Sunday, 12 February 2012

Name some words borrowed from other languages.

Name some words borrowed from other languages.

There are more words in the English language than in any other in the world.  The experts say the number is somewhere between 400,000 and 600,000 words!  This isn’t surprising when you think about how many words are borrowed from other languages.

Because of this, there are often many ways to say the same thing in English.  Take the word eat, for example.  English-speakers have several different ways to describe this activity.  Here are some of these, and the languages they were borrowed from:

Gulp                       Dutch
Nibble                    German
Devour                   French
Masticate              (a fancy way to say chew) – Greek

Not to mention feed, dine and gnaw, which all trace their origins to Old English.  What other examples can you think of?  Look them up in a dictionary that includes word origins to see where they came from.

English has also borrowed many words from Spanish, such as barbecue and lasso.  From Hindi, the most widely spoken language of India, come such words as Veranda and pajama.  Sofa is derived from an Arabic word; Sleuth from a Norse word; pistachio from Italian.  Robot, a word that was invented only in 1920, is a Czech contribution.  Black Americans have enriched the language with many words including okay, and expression some believe evolved from a West African word 0-ke.

Pick any word and see if you can guess its origin.  Now check the dictionary.  Were you right?

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