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Many of the words we use today are “loanwords”, or words borrowed from other languages. It’s fascinating to think that over time, some foreign words can become a part of one’s language. This is due to contact with other cultures and languages. Usually, loanwords become part of a language when we encounter a new concept of if that word does not exist in the native language. Other times, the new words just sound “chic” and it slowly becomes part of the native language. Here are some commonly used loanwords that have become part of the English language:

  • Siesta, pronto, llama, armada, armadillo, barracuda, bronco (Spanish origin)
  • Bundt cake, delicatessen, hamburger, pretzel, pumpernickel, strudel (German origin)
  • Bonsi, haiku, karaoke, manga, origami, edamame, hibachi (Japanese origin)
  • Alchemy, alcove, alfalfa, algebra, carat, gazelle, hummus, lemon (Arabic origin)

It may seem ‘kitschy’ to be so ‘gung-ho’ about loanwords, but who knows, being familiar with these common words and phrases might stop you from committing a major ‘faux pas’ at your next important business ‘rendezvous’! If you would like to learn more about loan words, we suggest taking a look at these texts:

  • Borrowed Words: A History of Loanwords in English, by Philip P. Durkin
  • Loanwords in the World’s Languages: A Comparative Handbook, by Martin Haspelmath

Interested in learning more? Contact us today!