Now the most widely spoken language in the world, English in its first forms (which we might refer to as “Old English”) was spoken in early medieval England by Anglo-Saxon settlers. Considered a West Germanic language, English is actually a mix of varied dialects, and many of the words and phrases we use today are pulled from different cultures and Romance languages. Here, a glimpse at some common English words and their international origins.
Short for “respondez, sil vous plait” in French, it means “respond, if you please”—you’ve likely seen it on every party invitation you’ve received.
From German, this word literally translates to “gaudy” or “trash.” We’ve adopted it to mean something that is antiquated or tacky.
A staple in American households, the word shampoo is actually derived from the Hindu word champna, which means to press or knead the muscles. It later became synonymous with “wash the hair,” and eventually turned into the product with which we do so.
Taken from Chinese, the phrase became popular with a World War II U.S. guerrilla unit operating in the Pacific. It comes from the Chinese kung ho.
Actually a Turkish word, it was introduced to the English language around the 1600s as a mispronunciation of the existing Turkish word, yogurt, in which the “g” is silent.
A Yiddish word, schlep actually comes from the German word schleppen, which means “to drag.”
There are plenty of other English words out there that take their cues from other countries… tell us your favorites in the comments below!