)

30 Eggarter, C. (1995): Anglicisms in German. To integrate the English verbatim into German. In: Moderne Sprachen 39, p. 123.

31 Eisenberg, P. (2011): The foreign word in German. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, p. 3.

32 Götzeler, Christiane (2008). Anglicisms in the press. Bremen: Hempen Verlag, p. 171.

33 See Götzeler (2008, 158)

34 Cf. Pinnau, Heike (2015): Anglicisms in contemporary German. Handling and effects. URL: [03/06/2020], p. 69.

35 See Neuland (2008, 17)

36 See Hoberg (2000, 313)

37 See ibid., P. 313 f.

38 Pinnau (2015, 67)

39 See Neuland (2008, 17)

40 See Hoberg (2000, 313)

41 See ibid., P. 306.

42 See Neuland (2008, 17)

43 See Wolbring (2015, 21)

44 See ibid., P. 256.

45 See ibid., P. 276.

46 Cf. Androutsopoulos, Jannis (1998): Deutsche Jugendsprache. Investigations into their structures and functions. Frankfurt am Main [among others]: Peter Lang Verlag, p. 578.

47 Zifonun, Gisela: (2000). Grammatical integration of youth language Anglicisms. In: Der Deutschunterricht 4, p. 71.

48 See Pauli (2008, 35)

49 [03/06/2020]

50 See Junker, Gerhard (2003) (Ed.): Die VDS-Anglizismenliste 2003. Paderborn: IFB Verlag, p. 15.

51 Androutsopoulos (2003, 120) / regional features are not considered in this study because they are only heard occasionally in German rap. (see also Androutsopoulos 2003, 120)

52 [02/25/2020]

53 Cf. Canoğlu, Hatice Deniz (2012): Kanak Sprak versus Kiezdeutsch - language decay or linguistic special case? An ethnolinguistic study. Berlin: Frank & Timme Verlag. (= Linguistics Volume 11)

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