Writing Mini-Lessons: Some Foreign Words Used in English Texts

The English language is a vast conglomeration of words, handed down, borrowed or created over more than two thousand years. Our language is still expanding, changing, and trading. Our language is not purely English, but rather a potpourri of diverse words that have come from all around the world. Part of the reason for that is that the history of the English language is really the history of England. Words entered and continue to enter the language in all sorts of ways: with invaders, migrants, tradesmen; in stories, artworks, technologies and scientific concepts; with those who hold power, and those who try to overthrow the powerful. Below are a few foreign words and abbreviations that are commonly used in English. There are many, many more, but the inspiration for this lesson was the common misspelling of the abbreviation for et cetera (etc.) misspelled as ect. so many times in sixth grade writing.

Latin and French Words that Appear Often in English Writing:

  1. etc. (Latin: and others; and so forth; and the rest: et cetera)
  2. i.e. (Latin: that is: id est)
  3. e.g. (Latin: for example; such as: exempli gratia)
  4. vice versa (Latin: in reverse)
  5. via (Latin: by means of)
  6. ad infinitum (Latin: to infinity; endlessly; forever)
  7. ad nauseam (Latin: to nausea; to a sickening extreme)
  8. cliché (French: an expression used so often that it’s trite — no longer fresh)
  9. naïve (French: unsophisticated; showing natural simplicity)
  10. résumé (French: literally, summing up)
  11. déjà vu (French: already seen)