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The Worlds Top 20 LanguagesAnd The Words English Has Borrowed From Them

Tamil is Indias fifth most spoken language, as well as being one of the official languages of Sri Lanka and Singapore.Catamaran(1697),pariah(1613),poppadum(1820) andpatchouli(1843) are all Tamil words, as iscurry(1598).

Listed herein order by number of native speakersare the worlds top 20 languages (according to Ethnologue, a global catalog of the 7000 languages currently in use worldwide). Alongside each entry on the list are just some of the words which English has borrowed from it.

A version of this story ran in 2014.

The worlds 75 million native French speakers are divided among 51 countries and territories, including 7.3 million in Canada, 4 million in Belgium, and 6 million in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (home to the second largestFrench-speaking populationin the world). Thanks largely to the Norman Conquest, roughly three out of every 10 English words are thought to have French roots, and the trend has continued ever since: English has adopted more loanwords directly from Frenchabsinthe,blancmange,concierge,dauphin,envoi,fte,gourmand,hollandaise,impassethan from any other living language.

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English is known asa magpie languagethat picks up words from almost every other language and culture it comes in contact with, fromAbenakitoZulu. And although some languages have understandably widened the English vocabulary more than others, modern English dictionaries contain more of a geographical melting pot than ever before.

Korean loanwords in English are relatively rare, with none at all recorded by theOEDbefore the 19th century. Among the most familiar arekimchi(1898) andtaekwondo(1967), while rarer examples includekono(a traditional Korean board game, 1895), andkisaeng(the Korean equivalent of a Japanese geisha girl, 1895).

One quarter of the worlds 399 million Spanish speakers live in Mexico, although other importantHispanophone countriesinclude Colombia (41 million), Argentina (38.8 million), and Venezuela (26.3 million); there are almost as many native Spanish speakers in the United States (34.2 million) as there are in Spain (38.4 million). In English, Spanish loanwords are characterized by terms from weaponry and the military (guerrilla,flotilla,armada,machete), animal names (chinchilla,alligator,cockroach,iguana), and terms from food and drink (potato,banana,anchovy,vanilla).

Thefirst recordedAmerican football game was between the colleges of Rutgers and Princeton in 1869 and used uniquerules derivedfrom those in both association andrugby football. Though this new, evolving game would just be calledfootballin the U.S., elsewhere it would become known asgridiron footballorAmerican football, much in the wayGaelic footballandAustralian footballhave their own distinctions. Eventually in England,rugby footballwas shortened to justrugby, whileassociation footballsimply became known asfootball. Which meant that now there were twofootballs, on opposite sides of the Atlantic, and neither side would budge. And Americans would begin referring to Englandsfootballby the previous nickname,soccer.

Despite the confusion nowadays,soccerwas still a colloquial term used in England well into the 20th centuryit rose in popularity following World War II before falling out of favor in the 1970s and 80s, according to Szymanski. In more recent years, its mostly been used in England in a strictly American context, like when publications and the media refer to U.S. leagues like Major League Soccer (MLS). Currently,socceris mostly used in countries that have their own competing version of footballincluding theUnited StatesCanada, andAustralia.

Urdu is the sixth Indian language to make the global top 20, with its worldwide total comprised of 51 million native Indian speakers, a further 10 million in Pakistan, and smaller populations in Nepal and Mauritius. Urdu words have been adopted into English since the fifteenth century, with surprisingly early examples includingmogul(1577),cummerbund(1613), andbungalow(1676). Earliest of all, however, isshraban old Anglo-Indian nickname for an alcoholic beverage, the first record of which in English dates from 1477.

Seventy million of the worlds 78 million native German speakers live in Germany, with the remaining 8 million found in the likes of Austria, Switzerland, Belgium and Luxembourg. As English itself is classed as a Germanic language, historically the two languages share a close relationship and ultimately many of the oldest English words could be argued to have German roots. More recent direct German loanwords, however, includesauerkraut(1633),pumpernickel(1738),doppelgänger(1851), andfrankfurter(1894).

