TheCatSite.com › Forums › General Forums › IMO: In My Opinion › Words borrowed from other languages
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Words borrowed from other languages

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
Here's a little curiosity. I've always wondered why Germans wish each other a good "Rutsch" (slide) into the new year, and my 14-year-old niece supplied the answer today. She learned in school that it stemmed from a "Jewish expression". That suddenly "clicked" for me: Rosh Hashanah! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosh_Hashanah
post #2 of 25
It is totally amazing how much each and every language on the planet borrows from many of the others. In Japan, so many foreign words are used that they actually use a phonetic alphabet called katakana for writing them.
post #3 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skippymjp View Post
It is totally amazing how much each and every language on the planet borrows from many of the others. In Japan, so many foreign words are used that they actually use a phonetic alphabet called katakana for writing them.
You got it! That example shows just how "successful" Hitler was with his "Final Solution". I grew up with a lot of exposure to both German and Yiddish, and now feel really stupid for not figuring out the connection before.
post #4 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skippymjp View Post
It is totally amazing how much each and every language on the planet borrows from many of the others. In Japan, so many foreign words are used that they actually use a phonetic alphabet called katakana for writing them.
I used to think that was so cool when I was studying Japanese. It's a variation on their other phonetic alphabet, `Hiragana' which can be used to write any Japanese word at all without using Kanji.

It used to crack us up the amount of borrowed words there are in Japanese - you come across them all the time. But English also has a vast number of borrowed words - but I guess we don't notice them as much because they've now become English words. `Entrepreneur' springs to mind as an obvious example.
post #5 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by KitEKats4Eva! View Post
I used to think that was so cool when I was studying Japanese. It's a variation on their other phonetic alphabet, `Hiragana' which can be used to write any Japanese word at all without using Kanji.

It used to crack us up the amount of borrowed words there are in Japanese - you come across them all the time. But English also has a vast number of borrowed words - but I guess we don't notice them as much because they've now become English words. `Entrepreneur' springs to mind as an obvious example.
If you only knew the number of times I tell my translators' classes to "think French" every week, so that they come up with the correct German to English translation! Ditto Spanish words.
Years ago, I was reading an English-language novel written by an Indian author, and couldn't for the life of me figure out why so many people were being attacked by "muggers" on a riverbank. I finally asked an Indian guy I'd studied with if "mugger" had another meaning in India, and he told me muggers were crocodiles!
post #6 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by KitEKats4Eva! View Post
But English also has a vast number of borrowed words - but I guess we don't notice them as much because they've now become English words. `Entrepreneur' springs to mind as an obvious example.
Oh, no doubt! We could go on forever, and ever, and ever;

Admiral - Arabic
Pajamas - Hindu
Coleslaw - Dutch
Amen - Hebrew
Soy - Japanese
Noogy - As in "giving someone a noogy" - Irish
Bagel - Yiddish

..and ever and ever and ever...

post #7 of 25
Thread Starter 
How about ketjap - catsup - ketchup?
post #8 of 25
I didn't know pajamas was Hindi!!! I love that word. Do you shorten it to `jarmies' in the US? Or is that just another typical Australian abbreviation?
post #9 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by KitEKats4Eva! View Post
I didn't know pajamas was Hindi!!! I love that word. Do you shorten it to `jarmies' in the US? Or is that just another typical Australian abbreviation?
Oh no, it's 'jammies' here too But the way we snatch words, we probably got jammies from Australia
post #10 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by jcat View Post
Years ago, I was reading an English-language novel written by an Indian author, and couldn't for the life of me figure out why so many people were being attacked by "muggers" on a riverbank. I finally asked an Indian guy I'd studied with if "mugger" had another meaning in India, and he told me muggers were crocodiles!
That gave me a good chuckle
post #11 of 25
You have just got to check this out; over half the words I used on a daily basis are borrowed from other languages. Too cool

