Borrowings into English as a Sociolinguistic aspect

Borrowings as a way of replenishment of the vocabulary, auses and riteria, classification, grammatical and lexical assimilation. Historical Contacts between England and The world countries. Russian, French, German, Latin, Greek loan words in English.

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Ministry of Education of the Republic Moldova

Comrat State University Faculty of National Culture

Department of Foreign Languages

Research Work:

Borrowings into English as a Sociolinguistic aspect.

Made by:

Student of group NA-08

Arabadji Svetlana

Checked by:

Tabanova I.R.

Comrat 2011



Chapter I. Borrowings as a way of replenishment of the vocabulary

1.1 The notion of borrowings

1.2 Causes and ways of borrowings

1.3 Criteria of borrowings

1.4 Classification of borrowings according to the borrowed aspect

1.5 Assimilation of borrowings

1.5.1 Phonetic assimilation

1.5.2 Grammatical assimilation

1.5.3 Lexical assimilation

Chapter II. Historical Contacts between England and The world countries

2.1. Russian Loan Words in English

2.2. French Loan Words in the modern English Language

2.3. German Loan Words in English

2.4. Latin Loan Words in English

2.5. Greek Loan Words in English





nglish grammatical lexical

The English vocabulary contains an immense number of words of foreign origin. Words that came to English from other languages and constantly used in it as the original are called borrowings. One of the main way of enlarging the lexical system of the language is represented by borrowings. The role of borrowings is different in various languages and it depends on certain development conditions.

The quantity of borrowed words in English is much higher than in other languages. The English language had more opportunities to borrow words from other languages due to the great history of England that includes various invaders and battles.

It is calculated that 30% of all English words are native. That's why a lot of linguists consider that the English language doesn't belong to the group of Germanic languages but to the Romano-Germanic group.

It happens very often that a foreign word comes to English and it is borrowed not only with its lexical meaning but also with its grammar form which makes more difficulties for those people who study and speak English. It allows us to speak that the topic of this project is relevant. The issue of Russian borrowings is very important in terms os sociolinguistics and language interaction developement.

The aim of this project is to study the usage borrowings in the English language, to analyze what words of foreign origin have been borrowed into English and to study their thematic groups and find out whether they have undergone some morphological and semantic changes in English or not and compare the received results with the above mentioned postulates.

The aim, the subject and the object of this project allow us to state the following research tasks:

1) to analyze what words of Russian origin have been borrowed into English

2) to study the question of borrowing and their role in English;

3) to study the types of borrowings in the English language;

The investigation was done on the base of many dictionaries: Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary and The American Heritage Dictionary of the English language,

It is used the descriptive, comparative, etymologycal and analytical methods in this project.

The theoretical base of this project is stands on the works of such scientists in the sphere of linguistics as Charles F. Hockett, Alarik Rynell, J. A. Sheard, Otto Jesperson, Mitford M. Mathews, Thomas Pyles and John Algeo and others.

Structurally, this project consists of the introduction, theoretical and practical parts, conclusion and bibliography.

In the introduction it was explained the aim, the object, the subject, theoretical base of research, theoretical and practical sigificance, methods of research structure of the work, tasks and the relevancy of the project.

In the theoretical part the questions of borrowings, types of borrowings and ways of their assimilation were examined.

The theoretical significance of the work lies in the fact, that the investigation of Russian borrowings and its linguistic aspects contribute for the further developement of sociolinguistics theory, Russian studies etc.

The practical part represents the analysis of 59 words of Russian origin from two dictionaries: Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary and The American Heritage Dictionary of the English language and illustration of their peculiarities by giving examples from different texts. Since the majority of these words were borrowed during various periods of time from the 16th century until now it is difficult to find such examples from one particular source. Therefore we decided to collect them from different Internet sources.

All main thoughts are set in the conclusion of the project.

Bibliography consists of 30 sources.

Chapter I. Borrowings as a way of replenishment of the vocabulary

Being an adaptive system, the vocabulary is constantly adjusting itself to the changing conditions of human communication. New notions appear, requiring new words to name them. New words, expressions or neologisms are created for new things. The neologism is a newly coined word or phrase or a new meaning for an existing word. There is a problem of denomination. It is not still clear which words to consider new? The most rational point is that new words are the ones that appeared in the last years of the previous generation.