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According to a paper [PDF] by University of Michigan professor Stefan Szymanski, it all began in England in the early 1800s, whena versionof the sport of footballbased on a game played by common people in the Middle Agesfound its way into the recreational scene of some of the countrys most privileged schools. To give uniformity to the competitions between these schools and clubs, a set of standard rules was draftedby studentsin Cambridge in 1848. These rules would become further solidified when they were adopted by the more organized Football Association in 1863.

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Whilemore Americansthan ever are embracing soccer, they cant even get the sports name right, according to some purists. Formostof the world, including the vast majority of Europe and South America, itsfootball,ftbol, or some other variation. In the United States, Canada, Japan, and a few other stragglers, its firmly known assoccer, much to the annoyance of those who cant understand how a sport played with feet and a ball can be called anything else. So why the conflict?

One hundred and thirty-seven million of Russians 166 million native speakers live in the Russian Federation, with smaller populations in Ukraine (8.3 million), Belarus (6.6 million), Uzbekistan (4 million) and Kazakhstan (3.8 million). The earliest Russian loanwords began to appear in English in the 16th century, among themczarortsar(1555),rouble(1557), andbeluga(1591).

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Like Chinese, Arabic is technicallyanother macrolanguagewhose 242 million native speakersspread across 60 different countries worldwideuse a range of different forms and varieties. The first Arabic loanwords in English date from the 14th century, although many of the earliest examples are fairly rare and obsolete words likealkanet(a type of dye, 1343) andhardun(an Egyptianagama lizard, 1398). Among the more familiar Arabic contributions to English arehashish(1598),sheikh(1577), andkebab(1698).

This is the moment in the second half when it appeared that Brazil had scored a goal, but a foul was called. Hlio later makes sure Carlos can see how Neymar covered his face with his shirt.

Brazilian Sign Language interpreter Hlio Fonseca de Arajo woke up on the day before the opening of the World Cup in 2014 thinking about how he could help his friend Carlos, who is deaf and blind, get access to all the excitement. So he hit the hardware store, rigged up a tabletop model of the field, and enlisted his friend Regiane to provide extra interpretation for all the complex information that needs to come through in a game. He recently brought the setup out again for this World Cup.

The worlds 260 million native Hindi speakers are mainly found in India and Nepal, while an estimated 120 million more people in India use Hindi as a second language. As with all Indian languages, a great many Hindi loanwords found in English were adopted duringthe British Rajin the 19th and early 20th centuries, but long before then the likes ofrupee(1612),guru(1613),pilau(1609),pukka(1619),myna(1620) andjuggernaut(1638) had already begun to appear in English texts.

It wasnt long before variations of the sport began to splinter offin 1871, the Rugby Football Union was founded, using Rugby Schoolrulesfrom the 1830s that allowed a player to run with the ball in their hands. This new take on the sport would be known asrugby football, orrugger, to separate itself fromassociation football, the traditional feet-only version of the sport. From there,association footballwould get the nicknameassoccer, leading eventually to justsoccer.The additionof an er at the end of a word was something of a trend at the time, which is why we get theawkward transformationofassociationintoassoccerandsoccer.

According to Ethnologue, the English languages 335 million native speakers include 225 million in the United States, 55 million in the United Kingdom, 19 million in Canada, 15 million in Australia, and just short of 4 million in New Zealand. But English is one of the worlds most widespread languages: mother-tongue speakers are recorded in101 different countries and territoriesworldwide, 94 of which class it as an official language. Moreover, if the number of people who use English as a second language orlingua francawere included, the global total of English speakers would easily rise to over one billion.

While it boils the blood of certain traditionalists,socceris by no means an Americanismlike the sport itself, this is purely an English export.

