Archive for English

How many languages did the English language “borrow” from?

Shocking to hear that English is not as “authentic” as you thought it was?

In fact, there are probably more than hundreds of words from other at least 146 different languages.

In this article to show you some common English words that was loaned from other languages and how did it happened.

As the second most popular language of our time, the English language is notorious for borrowing words from almost every language on the face of the earth. From indigenous African languages like Swahili to popular languages such as Spanish and Mandarin, the English language is known to loan words from almost every culture it comes into contact with. In its earliest days of evolution, English was made of dialects spoken by Germanic settlers to include Mercian, Kentish, Northumbrian, and West Saxon.

As the days went by, the English language grew rapidly, borrowing over 400 words from Latin and a few from Greek during the earliest days of Christianity. Some of the historical events that happened afterward continued to revolutionize the language to the English we have today. Even though the old English (Anglo-Saxon) appears unintelligible to modern-day English speakers, at least half of the words in modern English have old English roots.

While the English language has borrowed from almost any language, there are those that it has heavily borrowed from. The English words from these cultures are universally accepted and contribute a significant percentage in the composition of the language. Here are the top languages that the English language has borrowed from.

French origin.

Even though studies differ, a survey by Joseph M. Williams (1986) shows that at least 41% of the words used in modern day English originates from French. The study was conducted by analyzing a list of ten thousand words derived from over a thousand business letters. The French language is known to borrow from Latin, Gaulish, and other Germanic languages. Most of the French vocabulary used in English today has been imported over the centuries from the Normans conquest in 1066.

During this era, William the Conqueror led his army to conquer the whole of England, hence bringing in the influence of the Norman French and culture to the Anglo-Saxon English. Also, the influence of France on Europe during the Renaissance period had a significant impact on bringing into contact the English language and French.

The English words with a French origin include Abandon, abase, artiste, ascertain, aspirant, baboon, bailey, baleen, cabinet, cabaret, chemist, compose, among many others.

Anglo-Saxon origin.

In his book, “Origins of the English Language” Joseph M. Williams identifies 33% of the English language to be made of words with an Anglo-Saxon or native origin. The original speakers of Anglo-Saxon, commonly known as old English, consisted of three tribes to include the Saxons, the Angles, and the Jutes. The dialects from each of these tribes played a part in the formation of the Anglo-Saxon language which was spoken in parts of Scotland and England between the 5th and 12th centuries.

According to Collinsdictionary.com, the English words with an Anglo-Saxon origin tend to be short with either one or two syllables. Also, they relate to areas such as animals, the human body, family and relationships, weather, farming, landscape features, colors, and human activities. Examples include abide, back, bird, blood, chicken, daughter, daft, each, keen, queen, quick, nail, rag, say, thank, udder, vat, wag, yard, among others.

Latin origin.

In the “Origins of the English Language,” Latin is said to contribute at least 15% of the borrowed words. The influence of Latin to the evolution of the English language started in 1066 when the Normans invaded England. The Norman French was a Romance language with deep roots in Latin. This means that some of the words used in Norman French had a Latin origin, and were later loaned to the English language.

There was also a direct influence of Latin to the English language when the Romans invaded England in 43AD. The introduction of Christianity and the adoption of Latin as the official language of the church further broadened the influence to the English language. Given that Latin, French, Italian, Roman, Spanish, and Portuguese are some words are shared across all these languages and have been borrowed into English.

Some of the English words with a Latin origin include conflation from conflationem, delete from deletus, elicit from elicitus, infelicity from infelicitus, among many others.

Old Norse origin.

According to Joseph M. Williams, the English language borrows 5% of its words from the Old Norse, a North Germanic language spoken by the inhabitants of Scandinavia during the 9th to 13th century. The Old Norse language had three dialects to include the Old West Norse, Old East Norse, and the Old Gutnish. The interaction between the Scandinavians and the old English speakers brought some of the Old Norse vocabularies to the English language.

Some of the English words with Old Norse origin include bark, bask, gawk, skip, thwart, girth, cake, awe, irk, oaf, kid, ugly, scant, weak, among others.

Dutch origin.

The Dutch language is said to contribute at least 1 % of the borrowed words in the English Language. Like English, the Dutch is a West Germanic language and shares a lot of similar characteristics with the Romance languages. At least one-third of the Norman invaders was of the Dutch origin and stayed in England after the conquest thus influencing the English language.

The English words borrowed from Dutch include cookie from koekie, boss from baas, Yankee from Jan-Kees, Pump from Pomp, Waffle from Wafel, Wagon from Wagen, Cruise from Kruisen, among many others.

Others.

Five percent of the borrowed words in the English language come from a combination of other languages apart from the one mention above. According to mental floss, some of the languages that have a significant influence on the development of the English language include Spanish, Hindi, Bengali, Mandarin, Korean, Turkish, Arabic, and Vietnamese.

Additional studies.

Another computerized survey by Oxford dictionary and published by Thomas Finkenstaedt and Dieter Wolff in 1973 shows that French and Latin have the highest contribution to the English language followed by Dutch and Old Norse. The Greek Language is another major contributor with other languages only contributing six percent.

Up to date, English is one of the languages with most borrowed words and as Philip Durkin, the deputy chief editor of the Oxford English Dictionary notes, English has evolved to become a language with a global outreach.

English classes for adults. Where to find them in Singapore?

English teacher at blackboardThere are English classes in Singapore. But you will see that classes for children are most heavily promoted.

