Research article
Issue: № 6 (34), 2022


The article is devoted to the analysis of the relevant word-building possibilities of the anthroponym «Merkel» in the format of the modern German mediapolitical discourse. A variety of structural, semantic, morphological features of the analyzed type of lexical units, cognitive-discursive circumstances of their creation and actualization testify of the meaningful word-building potential of the ex-chancellor of the FRG Angela Merkel’s surname. As the result of investigation held, it is worthwhile concluding that basic word-building capabilities of the onym under research are realized mainly by means of affixal derivation and conversion. Word-building activity of the anthroponym “Merkel” reveals in the ability to make new derivatives belonging to such parts of speech as verb, noun and adjective. Presence of integral creative author deonymic constracts with the component “Merkel” in the modern German-language mass media political discourse proves special creative possibilities of the word-building resources of the analyzed anthroponym, realized in the conditions of the discursive space.

1. Introduction

Lexical fund of any language like any system alive is in constant dynamic development and requires regular replenishment and renovation by means of words that appear mainly due to active processes happening in the social and political life, in the consciousness of native speakers. 

Among other relevant ways of enriching the lexical content of a language, proper names, so called anthroponyms which nominate a particular person, appear as the important “donor” of new words. Such view point is reflected in a row of scientific works by modern investigators, studying the problems of onomastics [1], [2], [3], [5] etc.

Specific feature and productivity of such way of creating new lexical units is conditioned by the fact, that an anthroponym, under the influence of some extra linguistic factors, is endowed by the ability to transform into the common noun (appellative), and consequently, to nominate another phenomenon or notion or subject.  New lexeme appearing in the language by such way is marked by the term deonym in the modern linguistics.  (Works by О.А.  Nikitina [2], Е.S. Stepanov [4], R.Z. Khanichev [5], М.А. Chigasheva [6], [7], [8] and other scientists). 

Е.V. Skvoretskaya emphasizes that proper nouns transferring into the category of common nouns acquire new meanings, correlating with the typical activity of the person named, with definite features and properties of this subject and so on [3, P. 105].

In the format of the present article we tried to analyze lexical neoformations functioning in the field of modern German mediapolitical discourse. The anthroponym "Merkel" has become the source of their appearing.   

Topicality of the present research is defined, on the one hand, by the fact that political anthroponyms are one of the important ways of enriching the vocabulary of the modern German language; on the other hand, it is possible due to the unprecedented importance of the personality of the powerful German ex-chancellor Angela Merkel who ruled the country for more than 15 years.

 The importance of studying the analyzed anthroponymic lexis – Merkel-nominations is also defined by the fact that they present so called national cultural sign, the symbol of some properties, events, actions, conditions and so on.  In this case, the statement by М.А. Chigasheva about "nationally marked lexis" [6, P. 51], coined like that in the context of political discourse of the German mass media, in our opinion, seems true.

The aim of the present work is to study the word-building possibilities of the lexical units based on the anthroponym “Merkel” and used in the German media political discourse. The analysis suggests the study of structural and semantic segments, ways of coinage, belonging to the parts of speech, as well as the study of peculiarities of actualization and functioning of the analyzed type of words in the format of modern political discourse of German mass media.

2. Methods

The material of the research is the corps of lexical word usage, coined from the basic anthroponym "Merkel", taken from the media political texts of German e-issues, as well as the lexis given in the online dictionary of German language neologisms on the portal www.owid.de [21].

In course of the research, the following methods have been used: word-building method, semantic and structural, method of cognitive-discursive analysis, descriptive and contextual analysis.

3. Discussion

The analysis of the corps of the empirical material has shown that affixal derivation and conversion are basic ways of coining new words from the anthroponym "Merkel" as producing basis in the format of modern German media political discourse. Key word-building model of lexical neoformations coined from the proper noun "Merkel" appears to be the deonymic affixal derivation. Under this term we understand the coinage of new common nouns created on the basis of proper nouns with the help of suffixes and prefixes.   

Essence of the second productive way of coining lexical units of the analyzed type consists in the possibility of the basic anthroponym "Merkel" to transfer from one part of speech into another (conversion). The result of this process is the presence in the base of corps some examples of lexemes belonging to different parts of speech.  Moreover, parts of speech transformation of words, as the language material has shown, is responsible for changes in the meanings of these lexemes.

