Word Ways

Article Title

Peripatetic Words


Maxey Brooke


English is perhaps the most mongrel of languages; Spanish and Swahili are the nearest runners-up. Unlike the French, who try to keep their language pure, the English gloat in this mongrelization. In the beginning they had foreign words imposed upon them by conquerors. They have borrowed words from practically every language in Europe except Lithuanian. They have borrowed words from Asia, Africa, the Americas and Polynesia. They have compounded many of these words without regard to their origin (automobile, for example, is a Greek-Latin compound), and they are continuously inventing new words like xerox, googol and blurb to add to the corpus.