FOREIGN WORDS IN
ENGLISH
by Don L. F. Nilsen
(based on Marckwardt and Dillard’s
American English NY: Oxford Univ
Press, 1980)
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SPAIN, FRANCE, ITALY
AND PORTUGAL (Parra Guinaldo 4)
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INDO-EUROPEAN LANGUAGES
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Indo-Iranian:
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Slavic:
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Breton, Irish, Scots Gaelic, Welsh
Romance:
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Latvian, Lithuanian
Celtic:
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Bulgarian, Czech, Macedonian, Polish, Russian, Serbo-Croatian, Slovak,
Slovenian, Ukranian
Baltic:

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Bengali, Farsi, Hindi, Kurdish, Pashto, Punjabi, Urdu
Catalan, French, Italian, Portuguese, Provençal, Spanish, Romanian
Germanic:

Africans, Danish, Dutch, English, Frisian, German, Icelandic, Norwegian,
Swedish, Yiddish
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(Fromkin, Rodman and Hyams 529)
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AFRICAN WORDS
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goober
gumbo
hepcat
jazz
voodoo
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NATIVE AMERICAN WORDS
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Chicago (Algonquian: Onion Field)
mackinaw (Algonquian milikamakinak big turtle in water)
mugwump (American: fence straddler)
racoon (Algonquian: rufkufskoom
squash (Algonquian askutaskuash)
wampum (Algonquian: money)
woodchuck (Algonquian: ortchuk; NOTE: folk etymology)
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CHINESE WORDS
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Chi (qi)
chow mein
chop suey
Dao (tao)
Goji (berry)
I ching
Kowtow
Kung fu
Tofu
Typhoon
no can do.
Long time no see. (pidgin English from early Chinese
workers on the railroad)
 (Jean Arnold from Xi’an, China, gave me most of these)
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DUTCH WORDS
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cole slaw (Dutch: cabbage salad)
Pennsylvania Dutch (Greek sylvan,
German: Deutsch)
poppycock (Dutch: soft dung)
Yankee (Dutch: Jan [John] kees [cheesel]
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ENGLISH WORDS THAT HAVE CHANGED 1
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Azusa (American A-Z in the USA)
bootlegger (American liquor smuggler)
cold shoulder (English: unwarmed meal)
gerrymander (English: Eldridge Gerry +
Salamander)
lumber (English: trash)
saw buck (Latin: Roman Numeral X)
slapstick (English: stick for making noise)
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ENGLISH WORDS THAT HAVE CHANGED 2
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soap opera (English: "opera" sponsored by
soaps)
stereotype (English: type cast in lead for printing
press)
walrus (English: whale + ros [horse])
wetback (English: swimmer of Rio Grande)
zounds (English: God's wounds)
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FRENCH WORDS 1
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castle/chateau (French)
depot (French, cf. deposit)
dime (French: dixieme)
gopher (French: gauphre: honeycomb)
hotel/hostel (French)
levee (French: elevated)
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FRENCH WORDS 2
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parlay (French: to talk)
porter (French: to carry)
porpoise (French: porc + poisson)
puny (French: puis + ne)
saloon (French: salon)
voyageur (French)
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Canadian Jack & Jacques arguing:
English or French is better!
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GERMAN WORDS
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blitzkrieg (German: lightning war)
delicatessen (German)
festschrift (German: festival of writing)
frankfurter (German: something from Frankfurt)
hamburger (German: something from Hamburgh)
kindergarten (German)
wiener/wienie/Viener Schnitzel/Vienna Sausage (German:
something from Wien Vienna)
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GREEK WORDS
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janitor (Greek: Janus)
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Pennsylvania Dutch (Greek sylvan,
German: Deutsch)
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Philadelphia (Greek: love + brother)
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HAWAIIAN WORDS
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hula
wahine
lei
aloha
poi
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two-finger poi is thick
five-finger poi is thin
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ITALIAN WORDS
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accelerando
andante
fortissimo
linguini, vermicelli, tortelini
pizza
presto
zany (Italian: servants)
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SPANISH PAST PARTICIPLES
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coronado (Spanish: crowned)
desparado (Spanish: disapeared)
enchilada (Spanish: enchiliated)
hoosegow (Spanish: juzgado judged)
incommunicado (Spanish)
pinto (Spanish pintado)
Sierra Nevada (Spanish: saw + snowed)
tornado (Spanish)
tostado (Spanish)
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Spanish present participle
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hacienda (Spanish: doing/making)
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SPANISH DIMINUTIVES AND
AUGMENTATIVES!
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armadillo (Spanish: little armored thing)
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mosquita (Spanish: small fly)
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tortilla (Spanish)
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machismo/macho (Spanish) (cf. Italian “pianissimo,”
“fortissimo” and “Generalissimo”
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OTHER SPANISH WORDS!!
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buckaroo (Spanish Vaquero)
cafeteria (Arabic or Spanish)
Chicano (Spanish: Mexicano)
cockroach (Spanish)
marijuana (Spanish)
sombrero (Spanish: "sombra" shade hat)
ten gallon hat (Spanish galeon an ornament)
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YIDDISH & OTHER LANGUAGES