What if you are an adult, and want to improve your English? Where to go?

You can find all of the classes mentioned below in our directory. Just go to http://yago.sg/directory/english and select the options to filter.

But which class is good for you? In this article, I’ll cover the most common options:

  1. Full-time English classes
  2. Evening / weekend classes with subsidy
  3. Evening / weekend classes without subsidy

1. Full-time English classes

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Where to learn English in Singapore?

Business meeting

Speak English well and be confident in your next business meeting

Are you trying to find out where to learn English in Singapore, for yourself or someone else? This article is meant to provide a starting point.

There isn’t really one best place to learn English in Singapore. It depends on your situation and what you want to achieve.

Below are a few questions to ask yourself. Depending on the answer, I will have recommendations for you, which you can use when going through the English directory on Yago, which has a ton of options to choose from: http://yago.sg/directory/english.

Many people I speak to who ask me about English courses, are asking for a relative, friend or foreign spouse. But to keep things simple, I’ll use “You” to refer to the student in this article.

Do you have time to learn full-time?

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English course fees in Singapore

Notes of 100 SGDBefore you can make a decision on whether to study in Singapore, you will need need to do some budgeting. And a big part of your budget will be spent on course fees. In this post, I will give you an idea of what kind of monthly cost you can expect.

I will also break down the various course related expenses, so that you won’t have any nasty surprises!

(I’m sure cost of living in Singapore is also on your mind, I’ll write about that soon and link to it from this article).

So how much does it cost per month to study English in Singapore?

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Study English in Singapore: How much time do I need?

Open book in hands, being leafed through quickly.This is a question we often hear. The answer depends all on your personal situation. Here are a the main questions that will help you decide how long you need.

1. What is your English level now and where do you want to reach?

If you’ve done an IELTS test, this is pretty easy to determine. The general rule of thumb is that to increase your IELTS score by one full point, you need about one month. So if you score IELTS 5.0 now and need to reach 7.0, you will need two months.

2. What is your pace of learning?

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4 tips to Improve English Language Online

Frustrated student looking up to a book

Don’t rely on books alone to improve your English

Even if you’ve got everything it takes to excel in academics, you may simply fail to perform due to your lack of verbal or written English skills. It’s never too late to make a new start with a bang. Lim Chuwei from Champion Tutor shares advice on how you can master English Language by using online resources.

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How JW Marriott Kuala Lumpur came to pay for my flight ticket

You’re used to find only posts related to language learning in this blog, but I had to share this. It’s a good story, and in a strange way, it relates to languages. How? Read on.

View from our window at JW Marriott Kuala Lumpur

This was the view from our room.

Back in 2004, I was an exchange student at National University of Singapore. I had 5 months to study business in Singapore, and get to see Asia. Like for most exchange students, the latter was my priority. So when my University friend came to see me, we took off for a few days to Tioman Island.

Now, I loved Tioman, but it was a bit too simple for my friend. He’s since become a bit more humble, but at that time he just loved to stay in 5-star hotels. So he called a few hotels in KL and found a good last-minute rate at the JW Marriott Kuala Lumpur. I think we paid about a hundred dollars a night.

That same day, we were on the bus to K.L.

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IELTS Writing tip: Useful Phrases for the Writing paper – Part 2

Yellow Taxi in Singapore

“These days, traffic congestion is an ever increasing problem in many countries”

I mentioned in my previous post that it is good to memorize some writing phrases for the IELTS Writing paper. As an IELTS writing tip to you, I’d like to share some practical examples of this.

To begin your Writing Task 2 essay

Let’s start with Writing Task 2 first. There are a few common types of questions in this Task. Yet for each type you’re most likely asked to deal with a social topic which is of current interest. Because of this, it is possible to start the essay with a sentence that includes a generic phrase. Some examples of this include:

“These days, NOUN PHRASE is an ever increasing problem in many countries.”

You can fill in the noun phrase to create sentences like these:

“These days, traffic congestion is an ever-increasing problem in many countries.”

“These days, obesity is an ever-increasing problem in many countries.”

Or take this generic phrase:

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IELTS Writing Paper: Is it OK to memorize useful phrases? – Part 1

Girl studying for IELTSIf you’re taking the IELTS exam, you would probably agree that the most difficult paper is the Writing paper. You may be able to carry out a conversation with others decently in spoken English yet still find writing a challenge. This is because when it comes to writing, grammatical accuracy is hugely important.

The problem for most students taking the IELTS is that their grammar is far from where it should be. And very often, students only have a month or two before sitting for the exam. This is especially so for those taking the General Training paper for migration purposes or those sitting for the Academic paper for postgraduate studies.

Add to this the fact that one’s grammar is not something that can be easily transformed within a short period of time and we’ll start to understand the difficulties involved in getting a credible score for the Writing paper.

With the above context in mind, what would be the best way for you to prepare for the IELTS Writing paper?

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Essential Life Skills: is your child learning them?

Businessman in suitAre your kids missing out on the three top life skills? 

Do you remember how you learnt the three top life skills?
Those three skills being financial management, cooking and social etiquette (including grooming). If you could give yourself a grade in these areas what would it be?  

Financial Management
Think about your financial story – how did you learn this crucial skill?

When I was growing up I was a Brownie (the younger arm of the Girl Guide Movement) and I took the Thrift Badge which aimed to teach financial skills. I remember having to keep a savings account to show how I could save money, and also show how I cared for the things I owned. This was probably financial management at its most simplest and today is woefully inadequate.

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