The borrowed words are taken from another language and modified in phonemic shape, spelling, paradigm or meaning according to the standards of English. They came in diffirent times. Early Latin borrowings were adopted in the 1st century BC (butter, chalk, kitchen). In the 5th century AD there penetrated a few Celtic words into English (cradle, London). In the 7th century AD, during the Christianisation, there were adopted many religious terms from Latin (priest, nun). From the end of the 7th century till the middle of the 11th century there penetrated Scandinavian words into the English language (window, husband, law, ugly, weak, call, take, die). The Scandinavian words are similar in pronunciation to the Anglo-Saxon ones. Many Scandinavian words start with the sk-cluster: skill, skin, ski, skirt, sky. In 1066 when the Norman Conquest took place, England became a bilingual country. French was officially introduced into the life of the people. The French words borrowed at that period are of the following layers: administrative, military terms (army, officer), educational (pupil, pencil, library), words of everyday life (dinner, river, uncle). In the Renaissance period there were borrowed numerous words from Latin and Greek connected with science (university, professor), Italian (piano, opera, violin etc.). In the 18th-20th centuries the basis of the words became different due to the colonial expansion: Indian (pundit), Arabic (sherbet), Chinese etc. The Russian borrowings in the English language are of the following layers: prerevolutionary (before 1917 vodka, valenkis, pelmenis), sovietisms (preserve only Russian meaning: polit-bureau, 5-year-plan) and the perestroika period.

1.1 The notion of borrowings

According to some linguists Borrowed words (loan words, borrowings) are words taken over from another language and modified according to the patterns of the receiving language.

Nowadays borrowing is not very important in the every day life but it is active in the sphere of science. It is common that a lot of terms are often made up of borrowed morphemes in general from classical languages.

The most characteristic feature of English is usually said to be its mixed character.Man linguists consider foreign inf1uence, to be the most important factor in the history of English. This wide-spread viewpoint is supported n1 b the evidence of the ng1ish word-stock, as its grammar and phonetic system very stable nd not easi1y inf1uenced b other 1anguages. While it is altogether wrong to speak of the mixed character of the language as a whole, the composite nature of the Eng1ish vocabulary cannt b dnid.

comprehend the nature of the English vocabu1ary and its historical development it is necessary to examine the etymology of its different layers, the historica1 causes of their appearrance, their volume and role and the comparative importance of native and borrowed e1ements in replenishing the Eng1ish vocabulary. Before embarking upon description of the Eng1ish word-stock from this point of view we must make speica1 mention of some terms.

1. In linguistic literature the term native is conventional1y used to denote words of Anglo-Saxon origin brought to the British Isles from the continent in the 5th century b the Gemanic tribes - the Angles, the Saxons and the Jutes. Practically, however, the term is often applied to words whose origin cannot be traced to n other language. Thus, the word path is classified as native just because its origin has not yet been estab1ished with ny degree of certainty. It is possible to conjecture that further progress of linguistic science may throw some light upon its origin and it may prove to have been borrowed at some arlier period. It is for this reason that Prfssr .I.Smirnitsky relying n the earliest manuscripts of the English language available suggested another interpretation of the term ntive - as words which may be presumed to have existed in the Eng1ish word-stock of the 17th century. This interpretation may have somewhat more reliable criteria behind it, but it seems to have the same drawback - both viewpoints present the native element in English as static.

2. The term borrowings is used in linguistics to denote the process of adopting words from their languages and lso the result of this process, the language material itself. It has already been stated that not only words, but lso word-building ffixes were borrowed into English. It must b rnentioned that some word-groups, too, were borrowed in their foreign form.

In its second meaning the term borrowing is sometimes used in wider sense. It is extended onto the so-calld translation-loans(or loan-translations) nd semantic borrowing. Translation-loans words and expressions frmd from the material avai1able in the language after the patterns characteristic of the given language, but under the influence of some foreign words andexpressions(wall newspaper < Russ. ). Semantic borrowing is the appearence of new meaning due to the influence of a related word in another language(the word bureau entered political vocabulary, as Political bureau, under the influence of Russian).

Further on we shall use the turm borrowings in its second meaning, as a borrowing proper or a word taken over in its material form.

Distinction should b made between tu borrowings and words formed out of morphemes borrowed from Latin and Greek, e.g. telephone, phonogram. Such words were never part of Latin and Greek and they do not reflect any contacts with the peoples speaking those languages.

It is of importance to note that the term borrowings belongs to dihrni description of the wrd-stk. Thus the words wine, cheap, pound introduced b the Romans into 11 Germanic dialects long before the Ang1es and the Saxons settled n the British Isles, and such late Latin loans as libi, memorandum, stratum may all be reffered to borrowings from the same language in describing their origin, though in modern Eng1ish they constitute distinctIy different groups of words.

3. There is also a certain confusion between the terms source of borrowings and origin of the word. This confusion may be seen in contradictory marking of one and the same word as, say, French borrowing in n dictionary and Latin borrowing in another. It is suggested here that the term sourceof borrowing should b applied to the language from which thisor that particular word was taken into EngIish. So when describing words as Latin, French or Scandinavian borrowings we point out their source but not their origin. The te1rmorigin of the word should be applied to the language the word m be traced to.

It should be remembered, however, that whereas the immediate source of borrowing is as ru1e known and cn b stated with some certainty, the actual origin of th word mey be rather doubtful. Fo example,the word ink was borrowed frm Old French, but it may be traced back to Latin and stiI1 further to Greek , and it is quite possible that it was borrowed int Greek from the other 1anguage.

