Sunday, June 5, 2011

Weekend Words: Loanwords

A buffet table. Have you ever wondered why it's spelled with a "T," but pronounced "buf-A"?
Maybe you've noticed English speakers saying bon appetit before they eat their lunch, or you heard one say gesundheit when someone sneezed. Or maybe it's occurred to you that kindergarten is spelled with a "T," but garden is spelled with a "D." Or maybe you wondered why the "T" isn't pronounced in words like valet, fillet, buffet, or chalet. If you've experienced any of these situations, then you might have thought that English was a bit insane, but the truth is that you were simply noticing what's called "loanwords."

A loanword is simply a word that one language adopts or adapts from another language. Loanwords can really go from any language to another, but in English they're really common. As English has developed through the centuries, it has taken on many loanwords from languages like GreekGerman, Spanish, and, more recently, especially French

You can follow some of the links in this post to read more about loanwords now, and in the next few weeks we'll look at some specific loanwords from different languages. For now, I'd also recommend this interesting short story, which is written almost entirely with French loanwords!

Thanks for reading, and have a great day!

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-Ryan