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Questions tagged [loanwords]

Questions about words borrowed by English from another language.

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16
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6answers
5k views

Should nouns borrowed from Japanese be pluralized?

As someone who has watched a lot of subtitled Japanese animation, it seems odd to hear a word such as ninja (used in the plural) in the dialogue and see it transliterated as ninjas. It somehow seems ...
14
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5answers
3k views

Diacritics and non-English letters in anglicized loan words: keep 'em, dump 'em, italicize the words, or what?

Take an expression like déjà vu. This is a French term which is frequently seen in English. In fact, it is included in English dictionaries. But it is often seen in English in a variety of forms: ...
40
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8answers
197k views

How did “sinister”, the Latin word for “left-handed”, get its current meaning?

Sinister is the Latin word for left-handed. What evolution of meaning turned left-handed into evil and threatening?
10
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4answers
3k views

Plurals of foreign words

What rules of thumb govern when to pluralise a foreign word as it should be in the original language and when it should be pluralised as an English word? For example, you'd get some funny looks using ...
12
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6answers
6k views

fait accompli – to italicize, or not to italicize

Background I was looking up the rule about italicizing foreign phrases and found an apparent consensus that the criterion is if the phrase is familiar. Well, who gets to decide that? I know perfectly ...
5
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4answers
1k views

Is it common to use the borrowed noun-adjective form for borrowed French phrases?

Lately, something has struck me. I've been hearing several expressions in English, some clearly borrowed from French and preserving their noun-adjective form. Some examples are: Attorney General ...
1
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2answers
3k views

How do you decline nouns borrowed from languages with several categories for declining nouns (or none at all)?

English has two grammatical categories of number. One is the singular, and the other is the plural. Many nouns in English have different singular and plural forms. When nouns are borrowed from ...
8
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5answers
668 views

Not “schadenfreude”, but related?

I'm thinking that there must be a word that means, rather than "feeling pleasure in the misfortune of another", "the pleasure of feeling superior to another". This certainly seems (at least) as ...
23
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8answers
8k views

How should foreign words (with foreign characters) be written in English text?

This question is not about italicisation or how to construct plurals. I wonder what are general guidelines for writing foreign words based on a Latin alphabet in English text. I know that, for ...
8
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3answers
6k 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 ...
7
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3answers
928 views

Foreign words reborrowed back into English

Wikipedia mentions several English words that have been reborrowed from Japanese: Anime comes from animation and has been reborrowed into English to mean Japanese-style animation. Puroresu comes from ...
5
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9answers
2k views

Are there any examples of cross-language redundancy (e.g. “kielbasa sausage”)?

I am amused by expressions that combine the same word in two different languages, for example: Kielbasa sausage: kielbasa is Polish for sausage. Chorizo sausage: chorizo is Spanish for sausage. Queso ...
30
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6answers
69k views

“Czar” vs “tsar” - origins and pronunciation

How did the word come into English with the two variants czar and tsar? The 'ts' spelling is a transliteration of the Russian 'царь', but the 'cz' spelling is what interests me more. To me it looks ...
3
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2answers
417 views

What rules govern uniform mispronounciation of romance languages? [closed]

As someone who isn’t a native speaker of English, I’m often fascinated by how those who are seem to change the pronunciation of words originally from French, Italian, Spanish, and so on in a seemingly ...
1
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1answer
182 views

Usage of English variants of foreign place names (Regensburg - Ratisbon)

Many place names have different form/spelling in English and in the original language of the country, in which they lie, e.g. Lyons x Lyon, The Hague x Den Haag, Munich x München. Most of them are ...
47
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17answers
10k 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 https://academia.stackexchange.com/posts/comments/123681?noredirect=1 Part of Answer: I don't think that particular research ...
31
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7answers
2k views

Usage of diacritics in loanwords

I was told here that not using diacritics (specifically the cedilla) is bad usage for those who know — I assume — their diacritics. Is that correct? Is garcon a correct spelling, in English, of the ...
25
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3answers
164k views

Does the casual use of “a la ___” in English preserve the French meaning?

In English, we use a la carte and a la mode, but it is also common for people to add their own word to the basic construction. For example, one might comment on someone's dancing: He showed us ...
16
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4answers
7k 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 ...
16
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4answers
59k views

How is the word “qua” used?

I play Scrabble. I'm learning words with the letter 'q'. What is the usage of the word 'qua'?
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4answers
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Etymology of “Spaghetti and gravy”

In Nero Wolfe "Before I die", the gangster's sidekick asks for spaghetti and gravy. After Wolfe's chef Fritz prepares him spaghetti with the type of gravy used for roast beef, it turns out that the ...
10
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1answer
3k views

Why Abraham and not Avraham?

In the Hebrew scriptures Abraham's name is Avraham and not Abraham (אַבְרָהָם). Is has a v and not a b. The same goes for Rebecca, who is called Rivka in Hebrew. Both v and b sounds are represented by ...
7
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2answers
1k views

Should capitalization be preserved in loanwords?

