Dr. Sebastian Knospe

English Linguistics / University of Greifswald, Institute of English and American Studies



Contact details

seknospe [aτ] uni-greifswald.de


Universität Greifswald

Institut für Anglistik/Amerikanistik

Steinbeckerstraße 15

D-17487 Greifswald

Phone: +49 (3834) 86-3357



Project: Hybrid formations and bilingual puns in German-English language contact 

Due to its status as a global lingua franca, English today serves as a resource from which users of other first languages may readily absorb linguistic material of varying complexity. Both in oral or written communication, e.g. in press texts, this does not only lead to the emergence of loanwords entering common usage, but may also promote ad hoc mixes of German and English elements or ambiguous nonce configurations. 

Focusing on contemporary German-English language contact, it is the aim of this project to study the creative potential of two phenomena: hybrid formations and bilingual puns. As to the former, the study examines conspicuous hybrid compounds such as Last Minute-Demokratie ‘last minute democracy’, Fun-Fahrer ‘fun driver’ or Pfründen-Management, literally ‘sinecure management’. Configurations of the latter type, by definition, skillfully exploit structural similarities between the two languages involved. This can be illustrated by a pun like Fairkehr which is found in advertising campaigns of the Federal Centre for Health, pleading for the use of condoms. In fact, this coinage plays with the German noun Verkehr ‘intercourse’ and the anglicism fair which is pronounced almost the same as the German prefix ver-. Similarly, the coinage unterbeaten jocularly blends the meanings of the anglicism beat (in the sense of musical rhythm)and the one of the German verb unterbieten ‘to rest below the level set by someone else’. In this case, it serves as a self-ironic motto for a German carnival parade. To give a third example of a bilingual pun, the phrase Da ist mehr im Bush speculates about possibly unknown motives that influenced the Bush administration by punning on the proper name and the German proverb Da ist mehr im Busch ‘There is more to it’. 

The project looks both at the formal repertoire and the discursive effects achieved by ad hoc formations of the aforementioned two types. What will be analysed as well is the metalinguistic knowledge these formations require from producers and recipients. The investigation is based on a synchronic corpus of German newspapers and magazines such as Der Spiegel, Die Zeit and Sueddeutsche Zeitung.  


Sebastian Knospe studied English and French at the Universities of Greifswald, Germany, Southampton and Lancaster, UK. In 2012 he finalized his doctoral thesis with a study on the motivatedness of anglicisms and codeswitches into English in German print journalism. In his post-Doc thesis, he examines humour and wordplay in European language cultures, taking into account cultural differences and newly arising convergences which result from transfers from the English language.

The main research fields Sebastian Knospe is interested in lie in contact linguistics, in lexicology (at the interface of semantics and pragmatics) as well as in qualitative sociolinguistics. He is especially concerned with codeswitching, borrowing and the integration of loanwords into word-formation and contact-induced change, particularly in German-English contact. In 2011 he co-organised the “Third Conference on Language Contact in Times of Globalization”(30 June – 2 July 2011, University of Greifswald, supported by the German Research Foundation / DFG). In August 2014 he will be convener of the EU-funded Summer School “Language Contact in Contemporary Europe”. 


Publications (Selection)

Knospe, Sebastian (2009a): „Einführung: ‚Zwischen den Sprachen, zwischen den Kulturen‘ – Transfer- und Interferenzprozesse in europäischen Sprachen“. In:  Amei Koll-Stobbe (Hg.): Zwischen den Sprachen, zwischen den Kulturen – Transfer- und Interferenzprozesse in europäischen Sprachen. Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 11-15.


Knospe, Sebastian (2009b): „Einführung: Sprachenvielfalt in der Europäischen Union - Die EU als sprachlich-kulturelle Kontaktzone". In: Amei Koll-Stobbe (Hg.): Versteht mich noch jemand? Sprachenvielfalt, Sprachbedrohung und Sprachpolitik in Europa. Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 11-17.