The immediate source of borrowing is naturally of greater importencafor language students because it reveals the extra-linguistic factors responsible for the act of borrowing, because the borrowed words bear, as a rule, the imprint of the sound and graphic form, the morphological and semantic structure characteristic of the language they were borrowed from.

1.2 Causes and ways of borrowings

In its 15 century long history recorded in written manuscripts the English language happened to come in long and close contact with several other languages, mainly Latin, French and Old Norse (or Scandinavian). The great influx of borrowings from these sources cn b accounted for by a number of historical causes. Due to the great influence of the Roman ivilixation Latin was for long time used in England as the languge of learning and religion. Old Norse was the language of the conquerors who were n thee same level of socia1 and cultural development and who merged rather easily with the local population in the 9th, 10th and the first hlf of the 11th century. French (to be more exact its Norman dialect) was the language of the other conquerors who brought with them lot of new notions of a higher social system - developed feudalism, it wa the language of upper classes, of official documents and school instruction from the middle of the 11th century to the end of the 14th century.

In the study of the borrowed element in English the main emphasis is as a rule placed n the Midd1e English period. Borrowings of later periods became the object of investigation only in recent years. These investigations have shown that the fIow of of borrowings has been steady and uninterpreted. The greatest number has come from French. They refer to various fields of social-politica1, scientific and cultural life. large porton of borrowings (41 %) is scientific and technical terms.

The number and character of borrowed words tell us of the re1ations between the peoples, the leve1 of their culture, etc. It is for this reason that borrowings have often been called the milestones of history. Thus if we gothrough the lists of borrowings in English and arrange them in groups according to their meaning, we shall be able to obtain much valuable information with regard to Egland's contacts with many nations. Some borrowings, however, cannot be explained by the direct influence of certain historical conditions, they do not come along with any new objects or ideas.

It must be pointed out that whi1e the general historical causes of borrowing from different languages have been studied with considerabl degree of thoroughness the purely linguistic reasons for borrowing r still open to investigation.

The number and character of borrowings do not only depend n the historical conditions, n the nature and length of the contacts, but a1so on the degree of the genetic and stutural proximity of languages ncerned. The closer the languages, the deeper and more versatile is the influence. This largely accounts for the well-marked contrast between the French and the Scandinavian influence on the English language.Thus under the influence of the Scandinavian languages, which were close1y related to Old English;some classes of words were borrowed that could not have been adopted from non-related or distantly related languages.

Borrowings enter the language in two ways: through oral speech (by immediate contact between the peoples)and through written speech (by indirect contact through books, etc.)

Oral borrowing took place chiefly in the early periods of history, whereas in recent times written borrowings gained importance. Words borrowed orally are used short and they undergo a considerable changes in the act of adoption. Written borrowings preserve their spelling and some pecularities of their sound-form, their assimilation is long and laborious process.

1.3 Criteria of borrowings

Though borrowed words undergo changes in the adopting language they preserve some of their former peculiarities for a comparatively long period. This makes it possible to work out some criteria for determining whether the word belongs to the borrowed element.

In some cases the pronunciation of the word (strange sounds, sound combinations, position of stress, etc.), its spelling and the correlation between sounds and letters are an indication of the foreign origin of the word. This is the case with waltz (G.),. psychology (Gr.), souffl (Fr.), etc. The initial position of the sounds [v], [d], [] or of the letters x, j, z is a sure sign that the word has been borrowed, e.g. volcano (It.), vase (Fr.), vaccine (L.), jungle (Hindi), gesture (L.), giant (OFr.), zeal (L.), zero (Fr.), zinc (G.), etc.

The morphological structure of the word and its grammatical forms may also bear witness to the word being adopted from another language. Thus the suffixes in the words neurosis (Gr.) and violoncello (It.) betray the foreign origin of the words. The same is true of the irregular plural forms papyra (from papyrus, Gr.), pastorali (from pastorale, It.), beaux (from beau, Fr.), bacteria, (from bacterium, L.) and the like.

Last but not least is the lexical meaning of the word. Thus the concept denoted by the words ricksha(w), pagoda (Chin.) make us suppose that we deal with borrowings.

These criteria are not always helpful. Some early borrowings have become so thoroughly assimilated that they are unrecognisable without a historical analysis, e.g. chalk, mile (L.), ill, ugly (Scand.), enemy, car (Fr.), etc. It must also be taken into consideration that the closer the relation between the languages, the more difficult it is to distinguish borrowings.

Sometimes the form of the word and its meaning in Modern English enable us to tell the immediate source of borrowing. Thus if the digraph ch is sounded as [?], the word is a late French borrowing (as in echelon, chauffeur, chef); if it stands for [k], it came through Greek (archaic, architect, chronology); if it is pronounced as [t?], it is either an early-borrowing (chase, OFr.; cherry, L., OFr.; chime, L.), or a word of Anglo-Saxon origin (choose, child, chin).

1.4 Classification of borrowings according to the borrowed aspect

There are the following groups: phonetic borrowings, translation loans, semantic borrowings, and morphemic borrowings.

