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Fri Dec 16, 2011, 08:04 AM

 

Languages you didn't know you borrow words from (1)

Let's discuss some of the linguistic history of the English language.

We all know that English is what you get when you mix Angles and Saxons (with a hint of Jutes and Frisians) and top it off with a liberal dose of French. Most of us probably know that there is a susbstantial body of loan words from the Norse and Danish languages. Some Celtic, obviously, must not be forgotten.

But there are substratums (layers of loan words) that you didn't know about. You may not even have heard of the languages they have been derived from. And we might as well discuss them, just because we can.

Part 1: The Cananephates

Cananephates/ Kaninefaten/ Cananafati were swineherds in what is now The Netherlands. They had settled in the only place that, BCE, was habitable (no dykes and polders yet): the coast. Their language may or may not have been related to the languages of the European Hydronyms System. The EHS were the predominant group of languages in Western Europe before Celts, Italians, and Germanic tribes stomped in and took over the place(s). Little of them remains, exept a tendency to call a river something with R(h) and N - like Rhine, Rhône, Arno, Irno, and so on.

There is indeed a river Rijn floating through the coastal regions of the Netherlands. But the Cananephates left another contribution to the history of our language: swineherding jargon.

It is in the nature of any language to copy foreign words for distinctions that their own vocabulary doesn't make. That's why we don't say Bread Disc, but Pizza. That's why we don't say super-king, but emperor. And that is why we talk about pigs and soughs. Because those words were copied into the Saxonian and Frisian languages - and later retained in the developing English language) from the language of the Cananephates. Pig (Big in Dutch and Frisian) and Sough (Zeug, Sau) made meanings possible that the old word Swine just didn't cover or specify. As did a lot of swineherding oddities that haven't made it to our digital era.

The Cananephates are not attested in AD years. The toponyms at the Dutch coast indicate that they were violently replaced by the Frisians, before those gave way to the Saxons and Franks. Almost nothing of them remains, except some words for the animal you show to your son or daughter says: "oink".

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Arrow 30 replies Author Time Post
Reply Languages you didn't know you borrow words from (1) (Original post)
Betty Karlson Dec 2011 OP
Odin2005 Dec 2011 #1
Betty Karlson Dec 2011 #2
Lydia Leftcoast Dec 2011 #4
Starboard Tack Dec 2011 #5
Odin2005 Jan 2012 #18
OldEurope Jun 2015 #29
Odin2005 Jan 2012 #17
Lionel Mandrake Aug 2014 #28
geardaddy Dec 2011 #3
Odin2005 Jan 2012 #19
geardaddy Jan 2012 #20
refrescanos Jul 2013 #24
geardaddy Jul 2013 #25
refrescanos Jul 2013 #26
Lydia Leftcoast Dec 2011 #6
pink-o Jan 2012 #7
geardaddy Jan 2012 #10
Wolf Frankula Jan 2012 #8
IntravenousDemilo Jan 2012 #9
geardaddy Jan 2012 #11
geardaddy Jan 2012 #12
pink-o Jan 2012 #13
geardaddy Jan 2012 #14
A777 Jan 2012 #15
NuclearDem Jul 2013 #27
geardaddy Jan 2012 #16
RZM Jan 2012 #21
Lydia Leftcoast Feb 2012 #22
vkkv Mar 2016 #30
bestbagsforu Apr 2012 #23

Response to Betty Karlson (Original post)

Fri Dec 16, 2011, 10:02 AM

1. English's usage of "do" as a dummy verb is a Welsh influence.

If English were like other Germanic languages we would say things like "he works not" or "Speak you English?". But instead we say "He doesn't work" and "Do you speak English?". The only other languages in Europe that do this are the Brythonic Celtic languages: Welsh, Cornish, and Breton.

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Response to Odin2005 (Reply #1)

Fri Dec 16, 2011, 12:34 PM

2. That would be a grammatical substratum.

 

Thanks for that addition. Would you know of more grammatical substratums to add? I think I'm not the only one who likes to read such information. (Or you can add them to part two of the obscure loan word sources.)

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Response to Betty Karlson (Reply #2)

Tue Dec 20, 2011, 11:01 PM

4. A borrowing from French is our use of the object pronouns as emphatics

Germans will point to a picture of themselves and say, "Das ist ich." "That is I."

In the same situation, Norwegians say, "Det er jeg." "That is I."

French people say, "C'est moi," not "*C'est je."

Generations of English teachers told their students that they should say, "It's I," because that was supposedly "logical."

But ever since the Norman French invaded England, English speakers have said, "It's me."

