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English: word lending and borrowing

by: Marilyn Owen (7 February 2014)

It is a well-known fact that part of the richness of the English language is due to its many borrowings from French and Latin from 1066 up to around 1500. Indeed, according to Philip Durkin, deputy chief editor of the Oxford English Dictionary and author of Borrowed Words: A History of Loanwords in English, Latin and French were used during this time for important documents, legal matters and the Church, and were generally languages of learning.

English is such a fascinating and diverse language as such borrowings formed interesting synonyms for the existing Anglo Saxon words, resulting in a great choice of vocabulary. For example, "shut" (Old English scyttan 'put (a bolt) in position to hold fast', of West Germanic origin; related to Dutch schutten 'shut up, obstruct', and "close" (Middle English: from Old French clos-, stem of clore, from Latin claudere 'to shut'.) After 1500, English borrowings tended to be from German, for example, semester (1826) and seminar (1889), and reflect German advances in higher education at that time.

More recently, English word borrowings have often been of a culinary nature think of, for example, Tarka Dal (a creamy Indian lentil dish, Hindi 1984), popiah, a type of Singaporean or Malaysian spring roll (1986, from Malay), izakaya, a type of Japanese bar serving food (1987), and pizza (a flat, open faced baked pie of Italian origin, added 1930 to 1935).

Recently English has donated words to the international lexicon for example, internet, computer, business, and meeting - and so now the pendulum has swung perhaps the other way as English becomes, in Philip Durkin's words, "more of a lender than a borrower". It seems that the time has come for English to make its own important contributions to the international language and it will be interesting, as Mr Durkin says, to observe the progress of such word lendings.

Views: 1109

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Comments...

Ref: 59 Never heard of popiah or izakaya but now I know, I will look out for them!
Romany - 12:12 10-02-2014
Ref: 58 A good thing too, as otherwise they would be in a state of stagnation. A good point was raised recently on my Facebook page that maybe our exported words are from the US.
Marilyn - 10:57 10-02-2014
Ref: 57 Languages are always developing.
Garry - 08:23 10-02-2014

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