Words from Other Countries

America really is a melting pot. The United States is filled with people who either came from other countries or are descended from people who did. Because of this, the English language is a mixture of words from all sorts of backgrounds and cultures. This makes the English language special. But all these different backgrounds and cultures also make it difficult to learn to spell a great variety of words in the English language. The rest of this chapter will focus on Latin, French, and Spanish because many English words were originally words in one of these three languages.

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Words in the Kitchen

Can you think of any words that originally came from other languages? Here's a hint: think about food. Many types of food are still known by their foreign names, like borscht (a Slavic soup made of beets), carne (the Spanish word for meat), and sushi (Japanese balls of rice that are often wrapped with seaweed, vegetables, and fish).

Can you think of any words that originally came from other languages? Here's a hint: think about food. Many types of food are still known by their foreign names, like borscht (a Slavic soup made of beets), carne (the Spanish word for meat), and sushi (Japanese balls of rice that are often wrapped with seaweed, vegetables, and fish).

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Back from the Dead

See if you can find another dead language. And here's a bonus point — see if there are any words in that language that we use in today's speech.

See if you can find another dead language. And here's a bonus point — see if there are any words in that language that we use in today's speech.

However, there are many other languages that have left their mark on English. Have you ever heard of karate or manga? Both are Japanese words that are commonly used in English today. Karate is a form of self-defense, and manga are a type of comics. Has anyone ever said “Gesundheit!” to you after you sneezed? That's a German wish for good health. Have you ever heard someone describe something that's not real as phony? That comes from the Irish word for ring. Merchants used to sell rings that were not worth as much as they sold them for. People started using the word for ring to describe anything that was fake.

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