Yiddish is influenced by Aramaic, Hebrew,
Latin, French, Italian, Polish, Ukrainian,
White Russian, Slavic, but it is 75 %
German (Weinstein 20).
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YIDDISH & HEBREW
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Hebrew accounts for 15 % to 20 % of Yiddish,
but despite the shared alphabet, common words,
and right-to-left transcription, Yiddish and
Hebrew are quite different (Rosten 428).
Hebrew conveys abstract teachings, while
Yiddish brings them down to earth” (Rosten
165).
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KVETCHING
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“Eskimos have a lot of words for different kinds of snow,
and by God they need them. Jews, on the other hand, have
an abundance of words to describe the many forms of
human foolishness” (Wex 15).
“If we stop kvetching, how will we know that life isn’t
supposed to be like this? If we don’t keep kvetching we’ll
forget who we really are. Kvetching lets us remember that
we’ve got nowhere to go because we’re so special” (Wex 6).
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YIDDISH: BROKHE, KLOLE, and KVETCH
(BLESSING, CURSING and COMPLAINING)
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Yiddish contains “mordant syntax,”
“sarcasm via innocuous diction,” “scorn
through reversed word order,” “contempt
via affirmation,” “fearful curses
sanctioned by nominal cancellation,” and
“derisive dismissal disguised as innocent
interrogation” (Rosten xv).
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!YIDDISH: BROKHE, KLOLE, and KVETCH
(BLESSING, CURSING and COMPLAINING)
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“The use of a question to answer a question to
which the answer is so self-evident that the use
of the first question (by you) constitutes an
affront (to me) best erased either by a) repeating
the original question, or b) retorting with a
question of comparably asanine selfansweringness” (Rosten xv).
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!!Here are some examples from
Yiddish with Dick and Jane
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fancy-schmancy
kvell
maven
mazel tov
shnorrer
tanz
Oy Vey!
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(Weiner and Davilman)
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!!!PowerPoint:
Yiddish with Dick and Jane:
http://www.vidlit.com/yidlit/
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References # 1:
Bledsoe, Hedra. “Yiddish: The Linguistic Garden of Earthly
Delights.” Tempe, AZ: LIN 515 Paper, April 11, 2006.
Fromkin, Victoria, Robert Rodman, and Nina Hyams. In
Introduction to Language, 7th Edition. Boston, MA:
Thomson/Heinle, 2003.
Hendrickson, Robert. World English: From Aloha to Zed. New
York, NY: John Wiley, 2001.
Mey, Jacob. Pragmatics: An Introduction, 2nd Edition. Malden,
MA: Blackwell, 2001.
Nilsen, Alleen Pace, and Don L. F. Nilsen "Vocabulary
Development: Teaching vs. Testing." Readings in Reading
Instruction: Its History, Theory, and Development. Ed.
Richard D. Robinson. New York, NY: Pearson/Allyn and
Bacon, 2005, 196-203.
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References # 2:
Parra Guinaldo, Victor. The Development of the Latin Initial F- in
Old Spanish. PowerPoint Presentation. Tempe, AZ: A.S.U.,
April, 2006.
Rosten, Leo. The New Joys of Yiddish, Revised. New York, NY:
Three Rivers Press, 2001.
Weiner, Ellis and Barbara Davilman. Yiddish with Dick and Jane.
New York, NY: Little, Brown, 2004.
Weinstein, Miriam. Yiddish: A Nation of Words. New York, NY:
Ballantine/Random House, 2001.
Wex, Michael. Born to Kvetch. New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press,
2005.
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FOREIGN WORDS IN ENGLISH - Arizona State University