Thursday, October 1, 2009

Where Do Words Come From?

Etymology is the study of word derivation (where words come from). Did you know that the English Language has many words but it has also ‘stolen’ many words from other languages? After all, why make up a new word for something when someone else has already done it. Here is a short story which highlights where those words originally came from.

Balaclava- wearing vampires

The vampire ( Serbian) in a balaclava ( Ukrainian) sat in a coach ( Hungarian), using a biro( Hungarian) to tot up his bridge ( Russian) score while the sleazy( Latvian) Cossack (Ukrainian) waved his sabre ( Hungarian) at the cravat (Croatian) – wearing cosmonaut ( Russian); the robot( Czech) shot a horde(Polish) of mammoths (Russian) with a pistol(Czech). They all retired to a bistro (Russian) to talk (Lithuanian) and eat some pastrami (Romanian).

Can you find some words from your own language that have been incorporated into the English Language? If you are a mother tongue speaker you could choose a different country. List the words in the comment section below. We would like to make a collection of these for the classrooms and see how many we can find by the end of the year.

Happy hunting!


  1. In England in many villages names ends in by, that in danish means village, Grimsby is named after a danish viking called grim who found the village.

  2. A Danish comes from the word wienerbrød in Denmark,which means a cake espacilly a round cake with cinneman or chocolate on the top

  3. Travelling TeacherOctober 5, 2009 at 1:39 AM

    James, This is an amazing list! Well done indeed.

  4. Travelling TeacherOctober 5, 2009 at 1:56 AM

    Anna, how interesting! Thanks for sharing.

  5. Travelling TeacherOctober 5, 2009 at 1:59 AM

    Well done Emelia. Thank you for your contribution.

  6. Travelling TeacherOctober 5, 2009 at 2:04 AM

    This is a good list Marissa.Well done.
    Can you research further to find words that have come from another language and are now used in English, e.g. algebra is from arabic.

  7. Travelling TeacherOctober 5, 2009 at 2:07 AM

    Gosh, it seems very difficult to pronounce! Thanks for your interesting contribution.

  8. Travelling TeacherOctober 5, 2009 at 2:25 AM

    Grazie per your contribution Candida. Well done.