Spelling loanwords in English and other languages

There are lots of reasons why English spelling is like it is (see previous post: http://thespellingblog.blogspot.com/2008/12/5-reasons-why-english-is-so-difficult.html ) but one of them is that when words are borrowed from other languages the English usually retain the spelling.

I have just returned from a trip to Malaysia and was interested to see many English loanwords in Bahasa Malaysian (the Malay language) where the spelling has been changed to reflect their own spelling conventions and in some cases their pronunciation too. So you might ...
• ... go to work by bas
• ... nibble on a biskut
• ...put your car in the garaj
• ... buy a ticket at the kaunter
• ... be late for your English kelas
• ... buy a new komputer
• ... take a mesej for someone
• ... try to understand a sistem
• ... take a teksi
• ... watch televisyen, or
• ... visit a ...

In English, we try to keep the original pronunciation (often failing miserably!) and the original spelling. We even keep accents that we don’t usually use; at least we try, though they do sometimes find themselves sitting on the wrong letter.

I am writing this from a trip around the some Balkan countries and my host informs me that in Slovene and Croatian when English words are used the original spelling is retained, whereas Serbia prefers to keep true to its own spelling conventions so loanword spellings are changed to reflect that.

What about in another language that you know? When words are ‘borrowed’ from other languages, is the spelling altered?

Interesting? You might like these previous posts:

1 comment:

  1. Loanwords are so interesting. They were NEVER mentioned when I was a schoolgirl (some time ago now!) I make a big thing of them these days and also try to draw attention to the letters we often see doubled in English.