Questions tagged [loanwords]

Questions about words borrowed by English from another language.

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47
votes
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 ...
40
votes
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?
40
votes
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-...
31
votes
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 ...
31
votes
1answer
9k views

From which language has English borrowed the most words?

From which language has English borrowed the most words?
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 ...
30
votes
4answers
92k views

Why is the word 'bologna' pronounced like 'baloney'?

Why is the word 'bologna' (as in a bologna sandwich) pronounced so differently from the way it's spelled? The word 'lasagna' isn't pronounced 'lasagney'... The American sausage is derived from a ...
29
votes
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 ...
27
votes
7answers
130k views

Pronunciation of “cache”

I have been pronouncing the word "cache" as kaysh. I know a few people who pronounce it more like cash, cashay or even catch. After consulting a few dictionaries, it turns out that the correct ...
25
votes
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 ...
25
votes
6answers
10k 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 ...
24
votes
6answers
5k 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 ...
24
votes
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, ...
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 ...
23
votes
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 ...
23
votes
6answers
4k 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 ...
20
votes
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 “...
20
votes
5answers
2k 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 ...
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 ...
17
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5answers
5k views

Does the word “uzi” need to be capitalized?

"Uzi" is not contained in any Scrabble® dictionary that I can find online. I am assuming that the Scrabble® powers that be are treating it as a proper noun. However, after reading the Wikipedia ...
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'?
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 ...
16
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2answers
2k views

“newfangled”, “fandangle” and “fandango”

I see a little silhouetto of a man Scaramouche, Scaramouche, will you do the Fandango? Anyone who's over 30 years should recognize the lyrics of Queen's epic song Bohemian Rhapsody A fandango is ...
15
votes
2answers
1k views

Term for anticipating counterarguments and rebutting them

There's this term for the rhetorical device of anticipating counterarguments and rebutting them, but I simply can't remember it. Now I know what you're thinking - did you try googling it? Well I did,...
14
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7answers
35k views

How did “gesundheit” work its way into common American usage?

Once upon a time I was hanging out with a fairly international group of people. Somebody sneezed, and one of the Americans reflexively responded, "Gesundheit!" A German in the group seized on the ...
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: ...
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 ...
13
votes
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. ...
12
votes
7answers
3k views

For native speakers, what are dumplings? [closed]

When I started to learn English, my teacher told me dumplings is a translation for Chinese 饺子 (a food, also widely found in Japan or Korea). But after a few years, I was surfing on the internet and ...
12
votes
2answers
989 views

Word for a cushy position awarded to a crony? [duplicate]

I'm struggling to recall this word. If I recall correctly, it's of French origin. My search has so far been fruitless. The nearest equivalent I came up with was the idiom pulling strings but that is ...
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 ...
12
votes
6answers
877 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 "...
12
votes
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 ...
11
votes
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 ...
11
votes
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 ...
11
votes
1answer
9k views

Are “tomorrow” and “morning” etymologically related?

I know this is true for German and Spanish: Morgen morgen and Mañana por la mañana both mean "tomorrow morning". There may well be other examples too. I wonder- since these languages have ...
11
votes
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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3answers
1k views

How should a person holding a foreign military rank be addressed?

While researching how to call a person that holds a rank at a foreign (non English speaking) military, I came to very confusing results: Wikipedia is not consistent on the issue: it sometimes gives ...
11
votes
1answer
168 views

Adding -s to French city names

This seems to be fairly common pattern. The modern English names of several French or French-related cities seem to add s for no obvious reason. Marseille > Marseilles Lyon > Lyons Tanger ...
10
votes
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 ...
10
votes
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 ...
10
votes
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 ...
10
votes
2answers
529 views

Schools and Shoals

School, as a group of fish, entered Middle English: late Middle English: from Middle Low German, Middle Dutch schōle, of West Germanic origin; related to Old English scolu ‘troop’. (NOAD) Shoal, ...
10
votes
2answers
1k views

Have any pseudo-anglicisms become proper English words?

There are plenty of pseudo-anglicisms in other languages around the world: Handy, Pullunder, Showmaster and Beamer¹ in German. These words, though borrowed from English, are used differently from ...
10
votes
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
votes
4answers
24k views

Why is the initial “ts” sound (e.g “tsunami”) pronounced as “s”?

Why is the word "tsunami" often pronounced as "sunami"? Can English speakers pronounce "ts"? Is it because the initial "ts" looks foreign?
9
votes
1answer
2k views

Why did English borrow verbs ending in -ish? [closed]

Why did English borrow verbs ending in -ish, but not in anything else, from French? This seems quite obscure because it didn't import the verbs from the infinitive French forms, but through some sorts ...
9
votes
2answers
681 views

Do the Eskimo/Inuit languages really have more words for snow than English

I've read in some sources that there are more words in the Eskimo/Inuit language to describe types of snow that have arisen out of necessity. I've also read in other sources that this is just urban ...
9
votes
5answers
26k views

Why do some English speakers pronounce “fête” as “fate”?

In French, from whom we’ve borrowed the word, it’s /fɛt/ “fet”. But if we pronounced it as if it were an English word after dropping the accent, it would be /fi:t/ “feet”. Yet the pronunciation we ...