"In very many cases, English has borrowed a word
from one language that had previously borrowed it from elsewhere. Among those Portuguese and Spanish words there are many that originated among speakers of very different languages. For instance, piranha comes ultimately from Tupi (a language of Brazil) and acai comes from a related language called Nheengatu, while mango is probably ultimately from Malayalam across the other side of the world in India, and monsoon is ultimately from Arabic (and in a further twist, Dutch may also have played a hand in how it came into English from Portuguese). " (There was a previous BBC article on this topic which is linked in the post which contains more examples.)
BBC article about how words have flowed back and forth over the centuries.
posted by marienbad
on Feb 13, 2014 -
Wondering about your British colleagues wearing tank tops
in chilly weather and complaining about bumf
? Trying to figure out what your American colleagues mean by poster child
or hump day
, or just where exactly kitty-corner
is? Lynneguist's Separated By a Common Language
will get you sorted
. [more inside]
posted by Nomyte
on Mar 23, 2013 -
21 emotions English has no word for
. Some things "light us up". Some things "leave us cold". Such dim metaphors only hint at the unspoken universe of feeling, dimensions we can only guess that we share. A new infographic explores "untranslatable" feeling-words from other languages.
posted by Twang
on Jan 6, 2013 -
: "an online lexical reference system whose design is inspired by current psycholinguistic theories of human lexical memory. English nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs are organized into synonym sets, each representing one underlying lexical concept. Different relations link the synonym sets." What does one do
posted by archimago
on Aug 9, 2004 -
This has been floating vaguely in the memesphere for a year or so, and is ready to pop. Seems we Anglophones are not nations separated by a common language anymore, but "a distinct civilization in [our] own right."
Western in origin but no longer entirely Western in composition and nature, this civilization is marked by a particularly strong civil society, which is the source of its long record of successful constitutional government and economic prosperity. ... [its] continuous leadership of the Scientific-Technological Revolution from the seventeenth century to the twenty-first century stems from these characteristics and is thus likely to continue for the foreseeable future.
It is not, however, a return of " the racialist Anglo-Saxonism dating from the era around 1900" ... he says. The author was profiled
in Industry Standard in August 2001. His company provides "sovereignty services" — i.e., moving wealth offshore.
posted by hairyeyeball
on Apr 12, 2003 -
Do Most Of You Yanks Really Understand What The Brits Here Are On About?
Although the cultural mistranslations are probably more a question of tone and habits of irony and understatement, Jeremy Smith's online American·British
, to be published next September, might be of some assistance. Although I still prefer Terry Gliedt's older but pithier United Kingdom English For The American Novice
and even Scotsman Chris Rae's English-to-American Dictionary
. Here's a little BBC quiz
to test your skills. It seems that Canadians
and [another cute quiz coming up!
] New Zealanders
are the only Metafilterians to completely capture all the varieties of English usage here. Perhaps it all comes down to the fact that non-U.S. users know much, much less about England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand et caetera than vice-versa? Does anyone else get the occasional feeling we're not exactly speaking the same language here?
posted by MiguelCardoso
on Apr 5, 2003 -