On tonight's broadcast of NPR's All Things Considered, host Robert Siegel interviewed Ralph Keyes, who "writes about words for American Scholar magazine." The topic was a contest run by the magazine to find suitable English replacement words (neologisms, in this case) for four words which have been borrowed into English but have entered common parlance to varying degrees: mensch, frisson, schadenfreude, and sympatico/sympathique.

While the proposed neologisms were on the whole underwhelming, I did come to wonder: is there a word for the conscious replacement of foreign words with English substitutes, either as an editorial action in a specific work or as a broader, sociolinguistics endeavor? 'Anglicization' came to mind, but I think of that more with respect to spelling or pronunciation (i.e., not wholesale word replacement). Is there a term for this process?

(Incidentally, isn't it the French who have a semi-governmental process to guard against foreign word borrowings, at least as far as the official language,mwhatever that means, is concerned? If so,mother obviously 'anglicization' can't be right, assuming this French body performs a similar effort to replace foreign words with French alternatives, officially or un....)


2 Answers 2


But English doesn't need nor tend to Englishize foreign words. Not any more. Or much less so than in the past.

Think of the relatively new Italian words adopted by English: cappuccinos; latte; espresso; paparazzi; la dolce vita; and simpatico. They're easy to pronounce, they need no explanations, they make the speaker sound cultured and worldly.

Why would English speakers prefer to say: white coffees with froth; milky strong coffee (actually in Italian it's "milk"); very fast reduced black coffee; freelance press photographers who hound celebrities; the sweet life; and nice?

Englishize/Englishise; 1 To make English in manner or in language: ‘the Englishised Indian’ (Blackwood's Magazine, 1922).

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Concise Oxford Companion to the English Language

Plus I discovered another reference dated 1813 which suggests that the term Englishise is not so fanciful or so recent as suggested by @fumblefingers in the comments below. The book is entitled:

Historical and descriptive Accounts of the Ancient and Present State of Ragland Castle. By Charles Heath. The sixth edition.

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Therefore, it appears that the term Englishize (or englishis/ze) although less common than Anglicize, is accepted and is a more than valid alternative.

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    Let's face it, Englishise is just a facetious nonce-word. The established term (recorded in OED since at least 1710) is anglicize - verb, trans. To borrow or render (a word, phrase, etc.) into English Jan 30, 2014 at 14:45
  • Is chipottle a foreign word? Jan 30, 2014 at 17:39
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    Now would the downvoter care to justify his/her downvote. As I have always done so, more often than not and to help the user to improve the answer.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jan 31, 2014 at 11:20
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    Englishize, "To adapt towards English" seems from these definitions to be a term applied only to non-English languages. And @BlessedGeek: I would say chipotle is still very much a foreign word, being Mexican Spanish and originating in Nahuatl. It may in future be anglicised, in which case chipottle to reflect English pronunciation is a distinct possibility. Jan 31, 2014 at 11:42
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    @TimLymington Yes, I think you may be right. I became a bit fixed on the word itself and didn't interpret the definition (on the 2nd reference) clearly. The third one seems valid enough though. Thank you for the clarification.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jan 31, 2014 at 11:46

I don't know if there's a word, but there is a belief called linguistic purity in English that advocates for the use of native English words over foreign ones. Foreign words can be translated into English, creating a calque that is derived from the other language. Interestingly, the Wikipedia article notes that "calque" itself comes from French.

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    "English purism": economist.com/blogs/prospero/2014/01/english-purism
    – Hugo
    Jan 30, 2014 at 9:10
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    @Colin, you'd end up with Icelandic, basically. Jan 30, 2014 at 9:28
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    It's called suicidal linguistic tendencies. Jan 30, 2014 at 9:33
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    Yes, but it means it in German instead of Greek. This apparently matters to some. Another term beside calque is loan translation. As for English Purity, see William Barnes' 1878 An Outline of English Speech-Craft, which is a grammar of English without loan words. Jan 30, 2014 at 10:06
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    @BlessedGeek, why suicidal? Icelandic gets on quite well with it, saying tölva instead of kompjúter, þyrla instead of helíkopter, and (perhaps somewhat tongue-twistingly) rannsóknarlögreglumaður instead of detektívur. Jan 30, 2014 at 10:49

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