Phonetic borrowings are most characteristic in all languages; they are called loan words proper. Words are borrowed with their spelling, pronunciation and meaning. Then they undergo assimilation, each sound in the borrowed word is substituted by the corresponding sound of the borrowing language. In some cases the spelling is changed. The structure of the word can also be changed. The position of the stress is very often influenced by the phonetic system of the borrowing language. The paradigm of the word, and sometimes the meaning of the borrowed word are also changed. Such words as: labour, travel, table, chair, people are phonetic borrowings from French; apparatchik, nomenklatura, sputnik are phonetic borrowings from Russian; bank, soprano, duet are phonetic borrowings from Italian etc.

Translation loans are word-for-word (or morpheme-for-morpheme) translations of some foreign words or expressions. In such cases the notion is borrowed from a foreign language but it is expressed by native lexical units, to take the bull by the horns (Latin), fair sex (French), living space (German) etc. Some translation loans appeared in English from Latin already in the Old English period, e.g. Sunday (solis dies). There are translation loans from the languages of Indians, such as: pipe of peace, pale-faced, from German masterpiece, homesickness, superman.

Semantic borrowings are such units when a new meaning of the unit existing in the language is borrowed. It can happen when we have two relative languages which have common words with different meanings, e.g. there are semantic borrowings between Scandinavian and English, such as the meaning to live for the word to dwell' which in Old English had the meaning to wander. Or else the meaning , for the word gift which in Old English had the meaning .

Semantic borrowing can appear when an English word was borrowed into some other language, developed there a new meaning and this new meaning was borrowed back into English, e.g. brigade was borrowed into Russian and formed the meaning a working collective, . This meaning was borrowed back into English as a Russian borrowing. The same is true of the English word pioneer.

Morphemic borrowings are borrowings of affixes which occur in the language when many words with identical affixes are borrowed from one language into another, so that the morphemic structure of borrowed words becomes familiar to the people speaking the borrowing language, e.g. we can find a lot of Romanic affixes in the English word-building system, that is why there are a lot of words - hybrids in English where different morphemes have different origin, e.g. goddess, beautiful etc.

1.5 Assimilation of borrowings

It is now essential to analyse the changes that borrowings have undergone in the English language and how they have adapted themselves to its peculiarities.

All the changes that borrowed elements undergo may be divided into two large groups.

On the one hand there are changes specific of borrowed words only. These changes aim at adapting words of foreign origin to the norms of the borrowing language, e.g. the consonant combinations [pn], [ps], [pt] in the words pneumatics, psychology, Ptolemy of Greek origin were simplified into [n], [s], [t], since the consonant combinations [ps], [pt], [pn], very frequent at the end of English words (as in sleeps, stopped, etc.), were never used in the initial position. For the same reason the initial [ks] was changed into [z] (as in Gr. xylophone).

The suffixes -ar, -or, -ator in early Latin borrowings were replaced by the highly productive Old English suffix -ere, as in L. Caesar>OE. Casere, L. sutor>OE. stere.

By analogy with the great majority of nouns that form their plural in -s, borrowings, even very recent ones, have assumed this inflection instead of their original plural endings. The forms Soviets, bolsheviks, kolkhozes, sputniks illustrate the process.

On the other hand we observe changes that are characteristic of both borrowed and native words. These changes are due to the development of the word according to the laws of the given language. When the highly inflected Old English system of declension changed into the simpler system of Middle English, early borrowings conformed with the general rule. Under the influence of the so-called inflexional levelling borrowings like lu, (MnE. law), flaza (MnE. fellow), strt (MnE. street), disc (MnE. dish) that had a number of grammatical forms in Old English acquired only three forms in Middle English: common case and possessive case singular and plural (fellow, fellowes, fellowes).

It is very important to discriminate between the two processes -- the adaptation of borrowed material to the norms of the language and the development of these words according to the laws of the language.

This differentiation is not always easily discernible. In most cases we must resort to historical analysis before we can draw any definite conclusions. There is nothing in the form of the words procession and, progression to show that the former was already used in England in the 11th century, the latter not till the 15th century. The history of these words reveals that the word procession has undergone a number of changes alongside with other English words (change in declension, accentuation, structure, sounds), whereas the word progression underwent some changes by analogy with the word procession and other similar words already at the time of its appearance in the language.

1.5.1 Phonetic assimilation

Phonetic assimilation comprising changes in sound-form and stress is perhaps the most conspicuous.

Sounds that were alien to the English language were fitted into its scheme of sounds. For instance, the long [e] and [] in recent French borrowings, alien to English speech, are rendered with the help of [ei] (as in the words communiqu, chausse, caf).

Familiar sounds or sound combinations the position of which was strange to the English language, were replaced by other sounds or sound combinations to make the words conform to the norms of the language, e.g. German spitz [?pits] was turned into English [spits]. Substitution of native sounds for foreign ones usually takes place in the very act of borrowing. But some words retain their foreign pronunciation for a long time before the unfamiliar sounds are replaced by similar native sounds.

