‘Looted’ words

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by STAFF

What words of Asian origin have we integrated into our own vocabulary? Out of the 75,000 words that the average educated person knows, here’s a “loot” (Sanskrit, Hindi) bag of borrowed words from Asia.

There are the obvious additions to our culinary lexicon as palettes have expanded —tandoori, tamari, biryani, kabob and dim sum, to name a few. Then there are those words that our taste buds are familiar with, but less so with its origins —ketchup (Chinese), jasmine (Arabic, Persian), soy (Chinese, Japanese), pilaf (Persian, Turkish) and tofu (Chinese, Japanese).

Fashion-wise, we’ve adopted: gingham (Malay), seersucker (Persian), pyjama (pajama), tiara (Persian), kaftan (Persian, Turkish), khaki (Urdu, Persian), bangle (Hindi), pashmina (Persian).

We also some of our big-wig words to Asia: tycoon (Japanese), mogul (Persian, Turkish), juggernaut (Sanskrit), guru (Hindi, Punjabi)

And we’re also “gung-ho” (Chinese) about these: boondocks (Tagalog-Filipino), cooties (Malay), yo-yo (Tagalog-Filipino), dungaree (Hindi), bungalow (Hindi), gecko (Malay), orangutan (Malay).

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