Number one for English language teachers

Words from other languages: Spanish

Type: Article

Tim Bowen comes across all macho with his latest set of words from other languages.

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Many of the words in English that are said to be of Spanish origin are similar or identical to words in Portuguese or Italian, but the ones that follow are widely believed to have passed into English from Spanish. 

There are a number of food and drink terms that are Spanish in origin, including cocoa (a word the Spanish brought back from South America along with barbecue and chocolate), tortilla (literally ‘little cake’), sherry (a corruption of the name of the Spanish city of Jerez, traditionally the home of sherry), chorizo, nacho (the nickname of Ignacio, the person to whom the invention of the snack is attributed), and jerky (from the Spanish word charqui, derived from a South American Indian word). 

The widely used term cafeteria, originally meaning ‘coffee store’, is also Spanish in origin, as is bodega (a cellar, but now used to refer to wine bars with a Spanish flavour). 

Various animal names have their origins in Spanish, including alpaca, alligator, armadillo, barracuda, llama and mosquito as do the dances salsa, tango and flamenco

In the world of transport, the word cargo is believed to have entered English via Spanish as did the word for a person who loads and unloads ships, stevedore (from Spanish estibador). 

Other regularly used words of Spanish origin include macho, vigilante, poncho and patio, as well as two words for extreme weather – hurricane and tornado

Teaching tip: ask learners to use a search engine to find the meaning (and the original meaning) of these English words of Spanish origin: savvy, siesta, ranch, key (in the sense of the Florida Keys), incommunicado, guerrilla and aficionado.   

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