Even when a borrowed word seems at first sight to be identical in form with its immediate etymon as OE. skill < Scand. skil; OE. scinn < < Scand. skinn; OE. ran < Scand. ran the phonetic structure of the word undergoes some changes, since every language as well as every period in the history of a language is characterised by its own peculiarities in the articulation of sounds.

In words that were added to English from foreign sources, especially from French or Latin, the accent was gradually transferred to the first syllable. Thus words like honour, reason were accented on the same principle as the native father, mother.

1.5.2 Grammatical assimilation

Grammatical Assimilation. Usually as soon as words from other languages were introduced into English they lost their former grammatical categories and paradigms and acquired hew grammatical categories and paradigms by analogy with other English words, as in

. Com. sing. Sputnik

. Poss. sing. Sputnik's

. Com. pl. Sputniks

. Poss. pl. Sputniks'



However, there are some words in Modern English that have for centuries retained their foreign inflexions. Thus a considerable group of borrowed nouns, all of them terms or literary words adopted in the 16th century or later, have preserved their original plural inflexion to this day, e.g. phenomenon (L.) -- phenomena; addendum (L.) -- addenda; parenthesis (Gr.) -- parentheses. Other borrowings of the same period have two plural forms -- the native and the foreign, e.g. vacuum (L.) -- vacua, vacuums, virtuoso (It.) -- virtuosi, virtuosos.

All borrowings that were composite in structure in their native language appeared in English as indivisible simple words, unless there were already words with the same morphemes in it, e.g. in the word saunter the French infinitive inflexion -er is retained (cf. OFr. s'aunter), but it has changed its quality, it is preserved in all the other grammatical forms of the word (cf. saunters, sauntered, sauntering), which means that it has become part of the stem in English.

The French reflexive pronoun s- has become fixed as an inseparable element of the word. The former Italian diminishing suffixes -etto, -otta, -ello(a), -cello in the words ballot, stiletto, umbrella cannot be distinguished without special historical analysis, unless one knows the Italian language.

The composite nature of the word portfolio is not seen either (cf. It. portafogli < porta -- imperative of `carry' + fogli -- 'sheets of paper'). This loss of morphological seams in borrowings may be termed simplification by analogy with a similar process in native words.1It must be borne in mind that when there appears in a language a group of borrowed words built on the same pattern or containing the same morphemes, the morphological structure of the words becomes apparent and in the course of time their word-building elements can be employed to form new words.

Thus the word bolshevik was at first indivisible in English, which is seen from the forms bolshevikism, bolshevikise, bolshevikian entered by some dictionaries. Later on the word came to be divided into the morphological elements bolshev-ik. The new morphological division can be accounted for by the existence of a number of words containing these elements (bolshevism, bolshevist, bolshevise; sputnik, udarnik, menshevik).

Sometimes in borrowed words foreign affixes are replaced by those available in the English language, e.g. the inflexion -us in Latin adjectives was replaced in English with the suffixes -ous or -al: L. barbarus > > E. barbarous; L. botanicus > E. botanical; L. balneus > E. balneal.

1.5.3 Lexical assimilation

Lexical Assimilation. When a word is taken over into another language, its semantic structure as a rule undergoes great changes.

Polysemantic words are usually adopted only in one or two of their meanings. Thus the word timbre that had a number of meanings in French was borrowed into English as a musical term only. The words cargo and cask, highly polysemantic in Spanish, were adopted only in one of their meanings -- `the goods carried in a ship', `a barrel for holding liquids' respectively.

* In some cases we can observe specialisation of meaning, as in the word hangar, denoting a building in which aeroplanes are kept (in French

it meant simply 'shed') and revue, which had the meaning of `review' in French and came to denote a kind of theatrical entertainment in English.

In the process of its historical development a borrowing sometimes acquired new meanings that were not to be found in its former semantic structure. For instance, the verb move in Modern English has developed the meanings of `propose', `change one's flat', `mix with people' and others that the French mouvoir does not possess. The word scope, which originally had the meaning of `aim, purpose', now means `ability to understand', `the field within which an activity takes place, sphere', `opportunity, freedom of action'. As a rule the development of new meanings takes place 50 -- 100 years after the word is borrowed.

The semantic structure of borrowings changes in other ways as well. Some meanings become more general, others more specialised, etc. For instance, the word terrorist, that was taken over from French in the meaning of `Jacobin', widened its meaning to `one who governs, or opposes a government by violent means'. The word umbrella, borrowed in the meaning of a 'sunshade' or `parasol' (from It. ombrella <ombra -- 'shade) came to denote similar protection from the rain as well.

Usually the primary meaning of a borrowed word is retained throughout its history, but sometimes it becomes a secondary meaning. Thus the Scandinavian borrowings wing, root, take and many others have retained their primary meanings to the present day, whereas in the OE. folaze (MnE. fellow) which was borrowed from the same source in the meaning of `comrade, companion', the primary meaning has receded to the background and was replaced by the meaning that appeared in New English `a man or a boy'.

