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Free English Language Loan Words Essay Sample

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Communication is the transmission of a message from one party to another. Communication takes several forms: It may be written, spoken, verbal or non verbal. Language as a tool for communication assists in transmission of messages as long as the parties involved can understand one another. There are thousands of languages in the world and these languages possess particular words which specify and deliver the messages accurately to the recipients. Most languages have not been fully developed and this has led to the evolvement of loan words. Loan words are words that are used in a particular language but are originally borrowed from other languages. In the same manner the language for international communication "English" has large amounts of loan words which have a similar origin but sometimes have different meanings when used in a different context.

Although English appears to be the most ancient, at the same time, most modern language of the world, it has borrowed hundreds and thousands of words from other languages and those words are now part of English language and also part of our communication. The major part of the loan words is borrowed from the Latin, French and German language. The percentage of each language's borrowed words is 29% Latin language words, 29% French language words, 26% Germanic language words and 16% other language words. Therefore, we can say that English language has evolved with the passage of time and inducted or borrowed a major amount of its vocabulary from the three languages as identified above.


A research conducted in 1973 showed that English language had borrowed 80,000 words from different languages. This shows that English has been extraordinarily inducted or borrowed words from other languages into the native English language. After a critical study  and consideration it have been recognized that English language is one of the largest borrowers of words from other  languages. 

History of English loan words

The question that researchers have asked themselves over the years is how and why the English language has had to borrow all these words from other languages yet the native English speakers were content with their original language. Several factors have been found to contribute immensely to the large number of loan words in the English language. The most important have been identified to be: the existence of other languages in the British native land, the expansive invasion activity by the Britain in the whole world and the French influence on English language. Another aspect is the cultural openness of the British to borrow the words from other languages which can also be called the civilized approach towards the transformation of British language. The modern global importance of borrowing the words from one another is important since such words can be used to interlink societies.

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The circumstances and the need for loan words:

Researchers of the history of loan words in the English language have observed that cultural influences have made it possible to loan the words from other language. Another reason for the increased number of loan words is the global approach of the speakers of English language and natives of the English speaking countries. These two aspects have been found to be the most influential to the need for loan words from other languages.

First, the cultural influences can be described as the wide spread invasion activities by Britain throughout the world. During such invasions, the British found the need to learn languages of the foreign countries that they invaded and these words were later assimilated into the English language. Sometimes, the British had to form peace treaties with the countries that they colonized and such treaties were only possible if the two parties could understand one another. This lead to the British having to borrow most of the words from their colonies.

The second aspect of borrowing the large number of words would be the global approach in the international language. The influence of the English language at the global front has made loaning of words into the English language very necessary. Here we can categorize the influence with the help of percentage we have for the different languages. Statistics show that, the percentage of each language borrowed words is 29% Latin words, 29% French words, 26% German words and 16% are others.

Hereinafter, both have played concrete role to initiate that much borrowing of words. The eighty thousand words are not an ordinary borrowing but its likely to be the largest borrowing ever. However, in one aspect this borrowing helps the English language as an international language but also it helps to join the multicultural specifications and words approaches into one language.

Words borrowed from other languages:

There is an unending list of borrowed words by the English language from other languages. This study only discusses a few of the languages that the British borrowed words from .The major word lenders are discussed below

The period between 1500 to 1650 was the era of literature and learning. Most of the English scholars came to be known at this particular period. Therefore, the words borrowed by the English men dates back to this period when there was a lot of interest in the Latin literature and linguistics. Some of the words that were borrowed from the Latin language include but not limited to: agile, abdomen, anatomy, area, capsule, compensate, dexterity, discus, disc/disk, excavate, expensive, fictitious, gradual, habitual, insane, janitor, meditate, notorious, orbit, peninsula, physician, superintendent, ultimate, vindicate among many others. (Kemmer, 2009).The borrowing trend still continued even after 1650.

In and after 1650 French had become the largest  source of new words which were innovative, logical as well as modern. The industrial revolution had put an impact on the borrowing of the French words. Since the French were amongst the first industrialized nations, borrowing of words from them was very necessary. Some of the words that were borrowed from the French language include: ballet, bouillabaise, cabernet, cachet, chaise longue, champagne, chic, cognac, corsage, faux pas, nom de plume, quiche, rouge, roulet, sachet, salon, saloon, sang froid, savoir faire, bastion, brigade, battalion, cavalry, grenade, infantry, pallisade, rebuff, bayonet, bigot, chassis, clique, denim, garage,  grotesque, jean(s), niche, shock" (Kemmer, 2009).

Just like the other two languages, there are a number of words that were borrowed from the German language. Most of the German words are adapted into the English language in such away that their original meanings are no longer readily recognized by indigenous German speakers due to the new circumstances in which they were being used in English. The ancient loan words from the German language are "bum, dunk, feldspar, quartz, hex, lager, knackwurst, liverwurst, loafer, noodle, poodle, dachshund, pretzel, pinochle, pumpernickel, sauerkraut, schnitzel, zwieback, (beer) stein, lederhosen, and dirndl." The twentieth century German loan words are "blitzkrieg, zeppelin, strafe, U-boat, delicatessen, hamburger, frankfurter, wiener, hausfrau, kindergarten, Oktoberfest, schuss, wunderkind, bundt (cake), spritz (cookies), (apple) strudel." (Kemmer, 2009).

Field research and results:

After a comprehensive research on English language's loan words, results indicate that we can confidently conclude that the English language has borrowed a wide range of words from different languages. Each borrowed word has its own distinctiveness and background, even though; it has partially the same meaning with words from the language of origin. The cultural and global influences are quite obvious with the reference to historic background.

The above discussion clearly explains the history and the extent to which the English have borrowed words from other languages. In modern times we do not bother to understand the history of our languages since we believe that language is only important for communication purposes but this study clearly illustrates that apart from the communication relevance of language, the in depth study of the history of loan words also tells us the cultural as well as economic influences on the language. With the significant number of loan words, English is easily understood by most people in the world and thus has a multicultural and global touch making it an international language.

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