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"Buenos dias", "buenas noches" -- this was the first words in a foreign language I heard in my life, as a three-year old boy growing up in developing post-war Western Germany, where the first gastarbeiters had arrived from Spain. Fascinated by the strange sounds, I tried to get to know some more languages, the only opportunity being TV courses of English and French -- there was no foreign language education for pre-teen school children in Germany yet in those days. Read more

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Subject: fútbol
Question: Is there a name for words derived from another language, like fútbol from football, that sound like the original, but aren't direct translations? Football would translate roughly to ''bola del pie'' in Spanish. I've been wondering this for a long time. Thank you.

Marc Arndt

Reply: Apart from 'borrowing', the other word you may come across is 'loanword'. All languages take words from other languages to some extent. The words are adapted to various degrees. Some more or less keep their original pronunciation (such as 'je ne sais quoi' and 'loch' in English) while others to the local pronunciation norms (such as 'language' in English). Some words are borrowed with their original spelling (such as 'latte' in English), even if the meaning is a bit differnet from the language from which they came.

The role and history of loanwords is interesting and a great deal has been written about it. Calques are less common ('skyscraper' is an example in English).

Reply From: Anthea Fraser Gupta      click here to access email
Date: 10-Sep-2013
Other Replies:
  1. Re: fútbol    Elizabeth J Pyatt     (05-Sep-2013)
  2. Re: fútbol    James L Fidelholtz     (06-Sep-2013)
  3. Re: fútbol    Madalena Cruz-Ferreira     (05-Sep-2013)

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