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Borrowed WordsA History of Loanwords in English$
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Philip Durkin

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199574995

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199574995.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 28 November 2021

Introducing the data

Introducing the data

(p.22) 2 Introducing the data
Borrowed Words

Philip Durkin

Oxford University Press

Past estimates of the numbers of loanwords from different sources in the vocabulary of English are surveyed. Totals of loanwords from different languages as reflected by the Oxford English Dictionary are examined, and issues to be considered when making use of such data are outlined. To give a clearer picture of loanword influence on the core lexicon, high-frequency words and basic vocabulary are looked at separately. The 1,000 most frequent words in the contemporary English British National Corpus are examined with respect to their language of origin and date of first attestation in English, using data from the OED. Additionally, the concept of basic vocabulary is introduced, and the words that realize the meanings found in a very large basic meaning list are also examined for their language of origin and date of first attestation. Both sets of data suggest two important areas of focus: firstly, the significant contribution of early borrowings from Scandinavian languages to the inner core of the most frequent words with the most basic meanings; and secondly, the massive contribution of words borrowed from French and Latin to high-frequency and basic vocabularies of English, as well as to the general lexicon.

Keywords:   loanwords, Oxford English Dictionary, British National Corpus, basic meanings, high-frequency vocabulary

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