What English words get up to when they’re not at home

My latest article for TheWeek.com is on the changes that happen to English words when they are “borrowed” into other languages:

How foreign languages mutate English words

It comes complete with about three dozen examples – though of course there are many, many more out there…

One response to “What English words get up to when they’re not at home

  1. From the linked article:

    “Tamil also gives us the interesting náram for orange, taken from the original norange, which got changed in English when a norange became an orange.”

    There was no “original norange” in English. The n had already dropped off in Italian, from which it was borrowed into French as orange or orenge in the 1300s, and from there to English in the 1400s. This is all from the OED.

    The n actually got put back onto orange at least once: there’s one cite in the Scottish National Dictionary for nirrange, in the 19th century.

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