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How foreign languages mutate English words

Posted: Thu Apr 11, 2013 9:14 am
by Erik_Kowal
"In Japan, baseball is beisuboru. In China, microphone is maikefeng. And in Germany, cell phone is Handy".

These examples of words that have been transformed (sometimes almost beyond recognition) by other languages, as well as numerous others, are discussed in an article by James Harbeck which is published today in The Week.

The examples Harbeck gives are more plentiful than one might expect from a general-interest article, having been readily drawn from the World Loanword Database.

It is a commonplace that English is a vast storehouse of words borrowed and adapted from other languages. Anyone who is curious to glimpse this process in reverse could do worse than to click on either of the above links.

Re: How foreign languages mutate English words

Posted: Thu Apr 11, 2013 2:04 pm
by zmjezhd
My favorite English-to-German loanword is "beamer" for video projector.

Re: How foreign languages mutate English words

Posted: Thu Apr 11, 2013 4:29 pm
by Erik_Kowal
You may already know that in the UK, 'beamer' is also a colloquial term for a BMW car -- in other words, the product of a German manufacturer...

Re: How foreign languages mutate English words

Posted: Thu Apr 11, 2013 6:45 pm
by Edwin F Ashworth
Scotty was a famous beamer.

Re: How foreign languages mutate English words

Posted: Fri Apr 12, 2013 8:15 am
by Wizard of Oz
.. to beam or not to beam perchance to stay in the buffer .. to misquote Scotty ..

WoZ the Borg who failed

Re: How foreign languages mutate English words

Posted: Fri Apr 12, 2013 12:46 pm
by zmjezhd
You may already know that in the UK, 'beamer' is also a colloquial term for a BMW car.

Same here in the States, Erik. When I first heard "beamer" used (in the wild), I explained this meaning in English and my German friends werre shocked.

Re: How foreign languages mutate English words

Posted: Sun Apr 14, 2013 5:42 pm
by hsargent
I did a search. I don't know all of these words but I included all. The most amazing to me is the origin of "Yankee".

INDIAN ORIGIN Bungalow, Cheetah, Dacoit, Guru, Jungle, Khaki, Loot, Pundit, Pyjama, Thug

ARABIAN ORIGIN Algebra Assassin Harem Mattress Safari Sofa Sultan Sherbet Tariff Zero

CHINESE ORIGIN Chi Chow Feng Shui Gung Ho Ketchup Kung Fu Lychee Silk Tea Tofu

AFRICAN ORIGIN Banana Chimpanzee Cola Dengue Jamboree Jumbo Mumbo Jumbo Voodoo Zebra Zombie

SPANISH ORIGIN Adios Cigar Guerrilla Hurricane Lolita Macho Platinum Ranch Siesta Vanilla

ITALIAN ORIGIN Artisan Balcony Cartoon Dome Gallery Graffiti Medal Replica Saloon Villa

GERMAN ORIGIN Blitz Frankfurter Hamburger Kaput Kitsch Kindergarten Lager Pilsner Wanderlust Zeitgeist

DUTCH ORIGIN Booze Cookie Cruise Decoy Excise Iceberg Measles Smuggler Yacht Yankee

PORTUGESE ORIGIN Breeze Cashew Cobra Coconut Commando Mosquito Potato Samba Tank Teak