Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A loanword (or loan word) is a word directly taken into one language from another with little or no translation. By contrast, a calque or loan translation is a related concept whereby it is the meaning or idiom that is borrowed rather than the lexical item itself. The word loanword is itself a calque of the German Lehnwort.[1] Loanwords can also be called "borrowings". (Technically, neither "loan" nor "borrow" is correct, since the receiving language will never return the words. More accurate terminology would be "clone" (in the horticultural sense) and "adopt".)

Classes of borrowed words
The studies by Werner Betz (1949, 1959), Einar Haugen (1950, also 1956), and Uriel Weinreich (1953) are regarded as the classical theoretical works on loan influence:
On the basis of an importation-substitution distinction, Haugen (1950: 214f.) distinguishes three basic groups of borrowings: "(1) Loanwords show morphemic importation without substitution. [. . .]. (2) Loanblends show morphemic substitution as well as importation. [. . .]. (3) Loanshifts show morphemic substitution without importation". Haugen has later refined (1956) his model in a review of Gneuss's (1955) book on Old English loan coinages, whose classification, in turn, is the one by Betz (1949) again.
Weinreich (1953: 47ff.) differentiates between two mechanisms of lexical interference, namely those initiated by simple words and those initiated by compound words and phrases. Weinreich (1953: 47) defines simple words "from the point of view of the bilinguals who perform the transfer, rather than that of the descriptive linguist. Accordingly, the category 'simple' words also includes compounds that are transferred in unanalysed form". After this general classification, Weinreich then resorts to Betz's (1949) terminology.
Models that try to integrate borrowing in an overall classification of vocabulary change, or onomasiological change, have recently been proposed by Peter Koch (2002) and Joachim Grzega (2003, 2004).


  1. foreign word = non-integrated word from a foreign language, e.g. E café (from French); Sp. whisk(e)y (from English); E weltanschauung (< G Weltanschauung); It. mouse 'computer device' (< E mouse 'rodent; computer device');
    loan word = integrated word from a foreign language, e.g. E music (from French); Sp. güisqui (from English);
    partial substitution: composite words, in which one part is borrowed, another one substituted, e.g. OE Saturnes dæg 'Saturday' (< Lat. Saturnis dies), G Showgeschäft 'literally: show-business' (< E show business), G Live-Sendung 'literally: live-broadcast' (< E live broadcast)

    1. loan coinage

      1. loan formation

        1. loan translation = translation of the elements of the foreign word, e.g. OE Monan dæg 'Monday' (< Lat. Lunae dies), Fr. gratte-ciel and Sp. rasca·cielos 'both literally: scrape-sky' (< E skyscraper), E world view (< G Welt·anschauung), AmSp. manzana de Adán (< E Adam's apple; vs. EurSp. nuez [de la garganta] 'literally: nut [of the throat]');
          loan rendering = translation of part of the elements of the foreign word, e.g. E brother·hood (< Lat. frater·nitas [= Lat. frater 'brother' + suffix]), G Wolken·kratzer 'literally: clouds-scraper' (< E sky·scraper);
          loan creation coinage independent of the foreign word, but created out of the desire to replace a foreign word, e.g. E brandy (< Fr. cognac);
          loan meaning = indigenous word to which the meaning of the foreign word is transferred, e.g. OE cniht 'servant + disciple of Jesus' (< Lat. discipulus 'student, disciple of Jesus'), OE heofon 'sky, abode of the gods + Christian heaven' (< Lat. caelum 'sky, abode of the gods, Christian heaven'), G Maus and Fr souris 'rodent + computer device' (< E mouse 'rodent, computer device'). Classification of Borrowings
          Idiomatic expressions and phrases, sometimes translated word-for-word, can be borrowed, usually from a language that has "prestige" at the time. Often, a borrowed idiom is used as a euphemism for a less polite term in the original language. In English, this has usually been Latinisms from the Latin language and Gallicisms from French. If the phrase is translated word-for-word, it is known as a calque.

