With the great influx of people from Eastern Europe, particularly from Poland to the United Kingdom many commentators believe the English language could be set for its next great ‘dose’ of new words.
As we all know, the English language has survived through its amazing capacity to change and evolve. First, the native Britons were conquered by the Romans who brought Latin with them, the Brits were then subdued by the Normans who brought with them Norman French. Imperialism may have left the English mark on other countries but English also picked up a host of words from other languages, words like “pukka”, “juggernaut” or “kosher”.
A survey of words by Thomas Finkenstaedt and Dieter Wolff estimated the origin of English words as:
- French and Old Norman: 28.3%
- Latin: 28.24%
- Other Germanic languages: 25%
- Greek: 5.32%
- No etymology given: 4.03%
- Derived from proper names: 3.28%
- All other languages contributed less than 1%
Another survey by Joseph M. Williams gave:
- French: 41%
- “Native” English: 33%
- Latin: 15%
- Danish: 2%
- Dutch: 1%
- Other: 10%
Now that nearly a million Poles have swollen the population of the United Kingdom, will British English be ready to accept some Polish words? What words will they be?