Report #1: Lexical borrowing (10%)


Official due date: 29th September in class (student number only, please)

Accepted without penalty until 6th October in class.

(However, if you’d like feedback before you hand in the next report on the 13th, I’ll need it by Monday the 3rd in order to get it back to you in time. Your call.)




1. Pick three words, one from each section. You should check the OED before committing yourself to it, to ensure that there’s enough in the topic to interest and entertain you. You’re welcome to take the risk of choosing your own words – Nevalainen’s descriptive survey has lists of loanwords from Latin, Greek, French, and other European and non-European languages, or you can play with the ‘etymology’ field in the OED’s ‘advanced search’. But please choose soon and please clear it with me first.


2. *Using data from the OED (definitions, quotations, spellings, etc.), describe and interpret the introduction and integration of your loanword into English. You might consider what we can infer from some of the following:


[*The truly obsessive can try a date-restricted word search on EEBO and ECCO for very early instances, but keep things in perspective. If your word is North American, you should also look at a good North American dictionary.]


3. For each word, tell a short (1 page) and plausible tale about its entry into English. Pretend that you are a lexicographer with a popular following: be clear and interesting, but be analytic, interpretive (?), and critical too. Remember that you are the expert on your word, and that it’s helpful for your audience if the separate stages of your argument are over-emphasized and illustrated with memorable illustrative quotations.


4. Put only your student number on each page of your report.




Group A (fairly learned borrowings from Latin or Greek)


Agend(a), aggravate (aggrieve), agriculture, alphabet, analysis, antenna, apostrophe, area, attract, automatic, biological, bureau, circus, compute (count), concert, collate (confer), conflate, construct (construe), contemporary, crisis, cultivate, data, depravity, dictionary, dilemma, distinctive, divide, drama, elastic, electric, euphemism, exit, fluid, frequency, gas, geriatric, gravity, hypothesis, imitate, immaturity, include, inertia, inhabitant, investigate, menstruation, misogyny, navigate, nostalgia, original, panorama, pathos, pauper (poor), philology, pressure, program, propaganda, prosody, rabies, relate (refer), relaxation (relax/ate), resurrect (resurge), secure (sure), spice (species), squalor, stimulus, susceptible, temperature, tract, trauma/tic, veto


Group B: ‘cultural’ loans from French and other European languages


Arcade, aristocrat, balcony, bankrupt, beau, belles lettres, bourgeois, brochure, café, carnival, carte blanche, civilization, connoisseur, coup, décor, depot, derange, disorganization, ennui, envelope, envoy, esprit, essay, etiquette, façade, faux pas, gambit, gauche, genteel, grotesque, influenza, journal, liaison, lottery, macaronic, magazine, malaise, manqué, manoeuvre, melee, melodrama, ménage, mentor, minion, motto, moustache, naïve, ode, opera, pamphlet, passé, piano, picnic, rendezvous, repartee, restaurant, salon, solo, sonnet, soup, souvenir, traffic


Group C: borrowings in a non-European context, mostly


Alligator, amok, barbecue, bazaar, bungalow, canoe, caravan, chocolate, chow, curry, guitar, harem, hashish, horde, jungle, karma, ketchup, loot, maize, mandarin, mantra, Moslem, mumbo jumbo, penguin, potato, pundit, pyjamas, shampoo, sherries, swastika, tea, thug, tobacco, tycoon, verandah


Boss, bush, Canada, caucus, creek, dollar, Eskimo, moose, muskie, prairie, raccoon, riding, shanty, squaw, totem.


Contextualizing your specific topic


Not all loanwords are ‘representative’, of course, but it will be helpful for you to have a sense of what you might find.  You can read about words from Latin, French, and other languages in a variety of places.


“Latin in English” (and other entries). McArthur, Tom, ed., The Oxford companion to the

English language. Oxford UP, 1992. [The Concise is available as an e-book on the library website.]


Nevalainen, Terttu. “Lexis and semantics.” Cambridge history of the English language, Volume III: 1476-1776. Cambridge UP, 1999. [On short-term loan: PE 1072 C36, volume 3.]


Dictionary of Canadianisms on historical principles. Toronto: W.G. Gage, 1967. [PE 3243 D5 in most but not all reference sections.]


Student-authored surveys on borrowing from Latin, French, Spanish, African, etc. from the online encyclopedia:


Lecture notes from the ‘modern’ half of my undergraduate class last year, especially the weeks of January 18th (Latin in English) and February 8th (European and ‘exotic’ languages).