Spanish words adopted into English

“The first English colonists in North America soon encountered their Spanish rivals in well-established settlements.”

Spanish-Words-in-EnglishIn The Story of English (1986), a book sitting literally right in front of me on the bookshelf in the home office, the authors noted that my native tongue borrowed “bellicose Spanish words (reflecting contemporary conflicts) like desperado and embargo.”

Later, it’s more generous: “The first English colonists in North America soon encountered their Spanish rivals in well-established settlements from Florida to Sante Fe, and it was from here that English acquired such everyday words as barbecue, chocolate and tomato

“To this day, American English has borrowed more words from Spanish – like enchilada, marijuana, plaza, stampede and tornado – than from any other language, and the list is growing year by year.

“The [19th-Century cowboys’] contact with the horse-handlers brought a number of new words in American English: rodeo, stampede, bronco, chaps, lasso, mustang, lariat, pinto, poncho, ranch.”

I thought about this because I happened across this article in April 2019: 111 English Words That Are Actually Spanish. Unsurprisingly, several state names are included, such as California; Colorado – “red-colored”; Florida – “flowery”; Montana – mountain; Nevada – snowy; New Mexico – Nuevo México; Texas – the Spanish adopted the word tejas from the language of the indigenous Cado people, meaning “friends” or “allies”; Utah – from the name of the indigenous Ute people, via Spanish yuta; and probably Arizona.

I wouldn’t have guessed 10-gallon hat – from tan galán (so gallant), or possibly galón (braid). Or alligator – el lagarto (the lizard) were on the list.

The article also correctly notes: “English isn’t the only language with a penchant for absorbing words from other languages. Many words that English has acquired from Spanish originally came from other languages, mostly those of native American populations that were subjugated by the Spanish colonial empire.’ Popular “examples that entered English vernacular through the Nahuatl language in Mexico” are noted, including the aforementioned tomato.

See also an article from thoughtco: When Spanish Words Become Our Own; Adopted and Borrowed Words Enrich English.

For ABC Wednesday

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. i hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

4 thoughts on “Spanish words adopted into English”

  1. This is the stuff that “English Only” atavists don’t get in their supposed Nationalistic Pride and ignorance.

  2. “Tan galan” is great! Funny how that evolved into 10-gallon hat, as in so darned big it could hold just that much beer. Cerveza. In any language! Thanks, Roger, Amy

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