How is Folk Etymology Affecting the English Language

M G Singh By M G Singh, 31st May 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Languages

Etymology is defined as 'History of a word'. A further derivative of this word is Folk Etymology. It means a foreign or unfamiliar word which is adapted to a more familiar form through usage in a language. Folk Etymology in English language is an ongoing process that is prevalent for the last 1000 years

A Global and Resilent Language

Introduction
Etymology is defined as 'History of a word'. A further derivative of this word is Folk Etymology. It means a foreign or unfamiliar word which is adapted to a more familiar form through usage in a language. Folk Etymology in English language is an ongoing process that is prevalent for the last 1000 years. In this process foreign words have been assimilated in the English language through popular usage.
Development of English Language
The English language belongs to the Indo European group of languages. It is widely spoken all over the world. It is a matter for research that a language spoken by a few Anglo Saxons has become the Lingua Franca of the world. One of the reasons for this is the assimilation of foreign words through the process of folk etymology. Since the time William the Conqueror landed in England in 1066, the English language has been constantly adopting words from other languages. There is no estimate as to how many words have been assimilated in the English language; because many of the words added to English have lost their original meaning. The English language has developed for a thousand years to reach its present state as the main language of communication, research, trade and business all over the world.
The Rise to Eminence
The process to reach this pre-eminent position commenced in the 10th century when the Anglo-Saxon language became pre-eminent in England. Prior to this the process of folk etymology had commenced with the assimilation of Celtic words in the English language. The process of folk etymology accelerated with the domination of England all over the world. The wars in France saw more French words being adopted in the English language. Much before French words were added to the English language, Greek and Latin were adopted. This was a process of folk etymology. A big hand was played by the British Empire where the adage 'The sun never sets on the British Empire' greatly added to assimilation of new words in the English language
Global Language
The words in most cases were given a different spelling and also sometimes had a different meaning. A steady stream of words now flowed into the English language. As England expanded its frontiers, more and more words entered the English vocabulary. English speaking pioneers added new words to the language over a period of time. It is now acknowledged that over 120 languages have enriched the English language as it exists today. There is no language in the world that can boast this sort of assimilation. One of the reasons for the spread of English all over the globe is the resilience of the language. It readily allowed foreign words to be assimilated in it. When, the British colonized India, many words from local languages and dialects, like Hindi found their way into the English language. Words like Guru, Kafir, Raja, Rani, Yogi Etc became part of folk etymology. Folk etymology is also known as popular etymology. In a nutshell it means that a word is incorporated in the language.

Tags

Development English Language, English Language, Etymology, Folk Etymology

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author avatar M G Singh
A man who spent his early years in Air Force. An avid writer with over 6000 articles and 60 short stories published.Two novels on the anvil for publication.

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Comments

author avatar Steve Kinsman
31st May 2014 (#)

A really interesting and informative post Madan. Thank you.

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author avatar M G Singh
1st Jun 2014 (#)

Thank you Steve

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author avatar cnwriter..carolina
1st Jun 2014 (#)

yes as Steve says most interesing and nformative...many thanks Madan

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author avatar M G Singh
1st Jun 2014 (#)

Thanks Carolina

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
1st Jun 2014 (#)

Interesting post Madan. English language is resilient and welcoming unlike others like French and Japanese, for example. If every scientific term is translated into various languages it will be a losing proposition. And with the spread of internet the language gets enriched by the day - though I am not sure about the sms lingo! siva

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author avatar M G Singh
1st Jun 2014 (#)

Siva, welcome

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author avatar Pollyal
1st Jun 2014 (#)

very information .. thanks for sharing

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author avatar M G Singh
1st Jun 2014 (#)

Thanks poliyal

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author avatar Randhir Bechoo
1st Jun 2014 (#)

Interesting share.

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
1st Jun 2014 (#)

Isn't it fascinating, the power of the English language. I would also add something - this way it was used by India and other places as a common unification language against British rule.

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author avatar M G Singh
2nd Jun 2014 (#)

Yes, yes Peter. You are so right. Even now it is associate official language and a great unifying force in India which has 450 million knowing English and another 400 million familiar with it.

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author avatar Ptrikha
2nd Jun 2014 (#)

We have American English, Canadian English, NewZealand English and even an official Indian English and it is amazing!

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author avatar micheal
2nd Jun 2014 (#)

I was spell bound by your spelling, well done my friend very interesting :)

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author avatar M G Singh
2nd Jun 2014 (#)

Thank you Micheal

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author avatar Kingwell
2nd Jun 2014 (#)

Excellent post my friend!

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author avatar M G Singh
3rd Jun 2014 (#)

Thanks Kingwell

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
3rd Jun 2014 (#)

No better way to showcase politics than through use of language.

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author avatar M G Singh
3rd Jun 2014 (#)

Thanks Phyl

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author avatar Retired
6th Jun 2014 (#)

informative and intersting post Madan... keep sharing..

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author avatar M G Singh
7th Jun 2014 (#)

Thanks Anu for commenting

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