Culture By Peter Tremblay 1795 Views

Why Borrow Words Just to Spell them Incorrectly?

English language is the most popular and widely spoken language on earth. Other popular languages include French, and Arabic amongst others. However, unlike some other languages, English has borrowed some of her words from other languages with most borrowed words being from, French, Portuguese Spanish, German, Greek, Latin or other languages.

Most proper nouns are native English terms except the ones incorporated into the language as an eponym – such as Geiger–Müller tube, or the English terms roentgen named after Wilhelm Röntgen and the likes as can be found onWikipedia.English has some less established borrowed words and expressions, such as raison d’être (from French),piñata (from Spanish), and açai (from Portuguese).

English speakers are more likely to omit the accents from words they consider to have become part of their language, which is why they are no longer found in such words as hotel, role and elite—from the French words hôtel, rôle and élite. Meanwhile, a number of other French-derived words frequently occur both with and without accents, for example naïve/naïve, café/cafe, and façade/façade. Although these words have a long history in English, most people are aware of their French origins, which may explain why their diacritics often persist.

Due to the influence of Celtic Christian missionaries on the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, ancient English Latin alphabet began to replace the Runic alphabet in the 8th century. The orthography of Old English – that was entirely handwritten in its own time – was not well standardized, though it did not use all the Latin letters, and included several letters not present in the modern alphabet.

According to, ‘our use of letters of English language has been influenced by technology. For example, English has always had the sounds we now spell with the letters th, but we used to be able to write them with þ and ð. When printing presses arrived from Europe, their sets of type didn't include those characters, so those characters disappeared. On the other hand, it wasn't until more recent centuries that English speakers (and writers) found it useful to have an official distinction between v and u and between i and j (before then, Julius was just another way of writing Ivlivs) or decided we had a use for the letter w that came from Europe. And we didn't really need q, but it looks so ... Latin! So, the sets of type for our printing presses included those letters.’

Technical limitations can almost always be overcome, but with varying degrees of complexity. Keyboards from the country or region in question usually make it easy to enter the relevant diacritics, but other users have to rely on key combinations specific to their operating system or word processing software. However, people would always abandon letters when they become to hard to type.

James Harbeck writing for The Week, says editors are the gate keepers of orthography and would largely determine what borrowed words would be spelled correctly in the future.


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