Borrowing in the English language
English is not much a language of its own, but rather an accumulation of many different languages. Through borrowing, English has grown into a massive concoction of various languages and dialects. Although there are more than a few words that do not derive from other languages, such as: “shallow,” “flabbergasted,” and “insight,” most English words come from either Latin or Germanic tongues. To understand how English came to be, one must understand the concept of borrowing.
In the traditional sense, borrowing is a transaction in which someone uses an object that has to be returned at some point to the original owner. When dealing with language however, it has a very different meaning. Professor Suzanne Kemer of Rice University defines borrowing as, “The process of speakers adopting words from a source language into their native language.” These borrowed words often change as they become absorbed into different cultures, but retain similarities to those from which they derive. Understanding borrowing means knowing what causes the process to occur.
Certain conditions are required for borrowing to take place. The most crucial requirement is contact between cultures of varying tongues. The circumstances may differ between situations, but contact is necessary. Geography is largely responsible for this contact, as it is the main cause of war. Many civilizations decide to attack opposing nations for their land. In doing so, they are exposed to different languages.
Over time, the conquered cultures assimilate into the victorious cultures. As a result, not only are their cultures absorbed, but their languages as well.
Foreign trade can also bring about language borrowing. In order for economical transactions to occur, both the buyer and the sell must have a sufficient ability to communicate with each other. Merchants are taught many languages for the purpose of trade. Through the process of commerce, cultures begin to understand...