Questions about words borrowed by English from another language.

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1
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1answer
70 views

Should I use 'leitmotifs', the plural of leitmotif, in academic English?

Should I, in an scientific book, use the word 'leitmotifs', the plural of leitmotif? Some dictionaries seem to know it in the plural form, but does it sound very weird or massively pretentious to the ...
4
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2answers
85 views

Since when do scouts look, rather than listen?

Scout (verb) seems to be attested in English from late 14c.: "observe or explore as a scout, travel in search of information," from Old French escouter "to listen, heed" (Modern French écouter). ...
0
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2answers
113 views

Phrases using the Arabic particle “al” as a separate word apart from “Al Qaeda” and “Al Jazeera”

Many words incorporated into English a long time ago have the Arabic particle "al" incorporated into them. For example, "algebra" and "alcohol". But does English have commonly used phrases with the ...
5
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1answer
111 views

Where did 'cahoot" come from, when did it first appear, and how did it acquire its pejorative sense?

According to Merriam-Webster's Eleventh Collegiate Dictionary (2003), cahoot, meaning a partnership or league, and usually expressed in the plural form "in cahoots," has a first known publication date ...
2
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1answer
55 views

How common is “kia ora” in New Zealand English?

As I understand it, the Maori greeting "kia ora" is used by many New Zealanders. How likely is this greeting to be used in New Zealand English by people who don't speak Maori? On one end of the ...
1
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1answer
120 views

How to properly borrow words from other languages? [closed]

For example, if I took the Russian word "Toska" and transposed into an English word "tosk (pronounced as "təʊsk") and created such words and phrases as "toskful", "tosk-stricken", "toskfulness", "to ...
4
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2answers
159 views

“Bon/bonne chance!”: spelling and loanword specifics?

The adjective bon crossed over the Channel "in phrases such as bon apétit (1860), literally "good appetite;" bon-ton (1744) "good style;" bon mot." (Online Etymology Dictionary) Also with bon, ...
15
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3answers
678 views

Button up that frog, will you?

What is the etymology of frog? I'm referring to the elaborate braid fastenings often found on 18th and 19th century military costumes, not the amphibian. Wikipedia tells me Frogs and frogging ...
1
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2answers
216 views

Adjective for a person who is constantly full of wonder/awe

I'm sure you've met someone like this; a person whose understanding of nature, structure and the universe leaves them constantly awed by the complexity of practically everything. I'm looking for a ...
41
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16answers
7k views

Is “act like a mensch” too localized for ELU readers (U.S. and/or British English)?

This question was motivated by an interesting comment that was made at http://academia.stackexchange.com/posts/comments/123681?noredirect=1 Part of Answer: I don't think that particular research ...
9
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6answers
401 views

Can foreign words be reduced into English morphemes?

In class today, during an activity when we were given the task of breaking down a list of words into morphemes, I had a disagreement with a professor who tried to convince me that the word ...
2
votes
1answer
109 views

Is there an equivalent of diaeresis, but for consonants?

I know that diaeresis is used to show that two adjacent vowels are not a diphthong but should be pronounced separately, as in naïve or Zoë. Is there an equivalent mark or format in current ...
9
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2answers
120 views

Declined Latin nouns in English prose

In German it was customary to decline Latin words used in German prose. One might, for instance, speak of performing a reductionem ad absurdum, using the the accusative form of the word reductio when ...
4
votes
2answers
727 views

Why do American English speakers pronounce both syllables in “challah” equally?

I live in the US, and I've noticed that "challah" seems to be generally pronounced by Americans as something like /hala:/ (or possibly /ha:lə/), with either equal stress on both syllables or a slight ...
1
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4answers
232 views

What's the name for when a word changes its pronunciation because of how people read?

With greater literacy in the past 100 years, most English speakers are also proficient at writing. Sometimes due to the great divide between English spellings and the true pronunciation, people will ...
0
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1answer
66 views

Why do all new words come from English? [closed]

English used to import words from other languages. I was listening to a French station and they used the words 'hate-free zone' and 'selfie'. The last time I remember English using importing a foreign ...
4
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3answers
148 views

Is “terroir” never translated?

