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Spanish words : I deal in hope

I deal in hope : Carolyn R Scheidies

Blog Our Language Shows America is a Melting Pot

Each of us grew up with a certain vocabulary from our families. At school we broadened our knowledge of words and as we grew older, that usually, included a year or two of a foreign language such as Spanish or French. Furthermore, more and more children in America are growing up in homes that are bilingual.

But while I believe each American citizen should be able to speak and comprehend English, our language reveals American English is anything but pure British English. In fact, American English has borrowed from languages from around the world, making our language richer, deeper, broader.

With some words, I already knew the source was Spanish, such as adobe, coyote, rodeo. I didn’t know that these words also derive from Spanish: cafeteria, potato and the one thing many can’t do without—chocolate. It isn’t surprising that these as well as many other words now in common usage have been borrowed from our neighbors to the south.

I suppose it also shouldn’t have surprised me that we have borrowed African words such as banana, cola, safari and yam. Did you know the word admiral is Arabic, along with alcohol and coffee? Who knew! I’ll bet you can guess these words, boomerang, kangaroo and koala have infiltrated our language from Australia.

The Chinese contributed soy, tea, and, what my son dislikes intensely, tofu. Who would have guessed that robot is a Czech word or that we’ve even included a Lapp word—tundra. Dutch words include bush, cole slaw and cookie. What would Cookie Monster be without his cookies?

East Indian words include bungalow, cashmere, pajamas and shampoo. I had no idea those last two words weren’t 100% American. They are Amarican now. As you could expect, we’ve incorporated a whole list of words from the French such as attorney, authority, ballet and clergy. They also contributed exposé, crime, government and religion.

From the Germans, we’ve borrowed diesel, ecology, hamburger and frankfurter. (If it’s a food word, we’ll probably add it.) Hieroglyph is Greek; kosher and shalom, Hebrew; gingham, ketchup and gong come from Malaysia and Indonesia. Italian words are also numerous such as attitude, balcony, carnival, jeans and macaroni. Sherbert, yogurt and shish kabab are Turkish, while chipmunk and skunk are Native American. These are just a sample of words borrowed from these people groups and countries.

We in the United States like to think we speak English, but our English is really an amalgamation of words from peoples around the world who’ve found a home, and freedom, in America. As with our words, the people of the United States have also melded cultures and traditions. The United States of America is about the coming together of many different peoples all with a similar dream, one of hope and freedom and security.

The dream stays alive as we remain not individual cultures, not divided, but continue to be the melting pot of the world.

© 2008, 2020 Carolyn R Scheidies
Fill free to pass on

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