Sometimes change of meaning is the result of associating borrowed words with familiar words which somewhat resemble them in sound but which are not at all related. This process, which is termed folk etymology, often changes the form of the word in whole or in part, so as to bring it nearer to the word or words with which it is thought to be connected, e.g. the French verb sur(o)under had the meaning of `overflow'. In English -r(o)under was associated by mistake with round -- and the verb was interpreted as meaning `enclose on all sides, encircle' (MnE. surround). Old French estandard (L. estendere -- `to spread') had the meaning of `a flag, banner'. In English the first part was wrongly associated with the verb stand and the word standard also acquired the meaning of 'something stable, officially accepted'.

Folk-etymologisation is a slow process; people first attempt to give the foreign borrowing its foreign pronunciation, but gradually popular use evolves a new pronunciation and spelling.

English classification grammatical lexica

Chapter II. Historical contact in English with other languages of the world

2.1 Russian Loan Words in English

All Russian borrowings chosen from dictionaries are nouns. Totally 59 nouns will be analyzed in this chapter and they are the following words: agitprop, babushka, balalaika, blin, Bolshevik, borzoi, boyar, bridge, chernozem, Comintern, crash, dacha, droshky, Doukhobor, galyak, glasnost, gley, gulag, Kalashnikov, kasha, kefir, kolynsky, kolkhoz, Komsomol, kopeck, kvass, Leninism, mammoth, Menshevik, muzhik, oblast, paulownia, perestroika, piroshki, podzol, politburo, polynia, pood, ruble, samarskite, samisdat, samovar, Samoyed, sastruga, seecatch, sierozem, soviet, sovkhoz, sputnik, starets, stishovite, sterlet, taiga, theremin, tovarich, troika, verst, vodka, zemstvo.

Main Entry: agitprop Function: noun. Etymology: Russian, from agitatsiya agitation + propaganda. Date: 1935: PROPAGANDA; especially: political propaganda promulgated chiefly in literature, drama, music, or art. agitprop adjective (Merriam-Webster, Ex.:

The greater perversion of capitalist consumption, according to Veblen, was its willingness to waste - a tendency captured in Soviet agitprop as `Western decadence.' (Neil,

Main Entry: babushka Function: noun Etymology: `Russian grandmother', diminutive of baba old woman. Date: 1938. 1 a: `a usually triangularly folded kerchief for the head' b: `a head covering resembling a babushka'; 2: an elderly Russian woman (Merriam-Webster, Ex.:

How to Tie a Scarf -Babushka. (Goltz,

a wonderful, smiling Russian babushka (grandmother) appeared in my doorway with a steaming bowl of Pokhelbka(Black,

Main Entry: balalaika Function: noun. Etymology: Russian. Date: 1788: a usually 3-stringed instrument of Russian origin with a triangular body played by plucking or strumming (Merriam-Webster, Ex.:

The varied family of Central Asian lutes is a large one, and one of the most popular and best known is the balalaika, with its unique triangular body shape


Main Entry: blin Function: noun. Inflected Form(s): plural blini or blinis. Etymology: Russian. Date: 1888: a thin often buckwheat pancake usually filled (as with sour cream) and folded (Merriam-Webster, Ex.:

When the guests arrived, we served them caviar on buckwheat blini, those tiny little pancakes


Main Entry: Bolshevik Function: noun. Inflected Form(s): plural Bolsheviks also Bolsheviki. Etymology: Russian bol'shevik, from bol'shii greater. Date: 1917. 1: a member of the extremist wing of the Russian Social Democratic party that seized power in Russia by the Revolution of November 1917: 2: COM-MUNIST. Bolshevik adjective (Merriam- Webster, Ex.:

Would the Bolsheviks of 1917 act any differently? (Kreis,

CanadianBolsheviks. (Angus,

Main Entry: borzoi Function: noun. Etymology: Russian borzoi, from borzoi `swift'.Date: 1887: `any of a breed of large long-haired dogs of greyhound type developed in Russia especially for pursuing wolves' - called also Russian wolfhound (Merriam- Webster, Ex.:

to realize that they are dogs, too...accidents could happen when a Borzoi or even a pack of them chases a fast moving object under the full urge to hunt it down(Ruoff,

Main Entry: boyar Variant(s): also boyard. Function: noun. Etymology: Russian boyarin. Date: 1591: `a member of a Russian aristocratic order next in rank below the ruling princes until its abolition by Peter the Great' (Merriam- Webster, Ex.:

On the other hand, the boyars and the lesser members of the ruling class were clearly not vassals of the princes. (Rempel,

bridge NOUN: `Any of several card games derived from whist, usually played by four people in two partnerships, in which trump is determined by bidding and the hand opposite the declarer is played as a dummy.' ETYMOLOGY: From earlier biritch (influenced by bridge1), from Russian birich, a call, from Old Russian birich. (The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language). http:-// Ex.:

