This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Nuts and Bolts: mongrels.

If you ask someone if they're English, and they are, then ten to one they'll immediately qualify it by saying oh, but I've got an American/Egyptian/Angolan/Inuit grandfather/godmother/parrot.

Yes, the English are almost compulsively mongrel - and so, of course, is our language.

For instance:

the word hammock comes from the Taino word hamaka, from the Caribbean.

Yabber (meaning to talk) comes from Australia.

Jukebox comes from Africa.

Alcohol comes from Arabia.

Typhoon comes from China.

Jute comes from India.

Gingham comes from Malaya.

Tundra comes from the Arctic.

And chocolate comes from South America. (Hurray!)

And do I want the British Government to set up a committee to invent properly English words and exclude all the odd untidy borrowings from all over the place?

No, no, no!

Because being mongrel is serendipitous, joyous and terrific!

Word To Use Today: mongrel. This word isn't all that English, either. It comes from a Germanic language and probably originally meant mix.

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