How international is English? Over the centuries the English language has assimilated words and phrases from a variety of other languages.
Here are 5 common words that have different origins.
Veranda/Verandah: A sheltered gallery or terrace attached to a house or some other building. The word began to appear in the English language early in the 18th century. In Hindi, the word varanda has a similar meaning. This is not the source of the word, however, as it is thought to derive from the Portuguese word varanda meaning a balcony.
Kudos: An ancient Greek word that means “glory” or “reknown”. In ancient Greek culture, glory was found on the battlefield, much like every other civilization. When a solider was refused his earned due, or kudos, it was considered a very serious insult. One of the most famous examples of kudos is in the Iliad when Agamemnon takes the maiden Briseis from the soldier Achilles as a gift of honor- kudos earned from his glory in battle.
Glitch: A word for “slip up”, glitch is believed to be a conglomeration of two words, both that meant to slip or slide, around 1962: “glitshen” (Yiddish) and “glitschen” (German). It was first used in English by American astronauts when there was a spike in an electrical current, and then broadened to other technical mishaps. (Image: GLITCH – Designing Imperfection.)
Assassin: The origins of this Arabic word date back to the ninth century, when an Islamic sect was led to overthrow the Suni Muslims. Yemeni Shiite Hasan-I Sabbah was the founder of the group and set about his mission by targeting the enemies’ leaders. The group was given the name Hashshashin, meaning hashish-eaters, and was converted into English in 1603 as “assassin”.
Déjà vu: “I’m having déjà vu” has somehow secretly slipped into English to solely describe an inexplicable instance that may have never actually happened.
“Already seen,” is the English translation of the French phrase with which we associate that weird feeling of reliving the same past experience. In France you’ll hear this word on a daily basis, because it’s used to express “having re-seen” a person, place or things, not in another life or dimension. In other words, it’s a factual encounter.
The French do believe in the weird phenomenon, but have a different way of spelling it (with a hyphen), déjà-vu. There is no difference in pronunciation though, which is why context is always key!