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", [ [ Online Etymology Dictionary] ] while "calque" is a loanword from French. Loanwords can also be called "borrowings".

Classes of borrowed words

Certain classes of words are more commonly borrowed than others, usually words for exotic concepts or ideas. What is "exotic" varies from language to language. Thus, English names for creatures not native to Great Britain are almost always loanwords, and most of the technical vocabulary referring to classical music is borrowed from Italian.

By contrast, function words such as pronouns, numbers, and words referring to universal concepts, are usually not borrowed, but have been in some cases, eg. English "they" from Old Norse "".

Classification of borrowings

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 [Cf. the two survey articles by Oksaar (1996: 4f.), Stanforth (2002) and Grzega (2003, 2004).] . The basic theoretical statements all depart from Betz’s nomenclature. Duckworth (1977) enlarges Betz’s scheme by the type “partial substitution” and supplements the system with English terms [The following comments and examples are taken from Grzega, Joachim (2004), "Bezeichnungswandel: Wie, Warum, Wozu?", Heidelberg: Winter, p. 139, and Grzega, Joachim (2003), [ “Borrowing as a Word-Finding Process in Cognitive Historical Onomasiology”] , " [ Onomasiology Online] " 4: 22-42.] :

# importation
## foreign word = non-integrated word from a foreign language, e.g. E "café" (from French); Sp. "whisk(e)y" (from English) (*the word whiskey in fact comes from the Irish phrase "uisce beatha" which means the water of life, "aqua vitae"); E ' (< G '); It. "mouse" ‘computer device’ (< E "mouse" ‘rodent; computer device’).
## loan word = integrated word from a foreign language, e.g. E "music" (from French "musique"); Sp. "chófer" (from French "chauffeur").
# partial substitution: composite words, in which one part is borrowed, another one substituted, e.g. OE "Saturnes dæg" ‘Saturday’ (< Lat. "Saturni dies"), G "Showgeschäft" ‘literally: show-business’ (< E "show business"), G "Live-Sendung" ‘literally: live-broadcast’ (< E "live broadcast").
# substitution
## loan coinage
### loan formation
#### 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] ) .
### 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’).

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).

Ghil'ad Zuckermann's analysis of multisourced neologization (2003) [Zuckermann, Ghil’ad (2003), [ ‘‘Language Contact and Lexical Enrichment in Israeli Hebrew’’] , Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan.] challenges Einar Haugen's classic typology of lexical borrowing [Haugen, Einar (1950), "The Analysis of Linguistic Borrowing", "Language" 26, pp. 210-231.] . While Haugen categorizes borrowing into either substitution or importation, Zuckermann explores cases of "simultaneous substitution and importation" in the form of camouflaged borrowing. He proposes a new classification of multisourced neologisms, words deriving from two or more sources at the same time. Examples of such mechanisms are phonetic matching, semanticized phonetic matching and phono-semantic matching. Phono-semantic matching is distinct from calquing. While calquing includes (semantic) translation, it does not consist of phonetic matching (i.e. retaining the approximate sound of the borrowed word through matching it with a similar-sounding pre-existent word/morpheme in the target language).

Beyond words

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.

Loanwords in English

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:

* French and Norman, including Old French, Old Norman, Anglo-French and Anglo-Norman: 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%

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:
* (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; and
* the flexibility of its syllable structure.

This lack of restrictions makes it comparatively easy for the English language to incorporate new words. 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 has often borrowed words from the cultures and languages of the British Colonies. For example, words borrowed from Hindi include syce/sais, dinghy, chutney, pundit, wallah, pajama/pyjamas, bungalow and jodhpur. Other examples include trek, aardvark, laager, wildebeest and veld from Afrikaans, shirang, amok (Malay) and sjambok (Malay via Afrikaans).

