Ketchup, toboggan, piranha – do you know which languages these words came from into English? After last week’s discussion about Little Bull, we had a game this week in which we found out where lots of words originated.
Each group of children had a list of languages and words, and had to try to match them up – then sticking the words onto the right country (or region) on a map on the board.
We had animals, foods, clothing – a huge range of words that we now say in English, but which came from countries as far apart as Malaysia, India, Poland, Ireland and Mexico. We even had a couple of words that originally came from Native American languages that Little Bull might have known. For some words, it was hard to guess their origin, others seemed easier. Our map was soon covered with words from across the world, showing that English contains words from a surprising range of countries. So the question was, why would this be the case? Answers we discussed included:
- maybe this is because Britain has been invaded by other countries, and their languages left traces in English
- maybe this is because Britain once had an Empire that expanded across the world, picking up words as it went.
What do you think? Here are the words we mapped, and the languages they were originally from:
- Arabic (giraffe, sofa)
- Turkish (yoghurt, coffee)
- Swahili (safari, jumbo)
- Greek (butter, chorus, feta)
- Central American (chocolate, chilli)
- Polish (horde, gherkin)
- Portuguese (piranha, potato)
- French (cabbage, pastry)
- Urdu (cot, typhoon, bungalow)
- Welsh (trousers, gull)
- Chinese (ketchup, tycoon)
- Irish (hooligan, slogan)
- Hungarian (coach, biro)
- Malay (gong, bamboo)
- Native American (toboggan, moose)
- Persian (jasmine, orange)
- Spanish (hurricane, flamingo)