List of English words of International origin
post #12 of 25
Russian borrows as well. From English, greek (latin-based) and others. I love learning about languages but I truly stink at speaking them
post #13 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skippymjp View Post
You have just got to check this out; over half the words I used on a daily basis are borrowed from other languages. Too cool
Actually, English isn't a "native" language per se of ANY indigenous people, England was a mixing ground of Celts, Britons, Danes, Romans, Normans, Saxons, and I don't know how many others. They kept appropriating words from the ones who came and stayed and from the ones who just passed through. Having a smattering of several different languages, fluent in none, it's interesting comparing the many English words with the Latin, German, French, etc they came from. You'd think it should be easy for English-speakers to learn one of those other languages.
post #14 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by coaster View Post
Actually, English isn't a "native" language per se of ANY indigenous people, England was a mixing ground of Celts, Britons, Danes, Romans, Normans, Saxons, and I don't know how many others. They kept appropriating words from the ones who came and stayed and from the ones who just passed through. Having a smattering of several different languages, fluent in none, it's interesting comparing the many English words with the Latin, German, French, etc they came from. You'd think it should be easy for English-speakers to learn one of those other languages.
Old English is not a strange mish-mash; it has as much of a pedigree as any other language. As proto-indoeuropean became separate languages, the Germanic branch became distinct. Then the West Germanic languages became more distinct, and then something close to Early Old English, closely related to Frisian. Our grammar is still much more closely related to other Germanic languages than anything else, and no amount of word borrowings is likely to change that.

Old English was the language of the anglo-saxon people who conquered those people, and for the most part, didn't borrow a whole ton of words from them. There are surprisingly few words of Celtic origin, for example, because they were the subjugated. The language of the viking people in Northern England/Scotland being one major exception-- even our pronouns are heavily borrowed from them.

A good argument could be made that English today is the descendant of a English-Norman French creole, and that it's strange we speak English at all. It's just a strange coincidence of politics that we aren't speaking something much closer to French. The ruling classes spoke Norman French, the peasant people spoke English (which is why we have pairs like cow-beef, sheep-mutton, etc among other things) and then it became politically advantageous to distance from the French when they started fighting.

We may have a ton of borrowings, but we also have an unusually large lexicon with all kinds of jargon words and academic words (like, angst for example) and a population that is for the most part historically and currently well-educated, especially since English wasn't considered a language worthy of academic pursuits until massive general education started. People learnt Latin and Greek grammar-- the reason we have those stupid nonsense rules like not splitting infinitives (because it is impossible to in Latin, not because its somehow wrong)

Sorry, I could go on forever... forgive the historical linguist in me.

My favorite borrowing is "assassin" from "hashashin"-- from some form of Arabic (forget what century and place) which meant literally "hash smoker" because the skilled hit men often had a hash habit.
post #15 of 25
I'll defer to superior knowledge any day. I should have specified "Modern English" as what I referred to as not a "native" language. I should have known someone would catch me on that.

And the history is interesting; no need to apologize.
post #16 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by coaster View Post
I'll defer to superior knowledge any day. I should have specified "Modern English" as what I referred to as not a "native" language. I should have known someone would catch me on that.

And the history is interesting; no need to apologize.
You've a point with that, for some reason modern English speakers are very willing to borrow words without stigma. There's no need/desire/paranoia to save the language as there is with many other languages (usually from the influence of English or Spanish or Chinese which has something to do with it). And now that it's spoken pretty much everywhere, and there are more people outside of Britain and its former colonies speaking it now than within them.

I don't know about saying it's not indigenous anywhere. Certainly not outside of England, but then where do you draw the line? Is it if people got somewhere prehistorically (in the sense of 'before things were written down') then they're indigenous? The Celts immigrated to Britain, too, and later coexisted peacefully with the Angles and Saxons and other Germanic people who got there later for a long time... and certainly the whole time since modern English has existed, which is only about ~500 years. Do people in England consider themselves indigenous?

It's winter break, I need a good academic discussion.
post #17 of 25
Robot is from the Czech word meaning worker
Chocolate is from the Aztecs

Dialects are interesting - up until about 50 years ago, the dialect spoken in some parts of rural Yorkshire was closer to old dialects still used at that time in some parts of Denmark than it was to modern English - originating from the Viking settlement of that part of England.
post #18 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zissou'sMom View Post
I don't know about saying it's not indigenous anywhere. Certainly not outside of England, but then where do you draw the line? Is it if people got somewhere prehistorically (in the sense of 'before things were written down') then they're indigenous? The Celts immigrated to Britain, too, and later coexisted peacefully with the Angles and Saxons and other Germanic people who got there later for a long time... and certainly the whole time since modern English has existed, which is only about ~500 years. Do people in England consider themselves indigenous? .
That's a good point. I guess I was considering the Britons to be the legitimate "indigineous" group. But I have no idea of their origins, only that they were there before the others you mentioned and were absorbed by/displaced by them. There's a great series of historical novels by Bernard Cornwell set in that time that I think you'd enjoy if you're a fan of that period. The first in the series is "The Winter King."
post #19 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by jcat View Post
If you only knew the number of times I tell my translators' classes to "think French" every week, so that they come up with the correct German to English translation! Ditto Spanish words.
Years ago, I was reading an English-language novel written by an Indian author, and couldn't for the life of me figure out why so many people were being attacked by "muggers" on a riverbank. I finally asked an Indian guy I'd studied with if "mugger" had another meaning in India, and he told me muggers were crocodiles!

