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No Hassles with New Words

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  26 July 2017 12:00 AM GMT

Aready acceptance of well-coined new words and the very possibility of coining words that reflect some of our quotidian experiences better than what the familiar vocabulary permits has given the English language a distinct advantage over languages that do not approve of new coiges. Apart from the poet John Keats who merrily went about coining English compound words, there has been no dearth of other valiant adventurers who have enriched the English vocabulary. Prominent among them have been editors and jourlists whose penchant for punning and coining new words has bordered on the puckish. Besides, there are few languages that have been as enriched as English has been through borrowings from Indian and African languages. Words that sound very distinctly English have, in fact, been borrowed from diverse Asian and African languages. Prominent among them are words like catamaran, a yacht or boat with twin hulls in parallel, derived from the Tamil word kattumaram, literally, tied wood. There is also the word orange derived from Old French orange based on Arabic n?ranj from Persian n?rang. The interesting part of the change is that a n?ranj should have eventually become an orange. Then there is shampoo, which has its origin in the 18th century (in the sense of massage) from Hindi champo (press), imperative of champ.

However, it is what has happened to English words (particularly mes) in other languages that is even more interesting. Take a word like screwdriver. In Swahili and one or two other African languages the word has become sukurudireba. These are languages that do not have complex consont clusters. That is why words with three consonts forming a cluster are reduced to the simpler consont + vowel combition that we find in a word like sukurudireba.

One of the most common linguistic modifications that we encounter is a reduction of consont clusters to consont + vowel combitions whenever these combitions get difficult to mage. Clusters of three consonts are rather common in English. Words like splurge, scramble and stranger are quite common in English, but create problems for Japanese learners learning English, since Japanese has no consont clusters. Nor are we, Assamese speakers, entirely comfortable with three-consont clusters. We have a tendency to reduce such clusters to consont + vowel combitions. Many British mes that we find difficult to pronounce, also get reduced to simpler consont + vowel combitions. A British me like Brodie gets simplified to Boroti in Assamese.

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