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Classification of borrowings according to the borrowed aspect




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Borrowed words in the English vocabulary

Borrowing words from other languages has been characteristic of English throughout its history. More than two thirds of the English vocabulary are borrowings. Mostly they are words of Romanic origin (Latin, French, Italian, Spanish). Borrowed words are different from native ones by their phonetic structure, by their morphological structure and also by their grammatical forms. It is also characteristic of borrowings to be non-motivated semantically.

English history is very rich in different types of contacts with other countries, that is why it is very rich in borrowings. The Roman invasion, the adoption of Christianity, Scandinavian and Norman conquests of the British Isles, the development of British colonialism and trade and cultural relations served to increase immensely the English vocabulary. The majority of these borrowings are fully assimilated in English in their pronunciation, grammar, spelling and can be hardly distinguished from native words.

English continues to take in foreign words, but now the quantity of borrowings is not so abundant as it was before. All the more so, English now has become a giving language, it has become a lingua franca of the 21-st century.

Borrowings can be classified according to different criteria: a) according to the aspect which is borrowed, b) according to the degree of assimilation, c) according to the language from which the word was borrowed.

In the classification given below only the main languages from which words were borrowed into English are described, such as Latin, French, Italian, Spanish, German and Russian.

 

There are the following groups: phonetic borrowings, translation loans, semantic borrowings, morphemic borrowings.

Phonetic borrowings are the most characteristic in all languages, they are called loan words proper. Words are borrowed with their spelling, pronunciation and meaning. Then they undergo assimilation, each sound in the borrowed word is substituted by the corresponding sound of the borrowing language. In some cases the spelling is changed. The structure of the word can also be changed. The position of the stress is very often influenced by the phonetic system of the borrowing language. The paradigm of the word, and sometimes the meaning of the borrowed word are also changed. Such words as: labour, travel, table, chair, people are phonetic borrowings from French; apparatchik, nomenclature, bolshevik, activist, Soviet, sputnik are phonetic borrowings from Russian; bank, soprano, duet are phonetic borrowings from Italian etc.



Translation loans are word-for-word (or morpheme-for-morpheme) translations of some foreign words or expressions. In such cases the notion is borrowed from a foreign language but it is expressed by native lexical units: to take the bull by the horns (Latin), fair sex (French), living space (German), collective farm (Russian) etc. Some translation loans appeared in English from Latin already in the Old English period, e.g. Sunday (solis dies). There are translation loans from the languages of Indians, such as: pipe of peace, pale-faced, from German: masterpiece, homesickness, superman.
Semantic borrowings are such units when a new meaning of the unit existing in the language is borrowed. It can happen when we have two relative languages which have common words with different meanings, e.g. there are semantic borrowings between Scandinavian and English, such as the meaning to live for the word to dwell which in Old English had the meaning to wander. Or else the meaning дар, подарок for the word gift which in Old English had the meaning выкуп за жену.
Semantic borrowings can appear when an English word was borrowed into some other language, developed there a new meaning and this new meaning was borrowed back into English, e.g. brigade was borrowed into Russian and acquired the meaning a working collective, бригада. This meaning was borrowed back into English as a Russian borrowing. The same is true of the English word pioneer.

Morphemic borrowings are borrowings of affixes which occur in the language when many words with identical affixes are borrowed from one language into another, so that the morphemic structure of borrowed words becomes familiar to the people speaking the borrowing language, e.g. we can find a lot of Romanic affixes in the English word-building system, that is why there are a lot of words-hybrids in English where different morphemes have different origin, e.g. goddess (native root + Romanic suffix –ess), beautiful (French root + English suffix –ful), uneatable (English prefix un- + English root + Romanic suffix –able) etc.

 





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