Where do our words come from?

1. Sushi has become one of the most familiar Japanese words in contemporary English. When was it borrowed into English?

Answer: 1890s

The earliest example of the Japanese loanword sushi in the Oxform English Dictionary dates from 1893. However, like many loanwords, it was very rare in early use, and most of the earliest examples in print explain what sushi is for English readers. The word has increased greatly in frequency in recent decades, just as sushi restaurants have spread worldwide.

2. Don’t be spooked. From which language did English borrow the word poltergeist?

Answer: German

Poltergeist first appeared in English in the 1840s, and is not uncommon in 19th century writing about the paranormal – a topic that interested many Victorians greatly. In German, Poltergeist has a much longer history; it is found frequently in the writings of the 16th century religious reformer Martin Luther. It is from polter “to make a loud noise or uproar” and Geist “spirit, ghost”.

3. What is the original meaning of the word kiwi?

Answer: Type of bird

Kiwi is a Maori word for a type of flightless bird, and was borrowed into English in the 1800s. It is found as a nickname for New Zealand sports teams, soldiers, concert party members, etc. from the early 1900s. It is found as a name for the Chinese gooseberry only from the 1960s, after these began to be exported from New Zealand.

4. Which of the following is a borrowing from Italian?

Answer: Macaroni

Macaroni came into English from Italian in the 1600s (although the related macaroon came earlier, via French). Office comes from French (around 1300), while cargo and aficionado both come from Spanish (in the 1600s and 1800s).

5. There are very many familiar French words in English, but there are also some words that look and sound like French borrowings but have actually come into English from other languages. Which of these words is not borrowed from French?

Answer: Miniature

Although it looks like a French form, miniature almost certainly came into English directly from Italian miniatura in the 1580s. It isn’t found in French until the 1640s. (Police, rampart and patrol are all of French origin and entered English in the 1400s, 1500s, and 1600s.)

6. It might be unspoken of, but which language was the word taboo borrowed into English from?

Answer: Tongan

Taboo was borrowed into English directly from Tongan in the 1770s. It is first recorded in the journals of the navigator and explorer Captain James Cook.

7. Which of these everyday words was borrowed into English from Latin?

Answer: Fork

Fork is an early borrowing into English, from Latin furca.

8. Most borrowed verbs are weak verbs, eg post/posted, indicate/indicated. Which of the following strong verbs is a borrowed word?

Answer: Strive

Strive is a borrowing from French, first recorded in English in the 1220s. It is rare for borrowed verbs to be inflected strong (eg strive, strove, striven) but there are a few other examples, eg shrive (an early borrowing from Latin).

9. Many words for types of food and drink have been borrowed into English from other languages, some of them at a very early date. Which of these words entered English earliest?

Answer: Wine

Although the Anglo-Saxons were not great wine drinkers, the word wine is found in English from earliest times, showing a very early borrowing from Latin. Fruit is first recorded in the 1100s, from French. Cake is first found in the 1200s, and was probably borrowed from early Scandinavian. Potato was borrowed in the 1560s, from Spanish (ultimately from Taino).

10. Sometimes more than one English word can come from the same source. Which of these words is not related to the other three?

Answer: Ink

Inch and ounce and the learned word uncia are all borrowings from Latin uncia, (twelfth part), at different dates and with different meanings. Ink is a borrowing of a variant of encre, (ink) from French.

11. Some borrowed words are harder to spot than others. Which of these words was borrowed into English from another language?

Answer: Rucksack

Rucksack was borrowed into English in the mid 1800s from German. It’s formed from Ruck, variant of Rücken (back) and Sack (bag, sack). Although back-pack, packsack, and kit-bag aren’t borrowings, pack and kit probably both are, from Dutch. Haversack and knapsack are other borrowed words with similar meanings.

12. The word tomato has been in English since the 1600s. Which language was it borrowed into English from?

Answer: Spanish

Although the word tomato comes ultimately from Nahuatl tomatl (tomato), it came into English via Spanish tomate. A similar history is shown by French tomate, Portuguese tomate, German Tomate. (In English the word was also originally tomate; the modern form tomato probably results from association with the name of a different plant ultimately of American origin, the potato.)

13. It’s a traditional part of the British breakfast today, but which language was marmalade borrowed into English from?

Answer: Portuguese

Although most early borrowings from Portuguese (and Spanish) came into English via French, marmalade appears to be a very early borrowing into English directly from Portuguese. We can tell this by comparing the date at which the word is recorded in different European languages. Medieval diplomatic and trading relations between Portugal and England explain how this direct borrowing could have occurred.

14. Some borrowings can be found even among very common everyday vocabulary. Which of the following is not a loanword?

Answer: Fight

Peace, war, and battle are among the minority of French loanwords that have penetrated into the everyday language of modern English. Like most such words, both first appear in English within the first two centuries after the Norman Conquest. The word war reflects a form that is typical of Anglo-Norman (the French of England) and of north-eastern France. Fight has been part of the English language from earliest times.

15. Sometimes borrowings creep in even among the grammatical vocabulary that provides the building blocks of English. Which of the following is a loanword?

Answer: They

The third-person pronoun they (and with it their and them) shows a borrowing from Scandinavian. It is first recorded around 1200, but was probably borrowed earlier than this, when Scandinavian settler communities in late Anglo-Saxon England were switching from using Scandinavian languages to using English as their language of everyday communication. Such borrowing of pronouns is very rare, and this example shows the intimate interaction between Scandinavian languages and English in medieval Britain.

Philip Durkin is the deputy chief editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, his book Borrowed Words: A History of Loanwords in English, is out now.

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Where do our words come from?
japanese language – Yahoo News Search Results
japanese language – Yahoo News Search Results

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