Englishing Non-European Words

My last post focussed on words that are formed within English from other English words with non-English origins. I mostly concentrated on European donor languages, because they make up the overwhelming majority, and show the most variation. But English Englishes wherever it goes, and non-European languages have contributed plenty of English words over the years.

Many of these words will remain exotic, on the barely-Englished periphery of the language (the same is true of European sources: when is the last time you discussed Verfremdungseffekt with your friends? Yes, it is there in OED3), but some are destined to enter the mainstream, and one way to measure this is by comparing the number of new English words it engenders.

The most frequent (OED3 contains frequency data borrowed from Google Books) of these are mainly adjectives formed from proper nouns, usually for groups associated with the donor language (either the speakers themselves, or an intermediary contact group). According to the OED3 data, they are: Japanese (from Japan < Malay), Jewish (fr. Jew < Hebrew), Islamic (fr. Islam < Arabic and Turkish), Buddhist/Buddhism (fr. Buddha < Skt), Caribbean (fr. Carib < Cariban), Hinduism (fr. Hindu < Urdu and Persian).

These aren’t particularly interesting, I don’t think, nor is there much to be made of their relative frequencies. So below, for fun, I’ve selected 5 Englished derivatives from among the top quartile or so for each of OED3’s non-European language groups:

African Languages

Derivative English WordOriginal English WordDonor Language
mumbomumbo-jumbo Mandinka
safari, v.safari, n. Swahili (from Arabic)
zombiedzombieWest African
marimbulamarimba Kimbundu

Australian Languages

Derivative English WordOriginal English WordDonor Language
boomerang, v.boomerang, n.Aus. Aboriginal
rookangarooAus. Aboriginal
dingo, v.dingo, n.Aus. Aboriginal
kangaroo, v.kangaroo, n.Aus. Aboriginal
billy-canbillyAus. Aboriginal

Austronesian Languages

Derivative English WordOriginal English WordDonor Language
taboo, v.taboo, n.Tongan
rattan, v. rattan, n.; rotan, n.Malay

Central and East Asian

Derivative English WordOriginal English WordDonor Language
tea-shop, tea-chest, tea man, etc..teaChinese
Chinaman, China-clay, china-mania, chinagraph, etc.ChinaChinese
japan, v.JapanChinese

New World (Indigenous, Pigins and Creoles)

Derivative English WordOriginal English WordDonor Language
totemic, totemist, totemitetotemOjibwa
barbeque, v., BBQ, barbybarbecue, n.Carib

Indian Subcontinent

Derivative English WordOriginal English WordDonor Language
shampoo, v.shampoo, n.Hindi
pepper, v., peppermintpepper, n.Indo-Aryan
pundit, v.pundit, n.Sanskrit
jungle, v.jungle, n.Marathi

Middle Eastern/Afro-Asiatic

Derivative English WordOriginal English WordDonor Language
sugar, v., sugary, sugared, sugarless, etc.sugar, n.Arabic (also Persian, Sanskrit)
crimson, n.crimson, v.Arabic
alkaline, Alka-Seltzer, etc.alkaliArabic

And finally, according to my data, the 5 borrowed words with non-European origins that have given rise to the most new English words:

Lexical Progenitivity

LoanwordEnglish Derivatives
alkali (Arabic) 26alkaliferous, alkalous, alkali, alkalimetric, alkalimeter, alkalimetry, alkalimetrical, alkalify, alkaligenous, alkaligen, alkaline, alkalic, alkalaemia, alkalescent, alkalamide, alkalotic, alkalosis, alkaloid, alkathene, alkalious, Alka-Seltzer, alkalied, alkamine, alkalize, alkalized, alkalide
orange (Arabic-Perian-Sanskrit) 24orange tree, orange skin, orange fly, oranged, orange colour, orange-yellow, orangey, orange flower, orange peel, oranger, orange-red, orange-tawny, orange tip, orange pekoe, orange leaf, orange-bellied, orangequit, orange blossom, orangeado, orangeade, orangish, Orangeman, orange pill, orange-coloured
alcohol (Arabic) 23alky, alkyd, alcoholiday, alcoholometric, alcoometrical, alcogel, alcoholimetric, alcohometer, alcoholometry, alcometer, alcoholysis, alcoholic, alcoholate, alcoate, -al, alcoholized, alcoholmeter, alcoholometer, alcoholize, alcosol, alc., alcoholism, alcoholist
pepper (Indo-Aryan) 21pepperer, pepperish, pepper-quern, pepper tree, pepperpot, pepperwort, peppery, pepper-water, pepperwood, pepper gas, pepper, pepper-and-salt, pepperbox, pepper castor, pepper spray, pepperbush, peppermint, pepperette, peppergrass, pep, peppernut
quina (Quecha) 17quinizarin, quinogen, quiniferous, quinide, quinimetry, quinology, quinotannate, quinoyl, quinoidine, quinol, quinologist, quinone, quinotannic, quinamine, quinate, quinic, quinia

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