The English language is a melting pot of different cultures. Loan words from almost every major language make English unique and universal. From Latin and Greek to Arabic and Sanskrit, languages from around the world have contributed words to today’s global language. This means that there is nothing called pure English. English will keep changing and integrating new words into its lexicon. According to lexicographer Kory Stamper, English has been borrowing words since its infancy. It boasts words from around 350 languages and loan words make up almost 80% of the English language!

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Some of our children’s favorite words are also borrowed from other languages. We have compiled five such words that are sure to pique the interest of your kids!

Cartoon:

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How many times a day do you have to ask your children to quit watching cartoons and start studying? And do they ever turn their eyes away from the enticing screens? Unlikely! But maybe this little fact about cartoons might catch their attention. You can use this gap to talk to them about the root of the word cartoon and every other word on the list! The word ‘cartoon’ originated from the Italian word carton that initially meant a drawing on hard paper. In 1843, it began to refer to a comical or amusing depiction of something.

Click here to read our article on how laziness gave birth to the word sandwich.

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In India, we usually use the word cookie to refer to biscuits we buy from bakeries. The word cookie originated from the Dutch word koekje, meaning “small or little cake”. This is because cookies were initially made as test cakes, with a small amount of cake batter to test the temperature of ovens. Culinary historians have traced back the earliest cookie-cakes to 7th century Persia. They reached Northern Europe through the Arab invasion of Spain, the Crusades, and the strengthening of the spice trade.

Ketchup:

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Thanks to Maggi, ketchup (or tomato sauce, depending on what you call it in your household) is a packaged food found commonly in many households. So the next time your child smears ketchup all over their noodles and snacks, you should tell them how the word reached the English language through our neighbours. That’s correct, you read it right! Ketchup originated from the Chinese word ke-tsiap, meaning a pickled fish sauce. Seventeenth-century English sailors brought it to Europe from Indonesia or Malaysia where it was called ketjap and kechap respectively. However, ketchup began to mean a sauce made of tomatoes only in the 17th century after Britishers settled in America!

Chocolate:

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We saved the best for the last! Chocolate, a treat adored by children and adults equally, traces its origin back to the indigenous tribes of Mexico. Etymologists believe that the word chocolate stemmed from the Aztec word xocoatl, which meant a bitter drink made from cacao beans. Sweetened chocolate drinks appeared in Spain in the 17th century and solid chocolate and cocoa powder was created in 1828. The Oxford English Dictionary claims that the English word chocolate originated from the Nahuatl word chocolatl, used to refer to a drink made of many ingredients including cacao beans.