Learn Vocabulary: English words that come from other languages

Learn Vocabulary: English words that come from other languages

Did you know that a lot of words in the English language actually come from other languages? When you say “hamburger”, “mentor”, “saxophone”, or “spartan”, you are using words that originated in countries such as Belgium, Germany, and Greece. Learn some new vocabulary and, along with that, a bit of history by watching this interesting lesson on foreign words. You will realize that English borrows much more from other languages than you thought. Do you know of any English words that are from your language? Be sure to share them in the comments section!


Dun, dun, dun, dun, dun, dun. Hi. James from engVid. We always do very serious lessons. Well, kind of serious lessons, in my case, but usually, you know, we stick with the grammar, the idioms, vocabulary, and whatnot, and every once in a while, it’s just kind of fun to find out where words are. There’s nothing wrong with learning for learning sake. In fact, when you learn that way and you’re having fun, you’re probably going to want to learn more. Okay? Even myself, I’ve taught English for at least 10 years. Probably longer; gosh knows. Every once in a while I’m fascinated when I learn the history of something that I didn’t know existed or, you know, why we use this instead of that, or there used to be something else. It’s fascinating.

So today, we’re going to have a bit of a fun lesson where you’re going to learn about English words. You’re still going to learn how to use them, but we’re going to look at words that actually come from you, the viewing audience. You guys always watch us. Now we’re going to return the favour and tell you about words that come from your countries, your languages that we brought. Okay? So these are words from around the world, brought to you by Mr. E. And you can see our globe is here. And we’re going to take a first look at our visual words, and then we’re going to do a few others and give you some definitions. You ready? Let’s do the first one.

What could be more American in the world than the hamburger? There’s McDonald’s hamburgers, Big Boy burgers, just burgers. Right? The hamburger and the hot dog are American as apple pie. But what if I told you the hamburger is not American? Right now there are about a million Americans having heart attacks, like: “Don’t take that away from us. That’s American like apple pie.” Like an American German apple pie? [Laughs] You’ll see, in the country Germany there is a place called Hamburg, and the hamburger wasn’t served on a bun. That, I have to give to the Americans, they put it on a bun. Because you know they’re lazy… I didn’t say that, guys, but they don’t want to use knife and fork, so they use a bun. In Hamburg, they had the patty, the beef patty, and they would eat it that way. It took an American to put some bread underneath and bread on top, and have that patty that way. But it… Hamburger was originally from Hamburg and it was just a meat patty. Didn’t know that, did you? That’s right, Americans, I’ve got more. [Laughs]

What’s next? Popular instrument. If you love jazz [makes music noise] that’s not even a saxophone; I don’t know how to play. Go watch The Simpsons and watch Lisa Simpson, she plays the saxophone. I had a teacher named David Mott, great guy, he also played the sax. Professional jazz player. Sexy instrument. Now, the saxophone, it sounds very French, no? The French people right now are going: “Of course, it’s magnifique. It’s ours. It is a phone. It is a sax.” I’ve got news for you: bloody Germans… Well, not Germans. This guy’s… This time the guy’s from Belgium. His name was Adolphe Sax. Okay? “Adolphe” is spelt “ph”, so you’ve got your “ph” here. “Saxophone”, it was his musical scene. He’s from Belgium. Belgium? Except from The Muscles from Brussels, Jean-Claude Van Damme, nothing comes from Belgium. And chocolates. But they also made the saxophone. Cool? There you go.