Good morning, Bonjour, Guten Morgen, Buenos Dias, Buongiorno, Shubh Prabhaat, Sabāḥul kẖayr.
Aren’t words brilliant!
English words I find especially so – as I am British ( I say British as I do not consider myself English; I have Irish parentage, with Scottish and Cornish ancestry) and we are an extraordinarily mixed race that has absorbed, from countries across the world, words that have become embedded so deeply that we have almost forgotten the origins. I love the etymology of words, names, nouns, things, stuff, anything! I think I may have mentioned in a previous post the origin of the word orange – it is from the Persian, narange.
Language changes can denote when a country was historically invaded, when merchants brought more home than products and coin, when integration was necessary. Language is a living, ever evolving, and fascinating marker to our connections worldwide.
My previous snob of a self used to scoff at ‘Americanisms’ – i.e. garbage, diaper, aluminum. These words travelled from Holland and England to the New World and remained in use alongside those from farther afield. Now I understand the use of garbage, as compared to rubbish; it makes sense.
Today’s post is a collection of words that have entered our, English, language from the wider world community, so here is a small, very small, collation to whet your appetite –
Plant, wine, cat, candle, anchor, chest, fork, rose – Roman, circa AD 410.
Birth, cake, call, egg, freckle, happy, law, leg, sister, smile, trust – Old Norse, circa AD 900.
Army, archer, soldier, Crown, throne, duke, nobility, peasant, servant, obedience, traitor, felony, arrest, justice, judge, jury, accuse, condemn, prison, gaol, ballet, café, genre, garage – French, circa 1066 to present.
Boss, coleslaw, landscape, cruise, frolic, rucksack, roster, wagon, onslaught – Dutch, various.
Abseil, angst, cobalt, delicatessen, doppelganger, dachshund, fest, haversack, kitsch, kaput – German, various.
Veranda, jungle, bandana, chit, dinghy, pyjama, juggernaut, cashmere, thug, shampoo – Hindi, circa 18th and 19th c.
Banjo, chimpanzee, zebra, zombie, banana, jazz, cola, bozo, boogie, okay – Africa, circa 18th and 18th c.
Alcohol, algebra, chemistry, elixir, cipher, zero, zenith, alcove, amber, assassin, candy, coffee, cotton, mummy, racquet, sash, crimson, ghoul, giraffe, lemon, orange – Arabic, various.
Flannel, corgi, penguin, pendragon, bard, balderdash, druid, crag – Welsh, various.
Blackmail, clan, glamour, golf, scone, wraith, tweed – Scottish, various.
Looking into the origins of some words provides us with, not only origins and meaning, but the circumstances under which such words have entered the English language.
I think we should be proud have having such connections and ability to borrow, adapt and absorb words into our everyday use. It makes me feel I belong to a greater community.
For some excellent reading on this subject, take a look at:
The Adventure of English by Melvyn Bragg.