Gates, a bridge fanatic who frequently plays the game online(Ewalt,

Main Entry: chernozem Function: noun. Etymology: Russian, from chrnyi `black ` + zemlya `earth'.Date: 1841: `any of a group of dark-coloured zonal soils with a deep rich humus horizon found in regions (as the grasslands of central No. America) of temperate to cool climate' - chernozemic adjective (Merriam- Webster, Ex.:

The lower limit of the optimal soil moisture on Chernozem for potato is 75-80% of field water capacity (FWC) (Bosjak, Pejic,

Main Entry: Comintern Function: noun. Etymology: Russian Komintern, from Kommunisticheskii Internatsional Communist International. Date: 1923: the Communist International was established in 1919 and dissolved in 1943 (Mer-riam-Webster, Ex.:

The 2nd world congress adopted a list of 21 conditions to determine the admission of parties to the Comintern (Sheehan,

Main Entry: crash Function: noun. Etymology: probably from Russian krashe-nina `coloured linen'. Date: 1812: `a coarse fabric used for draperies, towelling, and clothing and for strengthening joints of cased-in books' (Merriam- Webster, Ex.:Verdugo linen crash for summer suits(Kiplinger,

Apart from the words analyzed above, English has also borrowed from Russian a variety of words, which originate from other languages. Because of the restricted character of this work it is impossible to analyze them scrupulously and therefore we will classify them only in accordance with their initial sources.

Words of Turkish origin: archine, ataman, buran, caftan, cossak, coumiss, kurgan, saiga, shashlik.

Words of Latin origin: collegium, comissar, comissariat, czar, intelligentsia, nomenclatura, presidium. English has also borrowed some derivatives of the word czar: czarevitch, czarevna, czarina; czaritza. The Russian word cezarevitch borrowed into English originates from the same word as czar- namely from the Latin word caesar.

Words of German origin: duma, kremlin ( the latter is from obsolete German).

Furthermore, the word knout is of Scandinavian origin, suprematism - of French, cosmonaut -of Greek; sevruga is a Tatar word, shaman is borrowed from Tungus and pika- from Evenki, tundra is a Lappish word. Finally bidarka is of Siberian origin.

Among the above-mentioned words there are both proper nouns and common nouns. Proper nouns are the following: Bolshevik, Comintern, Doukhobor, Komsomol, Leninism, Menshevik and Samoyed. All other words are common nouns.

Moreover, among common nouns there are words that are derived from personal names : Kalashnikov, paulownia, samarskite, stishovite and theremin.

For instance, Kalashnikov is the name of an assault rifle. This word is derived from the name of Michail Timofeevich Kalashnikov (born 1919), Soviet arms engineer. Paulownia is a tree name and it originates from the name of the Russian princess Anna Pavlovna who died in 1865. Rare-earth metals with niobium and tantalum oxide are called samarskite after Col. M. von Samarski, a 19th-century Russian mining official. The lexeme stishovite denotes `a dense tetragonal polymorph of quartz that is formed under great pressure and is often associated with meteoroid impact'. Stishovite originates from the name of Sergei Mikhailovich Stishov (born 1937), a Russian mineralogist. An electronic musical instrument is called theremin after Lev Theremin born 1896 Russian engineer & inventor.

2.2 French Loan Words in the modern English Language

English is a Germanic Language of the Indo-European Family. It is the second most spoken language in the world.

It is estimated that there are 300 million native speakers and 300 million who use English as a second language and a further 100 million use it as a foreign language. It is the language of science, aviation, computing, diplomacy, and tourism. It is listed as the official or co-official language of over 45 countries and is spoken extensively in other countries where it has no official status.

English contains many words from Norman French, brought to England during the 11th century Norman Conquest.

In 1066 the Normans conquered Britain. French became the language of the Norman aristocracy and added more vocabulary to English. More pairs of similar words arose.

Table 1. French-English bilinguism




















wrath / anger

Because the English underclass cooked for the Norman upper class, the words for most domestic animals are English (ox, cow, calf, sheep, swine, deer) while the words for the meats derived from them are French (beef, veal, mutton, pork, bacon, venison).

The Germanic form of plurals (house, housen; shoe, shoen) was eventually displaced by the French method of making plurals: adding an s (house, houses; shoe, shoes). Only a few words have retained their Germanic plurals: men, oxen, feet, teeth, children.

Modern English began around the 16th Century and, like all languages, is still changing. One change occurred when the suffix of some verb forms became s (loveth, loves; hath, has). Auxiliary verbs also changed (he is risen, he has risen).

Norman French is the 11th century language of France and England. It is an Indo-European language.

In 1066, the Norman king, William the Conqueror, invaded England. Many Norman French words entered the language after this. In general, the Normans were the nobility, while the native English were their servants. The names of domestic animals and their meats show this relationship. The animal name is English ("cow", "sheep", "pig") while the names of the meats derived from these animals is French ("beef", "mutton", "pork").


Many words have been borrowed from Norman French. These can be grouped into several types:

legal terms ("adultery", "slander"),

military words ("surrender", "occupy"),

names of meats ("bacon", "venison"),

words from the royal court ("chivalry", "majesty").

the non-metric unit of volume (the "gallon") is Norman French. There are many other words.

