The English language is a thief. What we call English isn’t really English at all. Instead, it’s a collection of borrowings from other languages. Latin is the main one, but there’s also a good bit of French and a healthy serving of Spanish. There are thousands of Spanish loan words in English – some claim as many as 10,000 – and they all entered the language from three main sources.
Trade in the Caribbean region brought a number of local Spanish words into the language:
Many words were brought into English by cowboys working in the Southwest USA, such as:
- buckaroo (from vaquero, Spanish for cowboy)
Then there are several words for food and drink that you just can’t describe in English:
And then there are others, where we know the Spanish words, but we’re just not sure exactly how they got here.
- alligator (from the Spanish for lizard – el lagarto)
This is just a selection of the Spanish loan words we use in English. Have you got any favorite ones to add to the list?