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Writing Books/English Borrowings


America is often called a "melting pot", and this is reflected in American English as well. A recent survey of the 1,000 most frequently used words in English revealed that only about 60% of them had Old English origins. The other 40% were from foreign sources.

Can you please give me some examples of English borrowings from other languages like French, Latin, Greek, Native American Languages, Spanish, German, Scandinavian Languages, Italian, South Asian Languages (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka), Yiddish, Dutch, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, or Russian.


Your question is one for a specialist in etymology, the study of the origins of words and how they arrived at their current form and meaning. I've read some great columns written by etymologists, and one of the best put his columns together into a book, The Word Detective, by Evan Morris (Algonquin Books). His playful writing style keeps the subject anything but boring. You'll find things like the fact that the word pedigree originated from the French pie de grue, which translates to "crane's foot." I'm sure you wonder how that term relates to the American usage of pedigree, so you'll have to buy the book and look it up on page 149.

The Oxford English Dictionary is the ultimate source for English words and their origins, but the book is gargantuan and expensive. It's available on CD and MP3 as well as print. I found a resource on the Internet that lets you search the Oxford English Dictionary for free, though. Check this out:

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Bobbie Christmas


Book Doctor Bobbie Christmas owns Zebra Communications, a book-editing firm in metro Atlanta. She not only edits books, she also helps writers power up their prose to increase their chances of success. She is the author of Write In Style (Union Square Publishing), a creative-writing guide that won three awards.


Bobbie has spent more than 40 years in the publishing and communications industry and has run Zebra Communications, a book-editing company, since 1992. The editor of many publications and periodicals, she has worked with book publishers and trade magazine publishers as well as working in marketing communications and corporate communications.

Past president, Georgia Writers Association; past vice president, South Carolina Writers Workshop; charter/lifelong member, Florida Writers Association; Southeastern Writers Association; Atlanta Writers Club; Society for the Preservation of English Language and Literature (SPELL); International Guild of Professional Consultants

Write in Style (Union Square Publishing), A Cup of Comfort (Adams Media Corporation), A Cup of Comfort for Friends (Adams Media), A Cup of Comfort for Mothers and Sons (Adams Media), Haunted Engounters (Atriad Press), Remembering Woolworth's (St. Martin's Press), First-Time Home Buyer magazine, HomeBusiness Journal, Apparel Industry Magazine, Edge Magazine, Atlanta Jewish Times, Time Travel Australia, American Writers Review, Points North, That's Entertainment, Atlanta Parent, Agnes Scott Alumnae Magazine, etc.

Journalism: University of South Carolina plus four decades of working in publishing, marketing, communications, advertising, newspaper and magazine production, book publishing, etc.

Awards and Honors
First Place, nonfiction, Georgia Writers Annual Contest, 2005; First Place, education, Royal Palm Literary Award, 2004; Best in Division, Georgia Author of the Year Awards, 2005; Finalist, Best Books 2005, USA BookNews Third Place, nonfiction, Georgia Writers, 1999; Nominated for Georgia Author of the Year, 1998; plus many other awards

Past/Present Clients
Capital Books, Sourcebooks, Olin Frederick, The Writer's Machine, Russell Dean & Company, Outskirts Press, and hundreds of writers.

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