English also acquires loanwords in which foreign sounds are part of the foreign pronunciation. For example, the Hawaiian word "okinaaokinaā" 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, IPA| [ˈɑ.ɑ] , does not contain the glottal stop. In addition, the English spelling usually removes the okina and macron diacritic [citebook|last=Elbert|first=Samuel H.|last2=Pukui|first2=Mark Kawena|title=Hawaiian Dictionary|place=Honolulu|publisher=University of Hawaiokinai Press|year=1986|edition=revised and enlarged edition|isbn=0824807030|page=389] .


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 English verbal suffix "-ize" comes from Greek -ιζειν via Latin "-izare".

Other languages

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 svecismsFact|date=October 2007. 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). Denglisch 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".

Words are occasionally borrowed with a different meaning than the meaning in the source language. Among the most well-known examples of this is the German word "Handy", which is a borrowing of the English adjective "handy", but means mobile phone and is thus a noun. Conversely, in English the prefix "über-", taken from German, is used in a way that it is rarely used in German.

Words borrowed into different languages are sometimes spelled as in the original language (such as many of the loanwords above). Sometimes loanwords retain original (or near-original) pronunciation, but undergo a spelling change to represent the orthography of the adopting language. Welsh is a language where this is done with some consistency, with words like "gêm" (game), "cwl" (cool), and "ded-gifawe" (dead giveaway).

Some languages, such as Jèrriais, have a tendency to apply historical sound-shift patterns to new borrowed words; while Jèrriais speakers would have little difficulty pronouncing "parki", "partchi" (to park) is the word used, displaying the typical Norman ki->tchi shift.

Most languages modify loanwords to fit native pronunciation patterns. An excellent example of this is Japanese. Japanese contains a tremendous amount of loanwords (gairaigo). Ignoring ancient influence from China, recently most Gairaigo has come from English, though there have been significant borrowings from Dutch, German and other languages. There are almost always significant pronunciation shifts (baseball -> beisubaru). Longer terms often are shortened (word processor -> wapuro). In some cases the original meaning shifts considerably through unexpected logical leaps (smorgasboard -> baikingu (Viking): the word smorgasboard is of Norse origin). In other cases the words are borrowed and used in totally inexplicable contexts, with words picked seemingly at random. This is often the case in the names of small businesses, or in artistic works as seen in many anime and manga series such as Bubblegum Crisis. Gairaigo is such a large part of the modern Japanese vocabulary that there are specialized dictionaries for it.


It is possible for a word to travel from one language to another and then back to the original language in a different form, a process called "reborrowing". A specific example of this is the French "le biftek", which is borrowed from the English "beefsteak", while the English "beef" is originally from the Norman (cf. French "le bœuf").

Another example of this is found in Northern Africa where the Spanish word "Zapato" is used for the word shoe. However, the word "Zapato" came from the Arabic word for shoe: "Sabbat" (سباط) which was borrowed by the Spanish when the Islamic Arabs were living in Andalusia (modern day Spain).