So, as our observations have shown, most examples from the base of the empirical material are verb lexical variants coined from the anthroponym "Merkel". The nucleus of this word group, which served as the base for emergence of various lexical modifications, is the verb deonym merkeln, coined with the help of the suffix – n, suffix of the infinitive form of German verbs.  

It is necessary to underline that high activity and demand of this neological lexeme is confirmed by the fact of its presence in the online dictionary of neologisms of the scientific portal OWID [21].

According to the dictionary, the verb merkeln, referring to the group of weak verbs possesses full number of grammatical forms, namely, it has the Preterite form (merkelte (sich)), Participle II (gemerkelt), and it is able to form Perfect with the help of the auxiliary verb haben (hat (sich) gemerkelt), passive constructions [21]. Like Usual verb, there are typical variants of using this lexeme in a definite context fixed in the dictionary [21].

The analysis of the semantic segment of the verb merkeln has shown that during its development and integration into the system of German language the verb changed its semantic filling, and nowadays it realizes mainly three meanings. 

Primary meaning of the analyzed verb reflects such meaning characteristics as "remain idle, delay the decision, not to express one’s personal opinion, wait and leave to chance". Objectivation of such meaning is connected with the style of a passive, apathetic, inert ruling of the German ex-chancellor A. Merkel in difficult political situations, demanding active and decisive actions [21].

The second phase in the development of a new meaning of the verb merkeln is "to scold and punish". It started in 2011, the epoch of debt crisis in European Union, and was connected with the tough politics of economy, which A. Merkel tried to impose on the ruling elite of EU, that was perceived rather negatively [6, P. 54].

The third new turn in the development of the semantic contents of the verb merkeln (to behave like Merkel, to merkel «косить под Mepкель») is connected with its actualization and wide popularity in the context of the Youth slang. This word became "The Youth word of the 2015 year" according to the results of the contest organized by the German issue of dictionaries Langenscheidt [16]. 

It is necessary to mention, however, that the German mediapolitical discourse of present days objectivizes mainly the primary meaning of the verb lexeme merkeln (to remain idle - бездействовать), less often it actualizes the semantics of the youth interpretation of the word (to imitate Merkel - «косить под Mepкель»).

"Macron kann nicht merkeln" [15] (Macron cannot remain idle/ follow the style of A. Merkel’s ruling); "Drei Männer wollen an die Macht. Sie müssen sich etwas Neues einfallen lassen. Denn nur Merkel kann merkeln" [18] (Three men want to come in power. They have to make up something new, because it is only Merkel who can remain idle; "Sie (Angelа Merkel) "merkelt" noch immer" [22] (She (Angelа Merkel) still continues the politics of “doing nothing”).

An important role in widening of the word-building potential of the given verb deonym has been played by the prefixal way which created a considerable number of new lexical units in the format of modern German political discourse of the mass media.

Fixed in the base of empirical material, verbs  vermerkeln (to make a doubtful decision), bemerkeln (to explain something that is already clear), sich durchmerkeln (to do nothing in the situation that needs making a decision),  wegmerkeln (not to notice really existing things), herummerkeln  (to do nothing in the situation demanding a decision), weitermerkeln (to go on doing nothing) illustrate a row of productive prefixes (ver-, be-, durch-, weg-, herum-, weiter-), which realize additional shade word-building possibilities of the verb lexeme  "merkeln". 

"Sie (Merkel) solle doch noch einmal weitermachen und die kommende Krise gleichsam wegmerkeln [9] (Merkel should have continued governing the country on the principle of doing nothing, as if not noticing the threatening crisis.); "Weitermerkeln mit Armin Laschet" [25] (Continue the politics of doing nothing together with Armin Lashet); "Europa darf nicht vermerkelt werden" [14] (Europe must not be left to chance).

The presented prefixes definitely change the semantics of the verb merkeln, moreover, an inseparable connection of the primary verb with its prefixal variants, including more wide possibilities while interpreting particular meanings, is clearly seen. As for derivative forms like sich durchmerkeln, herummerkeln, they are given in the online dictionary of neologisms [21] as synonymic to the initial lexeme "merkeln".

In the context of verb modifications of the anthroponym "Merkel" in modern German political discourse of the mass media, the variant merkelisieren ("to suppress, make dependent, to govern in an authoritarian way") is also presented. Structurally it is realized according to the model Merkel + suffix -isieren

"Das ganze Land ist merkelisiert [11] (The whole country sagged under Merkel.)

