Linguists around the word have been complaining for years about the fact that English words are ‘invading’ their languages. But what they don’t know is that English itself suffered the same fate over centuries, absorbing words from different languages.

Let’s take a look at the financial sector: you may be surprised to know that words like ‘bank’ or ‘manager’ actually come from Italian, where the banking sector originated. Some of the words politicians use to stun us come from Italian as well, for example ‘bulletin’ or ‘manifesto’.

If you have a look around your kitchen you will find out that proper British food like ‘bacon’, ‘beef’, ‘sausage’ or ‘soup’ are all derived from French, as are many others, a sign that the effects of the Norman Conquest are still visible today. If you don’t believe it, take a look at your ‘menu’! But French cuisine is not the only one that had a strong influence on English vocabulary: from the more recognisable ‘muesli’ and ‘strudel’ to the unsuspected ‘noodles’, the number of words that come from German is incredibly high.

We may not notice these and many other loanwords (which, amusingly come from the German ‘Lehnwort’) in English because they are not perceived as foreign anymore. In the case of calques, the borrowed word maintains the original form and is not translated, making it more recognisable. In many cases the word maintains the original meaning, like the German ‘kindergarten’, the Japanese ‘bonsai’ or the Finnish ‘sauna’. But in some cases, if you try to use the same word in its country of origin you may have an unexpected surprise.

For example, if you walked into an Italian café and ordered a ‘latte’, you may think the barista is making fun of you by putting a glass of milk in front of you, which is literally what the word ‘latte’ means. If you want your usual morning cup of coffee and milk you have to make an effort and put the two words together while ordering a ‘caffellatte’. And if you are lucky to attend a wedding in Italy, you will likely receive a small pouch of confetti, but don’t throw them in the air! ‘Confetti’ are a type of small sweet made of almonds with a hard sugar coating. Likewise, if you visit France and fancy having a dessert, be wary of ordering a slice of cake ‘à la mode’, or the waiter would think that you would like to eat a very well dressed cake. If you want your dessert accompanied by ice cream you just need to say it literally: ‘avec de la glace’.

So, if you feel that your language is being “ruined” by English interferences, maybe you shouldn’t worry too much. Every new addition can make a language richer and stronger: only dead languages don’t change!