How English is English?

I teach English. But actually, I also teach French, Hindi, Italian, and German to name but a few. Is it because I am really a teacher of multiple languages?

Well, no. So how and why can I do this?

The reason is that words from all of these languages and more have been borrowed and now form part of the English language. A huge number of English words originally come from Greek and Latin origins via French, but over the years, as people have travelled more, and have communicated with people using different languages, some of those foreign words have stuck. After all, if you don’t have a word in your language to express the foreign one, then why not just adopt it!

This happens in all languages, so just as English uses sushi and karaoke from Japanese, they use our aisukurīmu for ice-cream, and sandaru for sandals. Funnily enough neither the word ‘foreign’ nor ‘language’ is actually English!

To read more about this topic, have a look at this interesting article from the BBC here.

What borrowed words, or loan words do you know from your language? Let us know.


How English is English?」への2件のフィードバック

  1. It was a interesting article. ” Peace, War ” was borrowed from French and ” Leg , Sky ” was borrowed from Scandinavian languages, I know these English words, but I didn’t know what they were Borrowed words at all.
    About ” Tsunami”, is it borrowed from Japanese?
    Japanese use a lot of borrowed words, especially in music, sports and food fields.
    For instance, ” Tennis, Basketball, Volleyball, Soccer….” was borrowed from English. I don’t know how we say them in Japanese at all.
    In food field, ” Pasta ( from Italy ), dessert , candy, cream, chocolate, cake…( from English ) and in music field, ” Rock, Pops, Heavy metal,Orchestra….( from English ), Chanson ( from French ), Japanese speakers use them as our common words every day,
    Probably, these words’ origin is that Japanese people knew these foreign cultures and they became common to Japanese world. Until Japanese people first ate ” Pasta “, We never knew this word.
    Lending words of Japanese is ” Karaoke, Sushi, Kabuki, Sumo, Geisha, Shogun, Tempura,Sukiyaki ….”.
    I’m wondering if ” CONBINI,( Convenience store ) ” is also one of lending word.
    That’s so interesting indeed.
    Thank you!

  2. You’re right, Yuki, we say ‘tsunami’ or tidal wave in English. I don’t think ‘combini’ is in the English dictionary yet, but I think it ought to be! It’s much ore convenient to say than ‘convenience store’, isn’t it!


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