As the results of the held analysis have shown, in the corps of the practical material examples, deonyms-nouns with the component Merkel are also presented.  The group of nouns is presented by such key Merkel-lexemes as das Merkeln / doing nothing, die Merkelisierung / submission to Merkel, "sagging" under Merkel, to make smb. dependent, der Merkelianer / a supporter of A. Merkel’s politics, der Nicht-Merkelianer / an opponent of A. Merkel’s political course of governing.

The group of basic nouns from the onym "Merkel" in German language is formed according to the following models:

Merkel + suffix -n: Merkeln

Merkel + suffix -isierung: Merkelisierung

Merkel + suffix - aner: Merkelianer

Merkel + suffix -ismus: Merkelismus

"Bundeskanzlerin Merkeln nimmt an einem Treffen mit den Spitzen der europäischen Arbeitgeberverbände teil" [10] (Inaction of the Federal Chancellor takes part in the meeting with the heads of European associations of employers; "Der Abgeordnete wirft ihm die «Merkelisierung» der CSU vor" [23] (The Deputy reproaches him of the fact that CSU sagged under Merkel); Der neue CDU-Vorsitzende Armin Laschet hat nie einen Hehl daraus gemacht, dass er überzeugter „Merkelianer“ ist[19] (The new chairman of the CDU Armin Laschet never tried to conceal the fact that he is a confirmed supporter of Merkel); "Es ist auch eine Formel für politischen Erfolg – allen voran die des Merkelismus" [29] (This is also a formula of political success. First of all is the tactics of waiting and inacting (political style of Chancellor A. Merkel). 

Deonymic adjectives coined from the surname «Merkel» are less productive in the format of modern German political discourse.  The results of the held analysis have shown that basic suffixes of the studied group are the suffixes - isch (merkelisch), - ianisch (merkelianisch).

Die Partei …  ist nämlich nicht nur auf personeller, sondern auch auf struktureller Ebene merkelianisch geworden  [29] (The party becomes indistinct not only on the level of the personnel, but also in a constructive approach to the business decisions.); Füllen Scholz´ betende Hände die Lücke der "Merkelischer Raute"? [12] (Will the hands of praying Scholz fill in the gaps of "Merkel’s rhomb"?)

Enriching of the category of adjectives coined from the proper noun "Merkel" is achieved by means of presence of structurally complex lexemes, formed by the way of compounding word bases (merkeltreu / to act as a supporter of A. Merkel’s political style of governing, merkelfreundlich / to have positive attitude to the style of A. Merkel’s governing, merkelfeindlich / to have negative attitude to the style of A. Merkel’s governing).

“Sogar merkeltreue Medien warnen jetzt Merkel“ [24] (Now, even loyal to Merkel mass media warn her.);“Laut Emnid wünschen sich Spahn nur sieben Prozent der Unionsanhänger als neuen Parteichef, im Duell zwischen moderat-merkelfreundlich und moderat-merkelfeindlich ist er der überflüssige Dritte [27] (According to the poll data of the Emnid institute, only 7% of the faction’s supporters would like to see Spahn as a new party leader. He acts as “a third is odd” in the duel between those who have relatively positive attitude and relatively negative attitude to the style of A. Merkel’s governing).  

Special attention in the context of the analyzed problem should be payed to so called "Merkelisms-hybrids" coined in the format of the modern German political discourse of mass media by means of compounding two components, shortened variants of proper nouns, basic of which is the surname Merkel.   

The present group of structurally and semantically complex in the meaning deonymic variants is exemplified by such hybrids as "Merkozy", "Мerkiavelli", "Merkollande", "Merkollonti".

Such phenomenon on the level of word-building, structural and semantic organization of deonyms with the component "Merkel" is explained by the fact of creation of tandems by politicians within the EU, the main task of which is to collaborate and unite in the issues of governing the European union.   

Let’s study closely the ways of coining such lexical units presented in the format of modern German political discourse of mass media, as well as the specificity of their semantic contents.   

Structurally, the given lexemes are shortenings of a special type, coined by means of contamination of the shortened final part of the surname Merkel – Меrkel (Мerk-) and initial component of the surname of French ex-President Nicolas Sarkozy – Sarkozy (-kozy), as for "Мerkiavelli" - it is a final component of the surname of an Italian philosopher and political leader Niccolo Machiavelli (synonymous with treachery and cunning).

It is definitely interesting to study the context of political discourse and the reasons which caused the appearance of such hybrid lexemes of deonymic character. 