Sixty-six million of the worlds 70 million Turkish speakers are in Turkey, with smaller populations found in Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, Cyprus, and Kazakhstan. Turkish words in English date back to the 16th century, withvizier(1562),tulip(1578) andcaftan(1591) being among the earliest to arrive.

Java is the most populous island on Earth, home to almost two-thirds of the entire population of Indonesia. More than half of its 139 million inhabitants speak the local Javanese language, enough to earn it a spot just outside of the global top 10 here. The wordsbatik(1880),gamelan(1816) andlahar(a volcanic mudflow, 1929) are all of Javanese origin.

After Hindi, Bengali is the secondmost widely spoken language of Indiawith just over 82 million native speakers. But the largest native Bengali population in the world is found in Bangladesh, where 106 million people use it as their first language. The number of Bengali words adopted into English, however, is relatively small, with only 47 instancesincludingjute(1746),almirah(a free-standing cupboard, 1788), andjampan(a type of sedan chair, 1828)recorded in theOED.

See the entire video at Hlios YouTube channelhere.

Linguistically speaking, Chinese is a macrolanguage that encompasses dozens of different forms and dialects that together have just short of 1.2 billion native speakers. By farthe most widely spoken variety of Chinese, however, is Mandarin, with 848 million speakers aloneor roughly 70 percent of Chinas entire population. According to theOxford English Dictionary, Chinese words have been recorded in English since the mid-16th century, with the earliest examples including the likes oftai chi(1736),ginseng(1634),yinandyang(1671),kumquat(1699) andfeng shui(1797). One of the earliest of all islychee(1588).

And here is Coutinhos game-turning goal for Brazil.

Japans 128 million people comprise the languages entire native speaker population, enough to make it the ninth most widely spoken language in the world. Japanese words have been appearing in English texts since the 16th century, with some of the earliest loanwords includingkatanaandwacadash(both types of samurai sword, 1613),miso(1615),shogun(1615), andsake(1687).

Lahnda is the collective name given to a group of related Punjabi languages and dialects spoken predominantly in Pakistan. Punjabi words adopted into English are rare, but nevertheless includebhangra(a local traditional dance form and music style, 1965), andgurdwara(a Sikh temple, 1909).

The population of Portugal is just under 11 million, but the globalLusophonepopulation isboosted enormouslyby Brazils 187 million native speakers. Etymologically, Portuguese and Spanish loanwords are often tricky to differentiate because of the similarities between the two languages, but according to theOED, Portuguese is responsible for the likes ofmarmalade(1480),pagoda(1582),commando(1791),cuspidor(1779), andpiranha(1710).

Here you can see Carlos watching the Brazil vs. Croatia match live, while Hlio provides Brazilian Sign Language interpretation (which Carlos follows by feeling it with his own handsthis is calledtactile signing), and Regiane relays information about fouls, cards, times, and player jersey numbers withsocial-haptic communicationon Carloss back.

The Worlds Top 20 LanguagesAnd The Words English Has Borrowed From Them

TheOEDrecords just 14 Vietnamese loanwords in English, the earliest of which is the name of the Vietnamese currency,dông(1824). Among the handful of others ispho(a traditional Vietnamese soup, 1935),ao dai(a womans high-necked tunic, 1961), and bothhaoandxu(1968), the names for one-tenth and one-hundredth of adông,respectively.

Telugu and Marathi are Indias third and fourth most used languages, with just over 74 and just short of 72 million native speakers, respectively. Neither is responsible for a great many English loanwords, however, and the vast majority of those that have found their way into the language tend to be fairly rare and unfamiliar, likedesai(a revenue office or a petty thief, from Marathi, 1698),chawl(an Indian lodging house, from Marathi, 1891), andpodu(an area of jungle cleared for farming, from Telugu 1938). By far the most well known isbandicoot, which isthought to literally meanpig-rat in Telugu.

If youre wondering why Carlos occasionally looks at the screen, many deaf blind people have some residual sight (or hearing). Many deaf-blind people become fluent in sign language as deaf people, before they begin to lose their sight.


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