It seems that terroir is always used in English as the original in French. Wikipedia proposes a somewhat vague translation: Terroir can be very loosely translated as "a sense of place" But is ...
1
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1answer
46 views

What's the best way to format a loan word in an English sentence?

Say I have a word from another language that I am very fond of and I want to just plop it in a sentence without trying to translate it. Should I use italics? Example: I've never cared for winter ...
2
votes
2answers
484 views

English equivalent of tsundere

I wonder if anyone has an approximation for the Japanese “tsundere”? Tsundere (ツンデレ, pronounced [tsɯndeɽe]) is a Japanese character development process that describes a person who is initially ...
10
votes
1answer
571 views

Expectaltee: A person who expects something

The word of the day: † expectaltee, n. Obs. rare. A person who expects something. [OED] You might ask how on the earth expectaltee is a word. Well, apparently it is a word but the origin is ...
5
votes
1answer
388 views

Thrown by 'broncho.' Or is it 'bronco'? Or 'bronc'?

Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, first edition (1908) has this entry for broncho: Broncho (brŏn´kō), n. {Sp. bronco rough, wild.} A native or a Mexican horse of small size. {Western U.S.} Four ...
11
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9answers
2k views

Are there good English expressions for “raison d’être” and “joie de vivre”? [closed]

I know the two phrases have been adopted into the English lexicon, but raison d’être and joie de vivre are phrases, not words. As phrases they certainly sound better in French than would their ...
1
vote
2answers
123 views

The noun “alternative” [closed]

If I am not mistaken, the noun alternative has roots in the Latin word alter, which translates to: the other (of two). My question would be: why does the word alternative have plural in English? It ...
7
votes
4answers
767 views

French (and, hey, others too) equivalent of “anglicize”

Is there a preferred word that means "to change (a word) to sound (or otherwise appear) as if it came from French"? I've found both "Frenchize" and "Francize" with a web search. If the latter is ...
3
votes
1answer
89 views

When to use 'al' in front of 'Qaeda'?

I've noticed over the years that certain publications use 'al' in front of 'Qaeda' in certain situations, and others do not. From the little I know, I understand that 'al' is the definite article in ...
5
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4answers
2k views

Is there a synonym for “schadenfreude” that sounds more colloquial?

Is there a more colloquial synonym for "schadenfreude"? I'm specifically looking for a noun that denotes a pleasure derived from other people's misfortunes or sufferings. Sadly, I couldn't find any ...
25
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4answers
6k views

Where on Earth is “penguin” from?

Fact or fallacy? It's one of those things you hear or casually read somewhere that sticks with you. The word penguin is derived from Welsh; pen refers to "head", while gywn means "white". Well, it's ...
0
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0answers
385 views

Word/Phrase List to Describe Different Types of Relationships

The Swedish language has a big list of the words which describe the various types of the relationships. Many of those words just were coined recently. There is even the word which describes the people ...
2
votes
1answer
636 views

Words Starting with Double Consonants

Double consonants often appear in the middle or at the end of a word like: kitty, Eiffel, thriller, brilliant bass, guess, basketball However, I wonder if there are any words (including ...
2
votes
2answers
245 views

“You just won the lottery? Chapeau!”

"You just won the lottery? Chapeau!" This is the first time I have seen such usage in English. Literally 'Chapeau' means 'hat', but the intention (that I get from the internet) is something ...
1
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1answer
100 views

What does tympany mean? [closed]

There is tympanic cavity but also intestinal tympany (distended bowel). I cannot see relation. What does tympany mean?
3
votes
2answers
267 views

How common is the French loanword “métier”?

Our daughter lives in Leeds and is a scientist too, although not in my field, her speciality is haematology. My son lives in Manchester at the moment, for the music scene, he says. He writes his ...
15
votes
6answers
3k views

When using the French word “sans” in an English sentence, should I use italics?

