Loanwords and loan phrases

Loanwords and loan phrases are terms that have been taken from other languages and used as English words and phrases. Another term for a loanword is a borrowed word. Loanwords and loan phrases come into the English language when English speakers come into contact with other languages and cultures.

When loanwords and loan phrases first enter the English language, they are used by bilingual speakers and usually maintain the original pronunciation from the source language. As other English speakers adopt the loanwords and loan phrases, the pronunciation may change to incorporate sounds more in keeping with the English speakers’ accents. A foreign word evolves into a loanword when it is adopted into the vocabulary of the average English speaker, not just English speakers who come into contact with the source language and culture. Do not confuse loanwords and loan phrases with calques. A calque is a loan translation, it is a word or phrase which adopts the meaning of a foreign word or phrase with existing English words. Some examples of calques are the English word bushmeat taken from the French word viande de brousse, and the English phrase rest in peace derived from the Latin phrase requiescat in pace.

English has incorporated loanwords and loan phrases from many languages. For instance, the terms modus operandi and quid pro quo are borrowed from Latin, à la carte and gaffe are borrowed from French, karaoke and bokeh are borrowed from Japanese and loot and nirvana are borrowed from Hindi. English is an ever-evolving language that is somewhat of a melting pot of other languages and cultures.

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