We also say "Who, me?" where a German would say, "Wer, ich?" "Who, I?"

A French person would say, "Qui, moi?"

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Response to Lydia Leftcoast (Reply #4)

Wed Dec 21, 2011, 09:32 PM

5. And the Italians would say "Sono io" I am I

"Sei tu" You are you, but "E lui" it is him. The third person usage of the object pronoun has become the norm.

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Response to Lydia Leftcoast (Reply #4)

Thu Jan 26, 2012, 02:01 AM

18. English has to some extent been absorbed into the West Romance sprachbund.

Sprachbund being the term used for a group of languages that share grammatical features because of mutual influence rather than inherited similarities.

English is a Germanic language, but it's syntax has a strongly Western Romance flavor. it has a strictly SVO word order, rather than the Verb-Second order of all the other Germanic languages.

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Response to Lydia Leftcoast (Reply #4)

Sat Jun 13, 2015, 01:46 PM

29. That is not exactly right.

In German it would be "Das bin ich" - "That am I"

So in both languages we have the use of conjugation for verbs. But the rules for this are different.

Edited to add: This should have been a reply to post #2!

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Response to Betty Karlson (Reply #2)

Thu Jan 26, 2012, 01:53 AM

17. There is a strong Old Norse adstratum.

Besides giving us a lot of doublets like shirt-skirt, it is also the cause of the loss of grammatical case and gender in English, as shown by the fact that case and gender survived longer in the south of England. Linguist John McWhorter suggests that this is the result of a huge number of Norse migrants to the English Danelaw who learned English only imperfectly.

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Response to Odin2005 (Reply #17)

Sat Aug 9, 2014, 03:33 PM

28. Case and gender still survive in English,

but only or mainly in the personal pronouns, e.g.,

N: he, she, it
G: his, her, its
A & D: him, her, it

Admittedly, this is only a vestige of the former case system in Old English.

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Response to Odin2005 (Reply #1)

Fri Dec 16, 2011, 05:01 PM

3. In the case of "do you speak English" Welsh doesn't change word order for a question

Rwyt ti'n siarad Saesneg.

(affirmative marker) You are (linking particle yn) speak English.

Wyt ti'n siarad Saesneg?

You are (linking particle yn) speak English?

I think it comes out more in the past

Mi nes i siarad Saesneg

(affirmative marker) Did I speak English.

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Response to geardaddy (Reply #3)

Thu Jan 26, 2012, 02:05 AM

19. The Celtic languages are awesome.

Verb-initial word order, crazy consonant mutations, unusual consonant distinctions (like Welsh "ll"...

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Response to Odin2005 (Reply #19)

Thu Jan 26, 2012, 11:47 AM

20. Yep!

That "ll" is prevalent in some Native American languages. And I know it's also in Zulu.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voiceless_alveolar_lateral_fricative

Yeah, those consonant mutations are bit hard to get used to at first. But after a while they seem to be so natural.

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Response to geardaddy (Reply #20)

Mon Jul 8, 2013, 12:13 AM

24. P celtic is said to have african syntax

Words
Slogan, cam (camshaft), smashing, o'

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Response to refrescanos (Reply #24)

Mon Jul 8, 2013, 07:13 PM

25. Interesting!

Thanks!

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Response to geardaddy (Reply #25)

Mon Jul 8, 2013, 08:20 PM

26. messed up

I should have said Q Celtic (Irish, Scottish, Manx...Maybe Cornish)
Which might make sense because in Irish/Scottish legend, they were in Egypt for awhile.
I think in Cymric legend descent is claimed from the melchizedek priesthood.
Anywho, hope I got those tidbits right as I read that stuff a looking time ago.

o_O

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Response to Betty Karlson (Original post)

Sat Dec 24, 2011, 12:53 PM

6. Two borrowings from Japanese:

There are obvious ones that refer to Japanese culture, such as samurai, sushi, and kabuki, but here are two that aren't quite so obvious.

"Head honcho." A lot of people think that this is Mexican Spanish, but it actually comes from the Japanese hanchô, "squad leader."

Another stealth borrowing is "tycoon," from taikun, or "great lord" under the feudal system.

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Response to Lydia Leftcoast (Reply #6)

Sat Jan 7, 2012, 09:05 PM

7. I thought Tycoon was Chinese.

Tai meaning Great--like typhoon and Taiwan. Of course, the Japanese ripped off a lot from their southern neighbors.