The phenomenon of "Merkozy", exemplifies an ironic-sarcastic journalists’ naming of the German-French political tandem of A. Merkel and N. Sarkozy ruling in European union in 2011. Coordinated vision of the leaders of two leading European economics in decision of key problems, connected with the question of keeping the Euro-zone, overcoming the financial crisis by means of tougher economic measures and adamant imposition of such point of view on the rest of the members of the political elite of the EU (including Great Britain) perceived rather negatively by European electorate.   

"Deutschland und Frankreich: Wie aus Merkel und Sarkozy Merkozy wurde" [13] (Germany and France: How from Merkel and Sarkozy appeared Merkozy).

The significance of the present two-component deonym in the format of German political discourse is supported by the fact that in the rating of the most popular words 2011 in German society it took the fourth place [30].

It is interesting to notice that modern German press, with a definite frequency, generates such binary deonymic political nominations where the proper noun «Merkel» is the first basic component. 

"Es lebe Merkollande! Perdu Merkozy, vive Merkollande! Nach seinem Wahlsieg am Sonntag ist François Hollande Merkels neuer Partner" [26] (Long live Merkollande! Merkozy lost, long live Merkollande! François Hollande after the elections victory on Sunday has become new partner of Angela Merkel); "Nach Merkozy kommt Merkollonti" [20] (After Merkozy comes Merkollonti).

We suppose that such individual author neoformations will be topical in the format of the German political media discourse only for a short period of time, due to dynamic and quick changes in the sphere of modern European politics.   

The emergence of political lexeme «Мerkiavelli» by means of overlapping two shortened basic anthroponyms is based, in its meaning interpretation, on the similarity of the styles of holding political fight, associated mainly with the possibility to use any means for achieving the set aims.

"Merkiavellis Macht gründet nämlich auf dem Drang, nichts zu tun, ihrer Neigung zum Noch-nicht-Handeln, Später-Handeln, ihrem Zögern" [17] (Power of “Merkiavelli” is based on its indecisiveness, on the strive for doing nothing, on the wish to loiter for a while and start acting later).

Actualization of such anthroponymic lexemes which appear mainly as results of journalists’ creativity, to our mind, is conditioned by the strive for presenting the information more figuratively, to make the emotional influence on the electors. That illustrates one of the main functions of the media political discourse.  

4. Results

So, the results of the held research let usH conclude the following: the anthroponym "Merkel" in the context of modern German political media discourse is endowed with rather high word-building potential. Basic word-building possibilities of the studied deonymic unit are realized mainly by means of affixal derivation and conversion.

Word-building activity of the anthroponym "Merkel" is revealed in the ability to coin new derivatives which belong to different parts of speech.  As our observations have shown, among others, the verb lexical variants based on the anthroponym"Merkel" are of high demand. The core element of this word group is the verb deonym merkeln coined with the help of the suffix -n.

A variety of the verb prefixes (ver-, be-, durch-, weg-, herum-, weiter-) considerably widens the possibilities of creating new verbs-Merkelisms, expressing shade meanings of the basic lexical variants. 

The ability of the onym "Merkel" to produce various lexical variants limited by the categories of the Noun and Adjective is explained by the phenomenon of the suffixal derivation.

The most productive suffixes at creating new nouns-derivatives from the base component "Merkel", appear suffixes -n, -isierung, - aner, -ismus. Basic suffixes of adjectives, coined from the surname "Merkel", shown in the format of the modern German political discourse, are - isch, - ianisch.

It is necessary to underline that word-building reserves of the anthroponym "Merkel" are not limited only by traditional ways of coining new words, created by models typical of German language in general. Objectivation of creative, author "words-Merkelisms" like "Merkozy", "Мerkiavelli" etc., which were coined by compounding two components, shortened variants of proper nouns, base of which is the surname of Merkel, in modern German media political discourse, proves creative and meaningful, in conditions of the discursive space, word-building resources of the anthroponym under discussion.

5. Conclusion

In conclusion, it is necessary to mention that in spite of the changes of social-political circumstances (Merkel ceased to be chancellor of Germany), lexical variants coined from her surname are still active and productive in the format of modern German media political discourse. Moreover, in present time the stable intrusion of the Merkel-words in other spheres of the discursive space (sports, medicine, economics and etc.) is observed. That proves the demand of their semantic contents, and opens new perspectives for further scientific investigations of this segment of linguistic field.  

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