In the sentence, below, I am using the French word sans to mean without. Should sans be italicized? Or, should all of "sans human civilization" be italicized? Planet Earth sans human civilization ...
4
votes
2answers
264 views

Word for letters from a foreign or unknown language

I used to describe these characters as Cyrillic ("I don't understand the cyrillic text on this poster"), but I learned today that Cyrillic is an actual type of script/alphabet! Is there an English ...
0
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1answer
183 views

What is the correct usage of arriviste/parvenu? [closed]

In one of the episodes of the TV show Rosemary & Thyme the word arriviste/parvenu was used. Context how it was used: Person A considers person B as an arriviste/parvenu. Person A is rich and ...
4
votes
4answers
333 views

Is “chutzpah” used by non-Jewish English speakers?

Chutzpah is a term common to both Hebrew and Yiddish, and has been imported into English, at least for Jews. It means approximately audacity, nerve, insolence. Is chutzpah also used by non-Jewish ...
16
votes
2answers
1k views

“Quyer” When and why did the spelling change so drastically?

The snippet above is taken from The Gentleman's Magazine (London, England), Volume 53, dated, 1783. It's only when you say Quyer out loud, do you realize what the word is. It is one of the ...
8
votes
1answer
797 views

Spelling of the word “connoisseur”

From what I gathered on the Web, "connoisseur" is spelled that way because it is derived from the old french verb "connoître" (to know) which has been spelled "connaître" for close to two centuries. ...
21
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5answers
2k views

What does “bupke” mean?

There was the following passage in the New Yorker's (August 27) article titled, “A scandal at the C.I.A. May be.” : In January I (David Shafer, novelist) filed a Freedom of Information Act request ...
0
votes
3answers
433 views

Word for sharing an old experience with someone new

Jamais vu is when an experience that is old to you suddenly seems new. But I'm looking for something even more specific. Is there a word for that feeling you get when an old experience is refreshed ...
0
votes
1answer
1k views

Survey vs Surveil

Is survey just an Anglicisation of the loan-word surveil, or have the meanings split? http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/survey and http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/surveil suggests that ...
6
votes
2answers
4k views

What led to the increased usage of “schtupping”?

I was listening to a television show the other day and one of the characters used "schtupping": schtupping — to have sexual intercourse with Dictionary.com notes that the term's origin is ...
1
vote
1answer
423 views

Where does the term “hardware” in computer science comes from?

The term Software was coined in 195x. And it was opposed the term Hardware, physical part of a computer system, which is tangible. But where does the term Hardware comes from (from which of the ...
21
votes
5answers
743 views

Is “kip” Chinese in origin?

While looking up the history of kip, I realized that the information about its origins is rather scant. The noun and verb to kip in BrEng is often said when a person wishes to take a short sleep or a ...
2
votes
2answers
4k views

What is the history of “nil” in British football /soccer?

In British football if neither team scores a goal, the score is said to be: nil-nil or nil-nil draw. Curiously, the winning team's results are always spoken first. So if Arsenal are playing home the ...
8
votes
3answers
2k views

Why is “poignant” pronounced /ˈpɔɪɲənt/?

I felt a little bit strange when I heard poignant pronounced as /ˈpɔɪɲənt/. It is also pronounced as /ˈpɔɪgnənt/, but the former seems to be more popular. A word stagnant has similar spelling, but ...
4
votes
3answers
946 views

Why are foreign words used in modern vernacular?

Why are seemingly foreign words such as hors d’œuvres, maître d’, garçon, and Gesundheit used in American vernacular?
4
votes
4answers
782 views

A French Phrase Similar to “Expertise”

I am looking for a phrase that is used occasionally in English as a near synonym of "expertise". For some reason, "coup d'mentarie" keeps going through my mind, but I don't believe this actually means ...
2
votes
1answer
108 views

A term for redundancy in loan words?

Unfortunately, I can only think of one example at the moment, but, sometimes a loan or borrowed phrase is redundant because it includes in it both the lending and borrowing languages' words for the ...
10
votes
5answers
11k views

Why is quixotic pronounced as it is?

Since "quixotic" was coined with Don Quixote as its basis, why is it pronounced "kwicks-OTT-ick" when it should by rights/origin be pronounced "Key-HO-tick"? It even sounds more onomatopoeiatic the ...