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A.Word.A.Daywith Anu Garg
James Nicoll, a book reviewer, once said:
The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don’t just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary.
Or as Mary Trump would say: Too Much and Never Enough.
Given its colorful history, it’s no wonder the English language boasts one of the largest vocabulary of any language.* Who knows, perhaps Forbes magazine is working on an annual list of Richest Languages in the World.
English has acquired its vocabulary from far and wide. One might say that some words were forced into English’s pockets when England was ruled by the Vikings and Normans and it acquired others when it itself went plundering around the world.
This week we’ll take a tour of its golden mansion and see artifacts acquired (or “borrowed”, in linguistics) from languages around the world.
*Counting number of words in a language is not an exact science. For starters, what counts as a word? The question is not as simple as it sounds. Run (verb) and run (noun) : two separate words or one? Singular and plural forms? Runs, ran, running? And so on.
1. Easy; not burdensome.
2. Soft; comfortable.
From Hindi/Urdu khushi (pleasure, happiness), from Persian khushi. The second sense probably influenced by the word cushion. Earliest documented use: 1887.
“Few relish the thought of losing a cushy job in a recession.”
Google Grows Up; The Economist (London, UK); Aug 1, 2020.
See more usage examples of cushy in Vocabulary.com’s dictionary.
A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:We have probed the earth, excavated it, burned it, ripped things from it, buried things in it, chopped down its forests, leveled its hills, muddied its waters, and dirtied its air. That does not fit my definition of a good tenant. If we were here on a month-to-month basis, we would have been evicted long ago. -Rose Bird, Chief Justice of California Supreme Court (2 Nov 1936-1999)