The Normans introduced the QU spelling for words containing KW ("question").

Aside from borrowing and word formation, French considerably influenced English phrasing. The loan translations range from polite turns of speech, such as at your service, do me the favour, to engage somebody in a quarrel, to make (later: pay) a visit, to idiomatic phrases like by occasion, in detail, in favour of, in the last resort, in particular, to the contrary.

2.3 German Loan Words in English


Now, while there are many words that have entered English directly from German, there are also many words that simply didn't. English and German are in the same Germanic language family, so the two languages share many words in common but did not receive one from the other. In fact, oftentimes two words will be derived from the same root but mean completely different things in the respective languages. This is known as a false cognate. A great example of this is pickle, which is a tasty thing to garnish a burger with in English but is a pimple in German. Another is the word gift: something you give to another in friendship in English, but poison in German!

If there are false cognates, then there must also be true cognates. These are words that share the same meaning and (mostly) the same spelling between two languages, here German and English. These can be derived from a variety of sources: from the explosion of Denglisch and the Anglicization of German, or the reverse, the integration of German into English. The latter category of cognates are known as loan words, from German to English, and they will be the subject of the remainder of this article.

Admittedly, there is usually some small difference in connotation between the German version of the word and the English. It's a sliding scale between a true cognate and false one, with shades of meaning in between. The choice of words here reflect the former category more, and any differences that exist are noted.

The cause? Often, it's simply because no English word exists with exactly the same meanings and connotations that a writer or translator wishes to express, so they simply leave the word be. Add in popular and/or fashionable use of the word, and it enters everyday use in the English language.

Example Loanwords

Angst. Fear. This has developed very powerful connotations from its use in Germanic philosophy to describe a soul-deep sense of fear about the self. However, it's also used somewhat satirically to describe the often ridiculous emotional turmoil within teenagers, teenage angst.

Ansatz. More used in academic English than in colloquial, this word has been borrowed to describe the beginning or onset of an event or idea.

Blitzkrieg. History nuts will know this one well: literally lightning war, in particular with reference to the rapid-fire strategy of the Germans during WWII as they marched steadily across Western Europe. In English, it is also used generally to refer to any fast strategy, either in business or in war.

Bratwurst. A staple of every American barbecue.

Delikatessen. Often slightly Anglicized to Delicatessen, this refers to a shop that sells delicious, tasty things. Spy the essen in there, to eat?

Doppelgnger. Used to describe a look-alike of somebody, often in a sinister sense.

Ersatz. This adjective is used to refer to a mediocre imitation or substitution of the real thing, whatever that may be.

Fest. Like a party, only a festival!

Firn. A mountaineering term to refer to snow from previous seasons, often exposed in the fierce heat of summer as last winter's snow melts away.

Frankfurter. An item of delicious food, which, like the bratwurst, is a staple of American barbecues.

Gestalt. This term has been borrowed particularly in the fields of psychology and philosophy to refer to a single whole concept created by a collection of individual concepts. It's a bit tricky to translate this into English; hence, its direct borrowing from German.

Glockenspiel. A musical instrument where metal bars are struck with a mallet to produce sound.

Hamburger. Another food popularly considered American, even if does take its name directly from a German city.

Hinterland. A favorite word of journalists and poets to describe the backwoods and interior of a given country, usually with reference to its lack of development.

Kaputt. Broken! Usually spelled with a single t in English, kaput.

Kindergarten. Literally children garden, a place for children to start in on their education while still playing around.

Meister. A master of some skill. Often used comically in English.

Poltergeist. Any kind of noisy, disruptive ghost. An excellent pop culture example in English would be Peeves the Poltergeist from the Harry Potter books.

Check out the next page for more example German loanwords and a few potential resources for more.

2.4 Loanwords from Latin

The English language has borrowed extensively from the Latin language beginning during the Germanic period before English was English through the Old English period and up to the early Modern English period. The earliest Latin loanwords date from the period before the Germanic tribes invaded England under invite from the Britons. Latin borrowings continued throughout the Old English period. English again borrowed heavily from Latin during the Early Modern period during which many scholars imported many Latin loanwords. Although English is a Germanic language, many common and everyday words are of Latin origin.

List of Latin Loanwords

With all the loanwords borrowed from Latin into English, an exhaustive list would be too lengthy to be possible. The following are some of the commonly used Latin loanwords in English:














































tabula rasa







2.5 Loanwords from Greek

The English language has borrowed extensively from the Greek language beginning during the Germanic period when many words borrowed from Latin were originally borrowed into Latin from Greek. English continued to borrow from Greek through Latin during the Old English period. However, most of the Greek loanwords in English were borrowed during the Early Modern English period by scholars, scientists, writers, and other highly educated English speakers. Thus, although English is a Germanic language, many common and everyday words as well as the vocabulary of specialized domains such as science including linguistics are of Greek origin.

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