loan words

13-XI-2012 02:39:56

No I won't loan them, someone may expect me to return them.

Foreign words are being domesticated (aka tamed) everywhere, and Serbian is no exception. Being a bit on the tin ear side for languages, the most popular foreign words are mangled in the process, sometimes with funny results, when the original owner recognizes one (like german viertel becoming frtalj).

Historically, there are many Turkish and Arabic words, left here after the retreat of the Osmanli (aka Ottoman) empire. Then, there are words from neighboring languages (hungarian, romanian, greek etc). During the XIX century, parts of yugoslav lands were within Austro-Hungarian empire (Slovenia, most of Croatia, Vojvodina, and Bosnia for the last quarter of it). Also, when Serbia freed itself of the Ottoman rule, it sent its young to study in either France, Vienna or Heidelberg. Also, the south-slavic intellectuals within the K-und-K empire were mostly gathering in Vienna. Though the intellectuals of those times took good care to translate any scientific vocabulary they needed (which became a tradition - I've graduated maths and I mostly can trasnlate terms in english math books by their meaning, via Latin, and finding that our name for it is an exact translation already), they weren't so keen on translating everyday items, so from those times we have many french words as well.

Also, until the end of WWII, there was a significant german minority in the north, and them being more tech-savvy, they had all the words for machine parts, which have remained within the mechanics' jargon until today. Though, many of those words are twisted beyond recognition, by phonetic change making them slide smoothly through the declinations and pronunciation. For example, "Büchse" (box, I presume) became "biksna", "viertel" (quarter) became "frtalj", or "Schraufenzieher" (screwdriver - šraufenciher) became šrafciger, "Büschse" (box - bihse) - biksna etc. To this last there is actually a rule, that german nouns ending in -e and having a plural in -en generally become feminine gender nouns ending with -na (sometimes -la): Stutze - štucna, Krapfe - krofna, Radkappe - ratkapna, Spachtel - špahtla etc. This extends even to words of english origins sometimes, so I've even heard of a jack called đeksna (although đ is wrong, it should be a dž, and actually džek is quite common already).

The third wave was the gastarbeiter, people who went to german-speaking countries to work, and simply didn't have the vocabulary to parallel what they learned there, and upon return (though not too many have returned) they didn't adopt the verbiage of their native language, but rather kept the German expressions, which also made them sound more expert to their customers. One can tell a mechanic who has learned his trade on the job from one who learned it in the school by their language - the latter will more often use the domestic terms - "kvačilo" instead of "kuplung", or "kočnica" instead of "bremza".

For english words, amazingly, the plural is taken as singular, so it ends in a s and becomes easier to declense. So we knew about Bitlsi and Rolingstonsi, and lately a catwalk model is a modelsica (!) (no matter that we actually had the word model - which was, unfortunately, of masculine gender and meant only for physical model of something, and manekenka (from mannequin) for the fashion display female professional).

Nowadays, new foreign words come mostly from the english language, enforced by new corporate owners of everything and the local wannabe subjects.