English – A Global Language!
Fun With English
1 August 2013
What do these 3 words have in
They are all English words with foreign roots!
built for early
To drink to excess
(in voodoo cult)
About 60 % of English words have
French and Germanic roots
Another 30% have origins in the
dead language, Latin
Words of Arabic origin filtered in
through trade e.g. coffee, alcohol
Words of Spanish origin often relate
to warfare and tactics e.g. guerilla,
Words of Indian origin were coined
from the colonial era and relate to
culture e.g. pyjamas, jungle,
* Info & Image: Wikipedia
Bringing the World to your
Vocabulary & Pronunciation of Words
of Foreign Origin in the Classroom
• Economy (French: L’economie)
• Scarcity Scarce (Old French: scars, escars)
• Trade & Finance
– Capitalism, Bank, Cash (Italian: capitalismo, banco,
– Laissez-faire (French: laisser-faire, to let it be)
– Tariff (Arabic: Ta’rif, to notify)
– Debt (Latin Old French: dete)
– Embargo (Spanish: embargar, ‘to seize or impound’)
Politics & Governance:
• Coup d'état (French: "state blow“, or Overthrow of the government)
• Parliament (French: parler, ‘to speak’)
• Realpolitik (German: realist or power politics)
• Democracy (Greek)
• Mafia (Italian Sicilian, mafiusu)
• Contraband (French: contrebande, “smuggling”)
• Embezzlement “to steal or misappropriate” (French)
The Human Condition:
• Claustrophobia, xenophobia “fear of…” (Greek/Latin)
• Apartheid “separateness” (Dutch)
• haute couture "high sewing“ (French) High-class, fancy and expensive
clothing styles e.g. Chanel, Céline, Hermès
• prêt-à-porter "ready to wear“ (French) made to wear clothing
• Denim “from Nîmes” (French) French town where the cloth originated from
• Kindergarten “children’s garden” (German) pre-school
• The Star Wars Saga is “a long, sweeping tale or legend” (Old Norse)
• Rendez-vous "go to“ (noun or verb) A date or an appointment (French: verb
se rendre ‘to go’)
• RSVP "respond please” (French: Répondez, s'il vous plaît "Please RSVP" is
• Bildungsroman “coming-of-age story”
(German) e.g. Jane Eyre, Great Expectations
• Belle époque "beautiful era“ (French) e.g.
French literature at the turn of the 20th C. e.g.
Marcel Proust, In Search of Lost Time
• Zeitgeist “Spirit of the times or age” (German)
e.g. F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
Music & The Arts
belle époque "beautiful era“
The golden age of art and culture in France in the early 20th century
bas-relief "low relief/design"
Sculpture that is only slightly more prominent than its background
art déco "decorative art"
Short for art décoratif, a famous art trend in America in the Roaring Twenties
art nouveau "new art"
Characterized by flowers, leaves, and flowing lines
papier mâché "mashed paper“
Used for art
Avant garde “before guard” or “ahead of time”
Innovative, experimental art
Piano “soft” touch or the instrument
Forte “strong” touch
Fortissimo “very strong”
• Volcano (Italian)
• Caldera (Spanish)
• Sky, Geyser (Scandinavian, Old Norse)
• Hinterland (German)
• Dam (Dutch)
• Blitz, or Blitzkrieg “lightning war” (German military term
taken from: WW II era)
• Realpolitik (German: realist or power politics)
• Junta “together” (Spanish: military government)
• Holocaust (
• Alchemy (Arabic: alkimiya)
• Sodium (Arabic: suwed)
• Many elements on the Periodic Table e.g.
• Alkali (Arabic: Alqali)
• Biology (Greek)
• Many scientific and medical Terminologies (Latin & Ancient Greek)
• Albino (Spanish)
• Influenza (Italian)
• Quantum “how much” (Latin)
• Calipers “instrument of measure” (Arabic: qalip)
• The number zero (Arabic: sifar Latin: zephirum
Old Italian: zefiro French: zero)
• Lambda, sigma, alpha, beta… (Greek)
• Algebra (Arabic)
• Algorithm (Proper Noun: Al-khwarizmi Latin)
Sports, Health & Recreation:
• Abseil “to rope oneself down” (German)
• Foosball “table football” (German)
• Gesundheit “health” (German)
• Muscle (Latin, literal def. “when flexed, it is a little
mouse that runs underneath your skin”)
• Fatigue (French)
Identify words with foreign roots in this story!
The admiral hated to snoop, so he left the bottle of shampoo just where he had
found it -- next to the tea and coffee. The bottle had a picture of a llama on the label.
The admiral's wife, who usually wore a gingham dress and moccasins when visiting
their ranch on the Nebraska prairie, had just returned from her chores at the bank
and the church bazaar. She was now helping the cook make the chowder and the
goulash for lunch. the admiral heard them talking in the kitchen.
Someone was playing a ukulele, which the admiral did not like, so he turned on the
radio and listened to a pretty mazurka by Chopin. Then he looked through his
collection of pictures -- mostly of boats, rafts, and kayak he had seen.
When everyone sat down to eat, the principal of the kindergarten cried, "At last!
Hurrah!" -- and by accident spilled the ketchup all over the taffy apples! This so
amused another guest, who had just returned from a safari, that he pulled a toy
pistol out of his sack and ran all around the veranda, laughing like a maniac and firing
his pistol at imaginary zombies. It was a grand party.
Here are some answers!
If you understand the following story, you
understand at least one word from thirty-two
You are more multi-lingual than you think!
• Movie Reference:
– Youtube clips of ‘Akeelah and the Bee’ (2006)
• ‘Argillaceous’: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uQ84SYJmHYI
• ‘Big words come from little words’:
• Collection of useful French expressions used in English
(Good for essays!)
• Wikipedia (extensive list of words of foreign origin):