I am pretty comfortable in countries where Latin or Germanic is the basis of the native language (and of course, it's written in Roman letters!). When I was in Japan, I truly felt like a Stranger in a Strange land (with apologies to Heinlen) but I fell in love with it, and the way Japanese can either be spoken so quietly or yelled from the back of a truck in the middle of Shinjuku, by barkers who're trying to get your attention. It mirrors the dichotomy of Tokyo, a city where your senses are overloaded in one neighborhood, abutting another with a Shinto Temple where you only hear the running waterfalls.

Languages are so amazing, they just open a window into the soul of a culture.

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Response to pink-o (Reply #7)

Thu Jan 12, 2012, 12:37 PM

10. Typhoon is Chinese

Tai-feng "great wind"

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Response to Lydia Leftcoast (Reply #6)

Mon Jan 9, 2012, 11:15 PM

8. That's Interesting.

I once heard that honcho was introduced by Basque sheepherders from the Euskara jauntxo little lord or boss.

Wolf

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Response to Betty Karlson (Original post)

Tue Jan 10, 2012, 02:41 AM

9. Soughs?

(Sows)

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Response to Betty Karlson (Original post)

Thu Jan 12, 2012, 12:40 PM

11. Pidgin

Chinese attempt at saying the word "business"

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Response to Betty Karlson (Original post)

Thu Jan 12, 2012, 12:50 PM

12. brasserie

1864, "brewery," from Fr., from M.Fr. brasser "to brew," from L. brace "grain used to prepare malt," said by Pliny to be a Celtic word (cf. Welsh brag "malt".

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Response to Betty Karlson (Original post)

Fri Jan 13, 2012, 09:24 AM

13. Hindi: Shampoo and Pajamas

Yiddish: Maven and Copacetic.

And everyone knows Arabic: Alcohol, and Algebra. I'll take the first, y'all can keep the second!

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Response to pink-o (Reply #13)

Thu Jan 19, 2012, 01:34 PM

14. I think Thug comes from Hindi, too.

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Response to pink-o (Reply #13)

Fri Jan 20, 2012, 04:32 AM

15. Other words from Arabic

 

Coffee is also Arabic.

Coffee - from "kahwa" in Arabic, which became "kahve" in Turkish, cafe in Spanish, and Coffee in English

Lime and Lemon, also derive from Arabic, because they were first imported from the Arab world. Same goes for Spinach which was imported to Spain by Arabs.

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Response to A777 (Reply #15)

Sun Jul 14, 2013, 12:19 AM

27. Same with zero, alcohol, algebra, several names of stars (Altair, Betelgeuse), and magazine

 

Jar, guitar, and the literal translation of "chemistry" became alchemy in English.

(I was an Arabic linguist).

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Response to Betty Karlson (Original post)

Tue Jan 24, 2012, 01:43 PM

16. "tea" comes from Min-nan (Taiwanese Hokkien)

Te: From tê in Amoy dialect, spoken in Fujian Province and Taiwan. It reached the West from the port of Xiamen (Amoy), once a major point of contact with Western European traders such as the Dutch, who spread it to Western Europe.

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Response to Betty Karlson (Original post)

Sat Jan 28, 2012, 01:39 PM

21. 'Boondocks' comes from Tagalog

 

'Bundok' means mountain in that language. Apparently American soldiers picked it up during the occupation of the Phillipines after the Spanish-American war.

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Response to Betty Karlson (Original post)

Wed Feb 8, 2012, 02:25 AM

22. "Amok" as in "run amok" comes from Malay

"Tepee" is Lakota.

The use of "dumb" to mean "stupid" and the use of "fresh" (not so common anymore) to mean "impudent, out of line" come from German immigrants. "Dumb" originally meant "mute."

"Skirt," "like," and "egg" are words that were brought to England by the Vikings, who ruled the north of England in the region known as the "Danelaw." Even though both Old English and Old Norse were Germanic languages, these particular forms were Scandinavian in origin and replaced the original Old English forms.

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Response to Lydia Leftcoast (Reply #22)

Wed Mar 30, 2016, 03:34 PM

30. I was going to enter "Amok", you beat me to it.. years ago!

 

The way I understand Viking movement from a piece in Nat'l Geo long ago, is that Danes went east to the Brit Isles, Iceland and America. The Norwegian vikes went down the coast of France while Swedish vikes went inland into Russia following rivers and portaging their lightweight boats over land becoming community leaders due to their organization skills, settling in Kiev, and going all the way down to the Mediterranean where they were often hired as mercenaries around what is now Istanbul.

Am I Swedish or Norwegian you ask?
No, I am neither Swedish Norwegian...

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Response to Betty Karlson (Original post)

Fri Apr 27, 2012, 09:39 PM

23. Spam deleted by MaineDem (MIR Team)

 

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