I observe that there are many words in Hindi/Sanskrit, the pronunciation of which, are appropriated by the International(especially US) English speaking crowd, for example:-

  • Yoga
  • Avatar
  • Ramayan
  • Mahabharat
  • Krishna

    etc.(Believe me, there are many, it's just that they are not coming on my mind right now)

I think that words from other languages(especially European ones) are not appropriated in such ways that their entire pronunciation changes drastically.

Am I wrong? Are they?

  • The pronunciation of yoga hasn’t really changed that much – the biggest difference is that Classical Sanskrit would have had [ɔː] where English has a diphthong [oʊ] or [əʊ] (and remember that Skt. /o/ comes from earlier /əʊ/, essentially the same). I also don’t think ramayan and mahabharat are common enough to be called English words. I’ve certainly never heard either before. Pajamas and juggernaut may be better examples. And yes, loan words from all languages get butchered in all languages – that’s part and parcel of different languages having differing phonetic inventories. Commented Feb 16, 2019 at 20:09
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    It's not clear what you're actually asking. Are you stating that some foreign words end up in English and their pronunciation remains mostly the same? Or are you stating that their pronunciation changes? And, whichever you believe is true, are you asking if that's appropriate? Or why that should be? Commented Feb 16, 2019 at 20:17
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    There are lots from Spanish that have get butchered, sorry, severely altered, in English. How about "guerilla warfare"? In English, "guerilla" sounds completely different from the original. Also there are tons from French (e.g. lingerie) and German (see Chris's answer). Commented Feb 16, 2019 at 22:36
  • Pick just about any English word. Consult a site like Etymology Online to find its origin. What do you see?
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Feb 16, 2019 at 23:10
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    Karma is one religious word that we use, probably with a very distorted meaning compared to the original. Thug is another widely used loan-word from Hindi.
    – The Photon
    Commented Feb 17, 2019 at 16:09

1 Answer 1


The English language has appropriated a great many European words and then changed the pronunciation of them. What immediately comes to mind are niche (usually pronounced as "nitch" instead of "neesh"), Reich ("Rike"), Gesundheit ("Gheesoontight") and Kindergarten ("Kindergarden").

The reasons are obvious: it is difficult for native English-speakers to pronounce certain sounds that are recurrent in other languages. The throat muscles, the placement of the tongue -- you have to practically retrain your body. On the other hand, it is difficult for native German-speakers to tackle words like excel, dust bowl, figure or things, so they come up with their own way of pronouncing these words comfortably when they use them in speeches about IoT or some such.

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    I would take psychology out of your list because it wasn't brought over untouched. Commented Feb 16, 2019 at 22:34
  • @aparente001 you're right, psychology is actually anglicized -- though I do find it interesting that English is one of the few languages that ignores p's in words like psyche or pterodactyl.
    – Chris W.
    Commented Feb 17, 2019 at 15:52

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