          Beyond words
          See also: Lists of English words of international origin
          English has many loanwords. In 1973, a computerised survey of about 80,000 words in the old Shorter Oxford Dictionary (3rd edition) was published in Ordered Profusion by Thomas Finkenstaedt and Dieter Wolff. Their estimates for the origin of English words were as follows:
          However, if the frequency of use of words is considered, words from Old and Middle English occupy the vast majority.
          The reasons for English's vast borrowing include:
          This lack of restrictions makes it comparatively easy for the English language to incorporate new words. Compare this with Japanese, where the English word "club" (itself originally from Old Norse) was turned into "kurabu" because of Japanese's inflexible syllable structure. However, the English pronunciations of loanwords often differ from the original pronunciations to such a degree that a native speaker of the language it was borrowed from is not able to recognize it as a loanword when spoken.
          English often borrows words from the cultures and languages of the British Colonies. For example there are at least 20 words from Hindi, including syce/sais, dinghy, chutney, pundit, wallah, pajama/pyjamas, bungalow and jodhpur. Other examples include trek, aardvark, laager and veld from Afrikaans, shirang, amok (Malay) and sjambok (Malay via Afrikaans).
          English also aquires loanwords in which foreign sounds are part of the foreign pronunciation. For example, the Hawaiian word ʻaʻā is used by geologists to specify lava that is relatively thick, chunky, and rough. The Hawaiian spelling indicates the two glottal stops in the word, but the usual English pronunciation, [ˈɑ.ɑ], does not contain the glottal stop. In addition, the English spelling usually removes the okina and macron diacrtic.

          French, including Old French and early Anglo-French: 28.3%
          Latin, including modern scientific and technical Latin: 28.24%
          Germanic languages, including Old and Middle English: 25%
          Greek: 5.32%
          No etymology given or unknown: 4.03%
          Derived from proper names: 3.28%
          All other languages contributed less than 1%
          (to a relatively small extent) the existence of other languages native to Britain;
          the invasion of England by the Vikings and the Normans;
          its modern importance;
          its being a scientific language;
          its development as a trade language in the 18th century; and
          the flexibility of its syllable structure. Loanwords in English
          The majority of English affixes, such as "un-", "-ing", and "-ly", were present in older forms in Old English. However, a few English affixes are borrowed. For example, the agentive suffix -er, which is very prolific, is borrowed ultimately from Latin. The verbal suffix '-ize' comes (via, Old French, via Latin) ultimately from Ancient Greek and is used liberally in America, often to the chagrin of the British (e.g. 'democratize').

          Loanword Affixes
          Direct loans, expressions translated word-by-word, or even grammatical constructions and orthographical conventions from English are called anglicisms. Similarly, loans from Swedish - like the word smörgåsbord - are called sveticisms or svecisms. In French, the result of perceived over-use of English loanwords and expressions is called franglais. English loanwords in French include 'le weekend', 'le job' (in France) or 'la job' (in Canada) and 'le biftek' (beefsteak). This has so outraged French purists that various French institutions spend much time and energy to keep the language pure. Denglish is English influence on German. Another popular term is Spanglish, the English influence on the Spanish language and Dunglish the English influence on the Dutch language.
          During the Ottoman period, Turkish literature became heavily influenced by Persian and Arabic borrowings. During more than 600 years of the Ottoman Empire, the literary and official language of the empire was a mixture of Turkish, Persian, and Arabic, which is now called Ottoman Turkish, considerably differing from the everyday spoken Turkish of the time. Many Turkish, Persian and Arabic words were also loaned to other languages of the empire, such as Bulgarian and Serbian. After the empire fell in World War I and the Republic of Turkey was founded, the Turkish language underwent an extensive language reform led by the newly founded Turkish Language Association, during which many loanwords were replaced with equivalent words derived from Turkic roots. The language reform was a part of the ongoing cultural reform of the time, in turn a part in the broader framework of Atatürk's Reforms, and included the introduction of the new Turkish alphabet. Turkish also has many loanwords derived from French, such as pantalon for 'trousers' and komik for 'funny' (from Fr. comique), all of them pronounced very similarly (except for the French pronunciation of the letter 'r').
          The Italian government has recently expressed its displeasure over the borrowing of English words and syntax in Italian. English words are often used where they are more convenient than a longer Italian expression, as in "computer" for elaboratore elettronico or "week-end" for finesettimana; but also where equally convenient Italian words already exist, as in "fashion" for moda and "meeting" for conferenza.


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