ь asked in Society & CultureLanguages · 1 month ago

why are there many loanwords in english?

6 Answers

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  • Anonymous
    6 days ago

    They aren't loanwords.  People with other languages lived among the Angles.  And the languages comingled a bit.

  • 1 month ago

    English is really a hybrid of two different language families. The original inhabitants of England were the Angles (as in Anglo-Saxon) and they spoke a language very similar to German, Swedish, etc. This was the everyday language of common people, and so common everyday words like house, man, year, etc that we still use come from this part of our history.

    But when the French (the Normans) invaded England in 1066, and began to rule the country, they spoke French at court and in all official roles. So a more formal set of words, based on Latin, came into use to describe things in a more official way. You have a pain in your tooth (Germanic) so you go to a dentist (Latin). You are thirsty (Germanic), and you drink (Germanic), so you won't dehydrate (Latin). Anything medical, legal, official, formal or somehow more elevated than the common language has its roots in Latin. Which is why we have two or more words for almost everything. I think English is the only language with a thesaurus for this reason.

    As a very adaptable language, and as English spread around the world, it became part of the nature of the language to adopt new words for specific situations. Rather than try to come up with a new word to describe something, we found it easier and more natural to just adopt it - like 'laissez-faire' or 'scheudenfraude' or 'tsunami'. Because of the language's history, if another word or phrase does the job better, we just start using it.

    This can really only happen in a dominant language like English. In languages that have fewer speakers, borrowing words from English (usually) can actually harm the original language. You find that eventually the entire language becomes a kind of patois of English instead of the original language it was. But English is strong enough and global enough to absorb borrowed words without damaging itself - in fact, it's part of our history.

  • abdul
    Lv 7
    1 month ago

    Mainly because of colonialism. English speakers colonized many other nations with different languages. 

  • Zirp
    Lv 7
    1 month ago

    It's a type of laziness, and partly due to the relative lack of structure of English.  Aymara hasn't adopted any loanwords for centuries, because you could combine wordparts to form new words. This principle works in German and Esperanto too.

    Languages like Icelandic have an "Academy" whose task it is to keep the language "pure". If a new words is needed, they first look at icelandic to make it, if that fails they look at northgermanic languages, if that fails westgermanic languages have a solution, and only if that fails they consider adopting a non-germanic word.

    English simply adopts any word that has the right meaning, which means that you sometimes have dozens of words for the exact same thing.

    "cabbage-salad" is a perfectly understandable and logical word, but for some reason they had to adopt the peasant-dutch word cole-slaw.

    and calf-meat somehow became veal

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  • 1 month ago

    Evolution of language.

  • Scott
    Lv 6
    1 month ago

    Do you mean like Tsunami?  All languages tend to borrow words from other languages.

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