* Betz, Werner (1949): "Deutsch und Lateinisch: Die Lehnbildungen der althochdeutschen Benediktinerregel". Bonn: Bouvier.
*Betz, Werner (1959): “Lehnwörter und Lehnprägungen im Vor- und Frühdeutschen”. In: Maurer, Friedrich / Stroh, Friedrich (eds.): "Deutsche Wortgeschichte". 2nd ed. Berlin: Schmidt, vol. 1, 127-147.
*Cannon, Garland (1999): “Problems in studying loans”, "Proceedings of the annual meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society" 25, 326-336.
*Duckworth, David (1977): “Zur terminologischen und systematischen Grundlage der Forschung auf dem Gebiet der englisch-deutschen Interferenz: Kritische Übersicht und neuer Vorschlag”. In: Kolb, Herbert / Lauffer, Hartmut (eds.) (1977): Sprachliche Interferenz: Festschrift für Werner Betz zum 65. Geburtstag. Tübingen: Niemeyer, p. 36-56.
*Gneuss, Helmut (1955): "Lehnbildungen und Lehnbedeutungen im Altenglischen". Berlin: Schmidt.
*Grzega, Joachim (2003): [ “Borrowing as a Word-Finding Process in Cognitive Historical Onomasiology”] , " [ Onomasiology Online] " 4, 22-42.
*Grzega, Joachim (2004): "Bezeichnungswandel: Wie, Warum, Wozu?" Heidelberg: Winter.
*Haugen, Einar (1950): “The analysic of linguistic borrowing”. "Language" 26, 210-231.
*Haugen, Einar (1956): “Review of Gneuss 1955”. "Language" 32, 761-766.
*Hitchings, Henry (2008): "The Secret Life of Words". London: John Murray.
*Koch, Peter (2002): “Lexical Typology from a Cognitive and Linguistic Point of View”. In: Cruse, D. Alan et al. (eds.): "Lexicology: An International on the Nature and Structure of Words and Vocabularies/Lexikologie: Ein internationales Handbuch zur Natur und Struktur von Wörtern und Wortschätzen". Berlin/New York: Walter de Gruyter, 1142-1178.
*Oksaar, Els (1996): “The history of contact linguistics as a discipline”. In: Goebl, Hans et al. (eds.): "Kontaktlinguistik/contact linguistics/linguistique de contact: ein internationales Handbuch zeitgenössischer Forschung/an international handbook of contemporary research/manuel international des recherches contemporaines". Berlin/New York: Walter de Gruyter, 1-12.
*Stanforth, Anthony W. (2002): “Effects of language contact on the vocabulary: an overview”. In: Cruse, D. Alan et al. (eds.) (2002): Lexikologie: ein internationales Handbuch zur Natur und Struktur von Wörtern und Wortschätzen/Lexicology: an international handbook on the nature and structure of words and vocabularies. Berlin/New York: Walter de Gruyter, p. 805-813.
* Weinreich, Uriel (1953): "Languages in contact: findings and problems". The Hague: Mouton.
*Zuckermann, Ghil’ad (2003), [ ‘‘Language Contact and Lexical Enrichment in Israeli Hebrew’’] , Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan.

See also

* Hybrid word
* Lists of English words of international origin
* List of replaced loanwords in Turkish
* Semantic loan
* Sino-Japanese vocabulary
* Sino-Korean vocabulary
* Sino-Vietnamese vocabulary


External links

* [ Discussion on how loan words exacerbate Future Shock] (Streaming audio & mp3)

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  • loanword — n. a word borrowed from another language; e.g. blitz is a German word borrowed into modern English. Syn: loan. [WordNet 1.5] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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  • loanword — [lōn′wʉrd΄] n. [infl. by Ger lehnwort] a word of one language taken into another and naturalized (Ex.: KINDERGARTEN < Ger, CHAUFFEUR < Fr) …   English World dictionary

  • loanword — n. 1) to adopt a loanword 2) a loanword from (a loanword from French) * * * to adopt a loanword a loanword from (a loanword from French) …   Combinatory dictionary

  • loanword — UK [ˈləʊnˌwɜː(r)d] / US [ˈloʊnˌwɜrd] noun [countable] Word forms loanword : singular loanword plural loanwords linguistics a word from one language that is used in another language without being changed …   English dictionary

  • loanword — noun /ˈloʊnwɝd,ˈləʊn.wɜː(ɹ)d/ A word directly taken into one language from another one with little or no translation. The word exit is a loanword from Latin. Syn: borrowing, foreign, word …   Wiktionary

  • loanword — noun Date: 1869 a word taken from another language and at least partly naturalized …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • loanword — /lohn werrd /, n. a word in one language that has been borrowed from another language and usually naturalized, as wine, taken into Old English from Latin vinum, or macho, taken into Modern English from Spanish. Also, loan word. Also called loan.… …   Universalium

  • loanword — loan|word [ˈləunwə:d US ˈlounwə:rd] n a word taken into one language from another = ↑borrowing …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • loanword — loan|word [ loun,wɜrd ] noun count LINGUISTICS a word from one language that is used in another language without being changed …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

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