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Do you like finding hidden treasure? Perhaps you enjoy a bit of archaeology or other types of snooping and sleuthing? Do you think it’s cool to look at foreign money, or stamps, or other stuff that’s travelled a long way? I do, and I’ve found an endless source for all of these things:
WORDS! Language, the stuff we use everyday.
For years I never thought much about words. They were just there. I didn’t much care where they came from. But now I think about them a lot. I never knew how many words were immigrants from somewhere else. Words get around, I mean it!
I speak English most days. It’s classified as a Germanic language. It has its roots in the same stuff as German and many other northern European languages. If you listen to some of them, you can hear words that sound familiar. Dutch is great for that. In Dutch, a knee is, well, a knee (pronounced k-nee). We say no, Swedes say nej, and Germans say nein. If you’ve ever talked about kindergarten, ordered a hamburger or a frankfurter with sauerkraut you’ve been speaking some German words. You’re speaking a foreign language, and you might not have even known!
But, we also have picked up words from the Romance languages, too. Those are the languages like French, Spanish and Italian that came from Latin. Toilet is a from a French word. So are adolescent, admire, defect, defend, timid, tissue, voyage, and vulture. Pizza, and spaghetti are Italian, you probably knew that. Did you know that balcony, carpet, pistol and zany are also? We eat tacos, I like them a lot! That’s of course a Spanish word. But, so are bronco, chocolate, and hurricane. As a matter of fact, a lot of those words came from somewhere else, too – a lot of them are actually words from the Arabic language. That just blows me away!
We all are using words every day that have travelled a long way for a long time – starting out in Africa, or Europe, or India, and making their way to our homes after being on the road for 1000 years. That’s pretty cool.
Adios for now, comrades!