In Bengali, "muggi" (not sure of the spelling, but rhymes with "muggy" means "b*tch". My Indian friend was shocked when she first arrived here, and heard the weatherman say it was going to be muggy today!

Kind of off-topic, but she also couldn't understand the expression, "when the s*** hits the fan". She had a co-worker who used to say this, and my friend said she had a mental picture of bedsheets being tangled in an electric fan, and just couldn't grasp the concept of the term!

An Iranian co-worker once looked at some adult Xmas cards on display at work--a former employee used to display them. S loves cats, and didn't understand the meaning of the p-word for cats in slang. She picked up a card that had a cartoon of Santa, holding a cat, which said, "Guess what I'm gonna give you for Xmas?" Inside: "A little p-----." She actually read this in front of everyone, in total innocence. Then, she picked up the one with the joke about Xmas balls. (I had to take her aside, and explain THAT one!).
post #20 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by MargeCat View Post
In Bengali, "muggi" (not sure of the spelling, but rhymes with "muggy" means "b*tch". My Indian friend was shocked when she first arrived here, and heard the weatherman say it was going to be muggy today!

Kind of off-topic, but she also couldn't understand the expression, "when the s*** hits the fan". She had a co-worker who used to say this, and my friend said she had a mental picture of bedsheets being tangled in an electric fan, and just couldn't grasp the concept of the term!

An Iranian co-worker once looked at some adult Xmas cards on display at work--a former employee used to display them. S loves cats, and didn't understand the meaning of the p-word for cats in slang. She picked up a card that had a cartoon of Santa, holding a cat, which said, "Guess what I'm gonna give you for Xmas?" Inside: "A little p-----." She actually read this in front of everyone, in total innocence. Then, she picked up the one with the joke about Xmas balls. (I had to take her aside, and explain THAT one!).
ROFL!
post #21 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MargeCat View Post
In Bengali, "muggi" (not sure of the spelling, but rhymes with "muggy" means "b*tch". My Indian friend was shocked when she first arrived here, and heard the weatherman say it was going to be muggy today!

Kind of off-topic, but she also couldn't understand the expression, "when the s*** hits the fan". She had a co-worker who used to say this, and my friend said she had a mental picture of bedsheets being tangled in an electric fan, and just couldn't grasp the concept of the term!

An Iranian co-worker once looked at some adult Xmas cards on display at work--a former employee used to display them. S loves cats, and didn't understand the meaning of the p-word for cats in slang. She picked up a card that had a cartoon of Santa, holding a cat, which said, "Guess what I'm gonna give you for Xmas?" Inside: "A little p-----." She actually read this in front of everyone, in total innocence. Then, she picked up the one with the joke about Xmas balls. (I had to take her aside, and explain THAT one!).
I can relate to that!
When I was studying in Germany, I also had a lot of trouble understanding the "sexual" slang. After I asked in polite company what a certain word I'd overheard meant, my then boyfriend, now husband went and got me some porno novels in German, and told me to read them and ask him about any words I didn't understand. After we married, and moved to the U.S., I returned the favor. My mother used to delight in testing his knowledge of "R-rated" or "X-rated" terms.
post #22 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by KitEKats4Eva! View Post
I didn't know pajamas was Hindi!!! I love that word. Do you shorten it to `jarmies' in the US? Or is that just another typical Australian abbreviation?
Also from Hindi: shampoo and thug
post #23 of 25
Only one word from the Malays that I can think of:

AMOK!!!!!
post #24 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Abymummy View Post
Only one word from the Malays that I can think of:

AMOK!!!!!
That's made its way into German, too.
post #25 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Abymummy View Post
Only one word from the Malays that I can think of:

AMOK!!!!!
Amok is a fantastic word to use. It's lyrical and visual at the same time. Whenever I say it I imagine 30 four year olds all running around singing, playing, and laughing.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: IMO: In My Opinion
TheCatSite.com › Forums › General Forums › IMO: In My Opinion › Words borrowed from other languages