English words by country or language of origin
We looked at some of the major sources of English words, the languages that are behind most of the vocabulary of English: the Old English base, the large number of French words, borrowings from Latin, and of the other languages, Ancient Greek being the #1.
But within a few percent – some estimate around 1%, maybe up to a few – there are words coming from languages all over the world in English.
And although they make up a small proportion of the overall vocabulary, they certainly have a lot of interesting flavour that they bring to the English language.
So this list here is a nice collection of many of them.
And something I recommend, if you are a speaker of any of these languages, look up some of the words that come from your language, or just any language that you’re interested in.
You can see quite a collection here.
So if you just look at some of these languages, they often come in certain fields.
Like there’s usually some kind of reason why a particular language becomes a source for vocabulary, and often it’s in certain specialized areas.
So of course, here we have, for Arabic, for the Islamic religion, those terms, a lot of them are specifically in Arabic, so that’s no surprise.
But also interesting that a lot of astronomy was influenced through Arabic astronomy, Arabic scholarship, so a lot of our star names are in Arabic.
So if you start talking about the names of different stars in the night sky, you may end up speaking a lot of Arabic.
And same you see here with botany, with different names for different plants.
Also in textiles.
So by seeing the areas that each language is called on for, you really get a picture of the way that this language particularly had an influence.
And of course, cuisine.
Now, this is something that you see for pretty much any language, any cultural area.
Their food, food names, are almost like the most likely names to be taken from another language.
So if a culture has its own cuisine, and then English-speaking people start to want to try and eat that food, that is the easiest way for words to come into English.
And, of course, musical instruments as well.
So take a look at, in Russian, well, all sorts of common ones, and quite a collection mixed in there.
Then, of course, Russian cuisine.
Also, you know, through Russian, had a lot of political influence.
A lot of this is, you know, from the Soviet era, so these sort of political terms came in, a lot of Soviet-flavour vocabulary coming in.
And OK, Russian orthodox religion.
And also interesting technical and and scientific terms, terms like cosmonaut.
And we have some plants.
And, of course, animals and plants, that would be another thing that would be common for each language.
Whatever the local animals and plants of the area of that language, that would be a common way to bring in these foreign words.
You can even see, of course, Japanese is another interesting source, that we have Japanese culture having a very strong influence, so things like anime, you know, haikus.
And so these are many very strong words here.
Business philosophy, like kaizen, is brought in.
Fashion, like kimonos.
And, of course, all sorts of Japanese food terms, as you see.
Terms from Japanese history.
And, of course, martial arts.
So it’s like the area, the size and the areas, of the vocabulary brought in from each language really gives you a picture into the cultural influence of that language on English speakers.
And even you see a case like for Hawaii.
You have the word a’a, which is a very fun word to say.
Maybe can have special application in Scrabble, a two-letter word, aa.
And aloha, and so on.
So I recommend this page for really exploring the vocabulary of different languages in English, and you may find some interesting surprises.