The English language is one of the largest languages in the world. Not only is it one of the most commonly learned languages both as a first and second language, it also has an extraordinarily large amount of words. One of the reasons for this is the amount of loaned words (aka loanwords) from other languages. The word smörgåsbord (discussed in a previous post) is an example of a word borrowed from the Swedish language. According to the Oxford Dictionaries website:
The Second Edition of the 20-volume Oxford English Dictionary contains full entries for 171,476 words in current use, and 47,156 obsolete words. To this may be added around 9,500 derivative words included as subentries.
That adds up to over 230,000 words, which is huge compared to the number of words in, say, the Swedish language. (Estimated to be around 40,000) Learning English, particularly as a second language, is a monumental undertaking.
Other words loaned from Swedish include: moped, ombudsman, gauntlet and tungsten.
One might be surprised to learn that the word pundit is loaned from the Hindi language. While we think of a pundit as a kind of pompous talking head on the Fox network, the original Hindi word pandit means “learned scholar or priest.” Bill O’Reilly is good example of a pundit, although I don’t think he’s particularly scholarly nor very priestly.
Here are a few other loanwords of interest:
From Arabic: admiral, alcohol, coffee, guitar, lemon, magazine, sofa
From Chinese: ketchup
From Czech: robot, pistol
From Dutch: bazooka, aloof, bluff, coleslaw, cookie, golf, landscape
From French: abandon, bastard, and calorie to name a few. There are approximately 80,000 words of French origin in the English language due to a minor incident that occurred in the year 1066 near the town of Hastings.
From Hebrew: behemoth, canister, jubilee.
From Italian: balcony, figurine
From Turkish: balaclava, lackey, vampire
From Welsh: flummery (the pudding, that is)
Of course there are many (ten of thousands) more, but I think this is a good sample.
Bye for now.