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Dec 24, 2007
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Words borrowed from other languages

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with Anu Garg

If you speak English, you know words from at least a hundred different languages. That's because English has borrowed words from languages everywhere, and continues to do so.

All living languages borrow, though not to the same degree. Each new word brings its own color to the mosaic of the language, just as each new person does to a population, making it richer and vibrant.

We see words derived from Greek, Latin, Spanish, French, etc. every day, but this week we'll look at a few words from languages that are not so well known -- Javanese, Coptic, Tamil, Shelta, and Hawaiian -- and also learn a little about those languages.


(LAH-har) Pronunciation Sound Clip

noun: An avalanche-like mudflow composed of volcanic debris and water, originating on the slopes of a volcano.

[From Javanese lahar (lava). Javanese is a language spoken on the island of Java, Indonesia. It has about 80 million speakers.]

"Steam puffs from the same crater in 1975 raised fears that rising heat could melt glaciers and cause lahars, torrential flows of mud, debris and water capable of speeds up to 20 to 40 mph and with enough force to bulldoze houses, trees and boulders."
Geologists Study Beneath Mount Baker; Associated Press; Apr 20, 2007.

See more usage examples of lahar in Vocabulary.com's dictionary.


The soul should always stand ajar. That if the heaven inquire, He will not be obliged to wait, Or shy of troubling her. -Emily Dickinson, poet (1830-1886)

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