Conquering Foreign Words Help Shape Language

In France, the Académie Française is responsible for protecting the purity of the French language from foreign influences. Other countries are also singularly protective of their cultural languages.

However, due to the increasingly free flow of information across the Internet’s world wide web, this is increasingly hard to do.

I’m a self-taught student of French. I also studied languages in college particularly Spanish. For me, this helps in understanding the world and its various ways it expresses itself.

I am struck by all the English words adopted by both French and Spanish. Words such as email, internet, and even selfie have been directly adopted into the various languages of the world influenced by America’s Silicon Valley.

Even such words as computer and cell phone have been incorporated into various languages with a French or Spanish twist – Computadora (Spanish); Ordinateur (French). Celular (Spanish); téléphone cellulaire (French).

The worldwide predominance of American technology, commerce, and culture have impacted the way we speak to each other.

But America was not always on top of this chain only gaining influence during the early 20th century first with the popularity of American music i.e. Jazz then with its technological edge starting with the Manhattan Project i.e. the nuclear age.

History proves that language develops with the influence of a dominant culture.

Take for instance the Norman invasion of Britain in 1066. Before that date, the people of Britain spoke some form of Anglo-Saxon English. After that date, Norman French replaced many Anglo-Saxon words in speech. Words such as beef and veal, Anglo-French words, became the norm of speaking and understanding while the English words cow, ox, and calf predate the Norman invasion by centuries.

Taken further, the dominance of the Roman Empire produced all of our Romance languages, lands that Rome subjugated in its quest for world dominion: French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian, and Catalan.

All languages of the old world of Asia and Europe stemmed from an Indo-European language, a people who spoke many words commonly shared by all people such as mother and father. For example, mother (English), madre (Spanish), and mère (French) or father (English), padre (Spanish), and père (French).

Languages change and evolve through time and history due to the proximity and dominance of culture. Maybe someday the world’s languages will be influenced by another rising nation such as China or Russia.

One may never know.

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