The Changing Face and Forms of Nigerian English in a Global World
7 The African Origins of Common English Words
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The African Origins of Common English Words
A distinct feature of the English language is its extensive borrowing from other languages. Although linguists like to assert that over 90 percent of the words in English trace their origins to Indo-European languages (see, for instance, Baugh & Cable, 1978; Finkenstaedt & Wolff, 1973; Stockwell & Minkova, 2000; Yang, 2009), many central, everyday vocabularies in English have a non-European provenance. According to Williams (1975), a well-regarded historian of English, only about 33 percent of the vocabulary we use in modern English is derived from the native tongue itself, that is, from Anglo-Saxon—as English prior to 1100 is called. The rest is derived from an amalgam of different languages. It therefore won’t be completely out of place to characterize the English language a “loaned language.”
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