Gung ho, Tycoon, Amuck

Asian loan words in English

by Ann-Marie Imbornoni

One of the chief characteristics of English is its teeming vocabulary, an estimated 80% of which has come from other languages! Linguistic borrowing has occurred over many centuries, whenever English speakers have come into contact with other cultures, whether through conquest and colonization, trade and commerce, immigration, leisure travel, or war.

While English has borrowed most heavily from the languages of Europe and the Near East, it has also acquired many loan words from Asia, sometimes through the intermediary of Dutch, the native language of the merchant-sailors who dominated the Spice Islands trade in the 17th century.

Many of these borrowed words no longer seem foreign, having been completely assimilated into English. Some examples are boondocks, gingham, and ketchup. Others are still strongly associated with their country of origin, such as terms for specific "ethnic" dishes or the different schools of martial arts.

Asian Loan Words


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