Anglicisation or anglicization (see -ise vs -ize) is the process of converting verbal or written elements of any other language into a form that is more comprehensible to an English speaker. Or, more generally, to alter something such that it becomes English in form or character.
The term most often refers to the process of altering the pronunciation or spelling of a foreign word when it is borrowed into English. Personal names may also be anglicised. This was rather common for names of antiquity or of foreign heads of state, and it was and is also common among immigrants to English-speaking countries (e.g., Battenberg became Mountbatten).
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 /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 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).
Place names are commonly anglicised 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 Sevilla (Seville), a number of Arabic speaking places, like Cairo (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 (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 to Chongqing (重慶/重庆), Shíjiāzhuāng to Shijiazhuang (石家莊/石家庄), both in China, Kyōto to Kyoto (京都) in Japan).
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. Following centuries of English rule in Ireland, an argument for de-anglicisation was delivered before the Irish National Literary Society in Dublin, 25 November 1892; "When we speak of 'The Necessity for De-Anglicising the Irish Nation', we mean it, not as a protest against imitating what is best in the English people, for that would be absurd, but rather to show the folly of neglecting what is Irish, and hastening to adopt, pell-mell, and indiscriminately, everything that is English, simply because it is English." Despite its status as an official language, the Irish language has been reduced to a minority language in Ireland as a result of centuries of English rule, as is the case in North America where their indigenous languages have been replaced by that of the colonists. As a consequence of national pride, anglicised names have been officially discouraged in many places: Ireland's Kingstown, named by King George IV, has reverted to its original Irish name of Dún Laoghaire; India's Bombay is now Mumbai, even though this is not the oldest local name (see Toponymy of Mumbai) and "Bombay" is still commonly used in the city; Calcutta is Kolkata, Dacca is Dhaka and Madras is Chennai Many Chinese endonyms have become de-anglicised: Canton is now more commonly called Guangzhou (廣州/广州), and Peking is generally referred to as Beijing (北京), although this reflected a name change from Beiping (Peiping) to Beijing (Peking)with the de-anglicisation of the name taking place after the name change to reflect a pronunciation change in Mandarin.
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 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. Vienna (Vienne), Venice (Venise). The English city-name for the Czech capital - 'Prague' is taken verbatim from the French name for the city, itself descended from the Latin name for the city (Praga), which had been borrowed from an earlier Czech name (pre-dating the 'g'>'h' shift).
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. 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).
Historical personal names
In the past, the names of people from other language areas were anglicised to a higher extent than today. This was the general rule for names of Latin or (classical) Greek origin. Today, the anglicised name forms are often retained for the more common persons, like Aristotle for Aristoteles, and Adrian or (later) Hadrian for Hadrianus. However, less well-known persons from the antiquity now are often given their full name (in the nominative case).
For royalty, the anglicisation of personal name was a general phenomenon, partly until recently: Charles for Carlos, Karoly, and Karl; Frederic for Friedrich or Fredrik, et cetera. For popes, anglicisation is still the rule: Pope John Paul II instead of Ioannes Paulus II, Pope Benedict XVI instead of Benedictus XVI.
Immigrant 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 (Benoît, pronounced [bənwa], became /bɛnˈɔɪt/). In some cases, it could go either way (Gagné, pronounced [ɡaɲe], become /ˈɡæɡni/ 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 Irish families – for example, Ó Briain has often become O'Brien, Ó Rothláin became Rowland, Ó Néill became O'Neill and some surnames like Ó Súilleabháin may be shortened to just O'Sullivan or Sullivan. 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.
German names have also been anglicised (von Licht to Light) due to the German immigration waves during times of political instability in the late 19th century and early 20th century. A somewhat different special case was the politically motivated change of dynasty name in 1917 by the royal family of the United Kingdom to the House of Windsor.
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; 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 Japan 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 France 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 Quebec, 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 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.