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Tuesday Trivia - Borrowing and Loaning

In response to a recent question, today we are going to revisit the concept of borrowing and loan words. Back on September 14th, I posted about a discussion of borrowing and loaning that we had discussed in LIC, but I think it's time that we delve a little deeper into the situation. Any time that two languages come into contact, there is the possibility that one, the other, or both speakers of the languages will participate in the process of borrowing or loaning. Definitions....ok....a borrowing is a word that is taken from a second language (L2) into the first language (L1) for use from time to time. The key to borrowing is that, the borrowed word is not ingrained into the speech of the L2 speaker. When a borrowing becomes a permanent fixture of L2, it becomes a loan word. Take a second, read that, and let that soak in...........................................................very important concept.................

Ok! Are you understanding? If you've got it, then we'll move on. There are often various motivations for borrowing. We're going to talk about prestige, because it's the easiest to understand. If you are a member of a subordinated community and speak L2 and are surrounded by a dominant community speaking a dominant language L1, it is most likely that you will borrow words and eventually speech patterns from L1 into L2 in order to gain prestige. It is usually unlikely that borrowing occurs in the opposite direction. Remember that prestige isn't the only reason that borrowing occurs, but it's the easiest to illustrate. Often times, a type of borrowing occurs, called a calque, in which only the "idea" of the L1 word or phrase is borrowed, but it is placed into L2 with native morphemes (words as far as most are concerned).

Often times, borrowing occurs in situations where one language doesn't have the same concept as another. Let me give an example and then explain. English has borrowed the French word entourage (from the verb entourer - to surround). The English and the French word mean nearly the exact same thing....a group of people or things that surrounds someone or something. I think that by explaining the definition, I proved my point. We have to use that whole phrase " a group of people....etc." to explain one word. The one word does the job! A few more examples, and we'll stick to French for the moment. You know that thing that happens when you see something and you think you've seen it before? D�j� vu! What does that mean in French....already saw...literally. What about soir�e? This one is not quite a direct borrowing, but it's close. The French word soir means evening, and we've adopted soir�e in English to mean a fancy party held in the evening. It works out pretty well! We'll get into the concepts of codeswitching and diglossia another time now that we know about loans and borrowing

Published Oct 11 2005, 01:28 PM by christophergreen
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