The fundamental principle of gestalt perception is the law of prägnanz (German for pithiness). In German, all nouns are capitalized. Should the above text be written as is, or with "the law of ...
6
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5answers
23k 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
346 views

What nouns of German origin should be given capital letters?

On another post an interesting fact has just been discovered about the OED's treatment of nouns adopted into English from German (loan-words). A lot of them e.g. Nazi are spelled with a capital ...
-1
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3answers
924 views

English from Icelandic?

Why is it that so many English words, as one traces their etymologies, run through Icelandic as one goes back?
7
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4answers
2k 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 ...
2
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3answers
960 views

Is there a term for French words adopted by the English language, such as “hors d'oeuvres” or “objet d'art”

I would call them "Frenchisms" or some such -ism, but I figured I'd at least ask first. So is there a name for such adopted foreign phrases? Also, how about those adopted from languages other than ...
1
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2answers
667 views

How people commonly pronounce gender neutral -@ or -x [closed]

More and more I see, especially in activist communities, Spanish-derived words ending in x or @ in order to neuter the gendering inherent in the original language. For example: latinx (or latin@) as ...
23
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7answers
3k views

Should foreign words used in English be inflected for gender, number, and case according to the conventions of their source language?

Is there a general rule for whether, for, example, foreign nouns and adjectives used in English should be inflected for gender, number, and case as they would be if the entire text were written in the ...
40
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2answers
7k views

Is the etymology of “salary” a myth?

Since, perhaps forever, I had always ‘known’ that the English word salary was derived from the Latin salarium, to the time when Roman soldiers were paid in salt for their service. Salt was a highly-...
24
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5answers
2k views

How do you spell Muammar Qaddafi?

This name, which is spelled القذافي in Arabic, is spelled in so many different ways in the Latin alphabet: Gadafi, Gadaffi, Gaddafi, Gaddaffi, Gadhafi, Gadhaffi, Ghadafi, Ghadaffi, Ghaddafi, ...
13
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6answers
8k views

How would you spell “Tehran” in English for it to be pronounced “correctly” (i.e. as in Persian)?

Native English speakers do not pronounce the h in Tehran so it is pronounced like "Teran". But in the original pronunciation in Persian the h is pronounced, resulting in /tehˈɾɒːn/. Is there any ...
12
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3answers
4k views

From French “manœuvre” to English “manoeuvre”, does “œ” exist in English?

Sadly, I don’t have much to add from the title to this question: does œ exist in English, such as in the word manœuvre? The same question may also apply to what the French call the “e dans l’a” (e in ...
11
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8answers
4k 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 ...
10
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2answers
202 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 ...
9
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2answers
1k views

The history of the English “postmeridian”

There's a question on English Language Learners that's been making the rounds recently, it's been on the Hot Network Questions list since January 5 this year and has attracted something like 36,000 ...
7
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4answers
17k views

Naïve, naïf, naïvety, naïveté

I have two related questions about the word "naïve" and its relatives. The first is, shouldn't it be "naïf" if the subject is male? I've been told that it's correct to use the correct ending of ...
2
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2answers
16k 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 ...
29
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5answers
6k views

Will the word 'schadenfreude' be understood in an English text?

In the context of a creative work, can I use the word 'schadenfreude'? For example: I experienced immense schadenfreude when my friend slipped on a banana peel. Will it be understood by a general ...
20
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2answers
42k views

Why is the “a” in “cocoa” silent?

Not being a native speaker of English, one of those words that tripped me up is “cocoa”. Besides having its vowels inverted from “cacao”; it also is pronounced exactly the same as “coco”, whereas “...
18
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2answers
2k 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 ...
13
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1answer
7k views

Why isn't “connoisseur” spelled “connaisseur”?

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. ...
11
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7answers
3k views

Why are there so few words in English that are derived from Welsh?

Why are there so few words in English that are derived from Welsh? Wikipedia mentions only 11.
11
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5answers
1k views

Did British chef Jamie Oliver redefine “pukka” in 1999?

Recently I've been watching cooking programmes: MasterChef Italia (addictive), MasterChef USA (awful), followed swiftly by Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmares, and then onto Jamie Oliver's acclaimed The ...
10
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5answers
27k 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 ...
9
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1answer
9k views

Interjection “et voilà”

I know et voilà is a French interjection and means there it is. It is very much used in the US. Why is the use of et voilà so popular in the US? Which historical fact has made it so popular?
6
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1answer
5k views

Why is baba ghanouj pronounced with a final “sh” sound?

Baba ghanouj is a delicious Middle Eastern dip made from roast eggplant and garlic. I've found the name spelled a multitude of different ways on the internet, but there are two peculiar things about ...
5
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5answers
18k views

Pronunciation of foreign words in American vs. British English?

One of the differences between modern US English (hereafter referred to as "American English") and British English is the way in which we pronounce foreign words, particularly those of French origin ...
5
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1answer
3k 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 ...