Foreign Words We All Know


by Evelyn J. Mocbeichel

One of our favorite programs is Jeopardy, for several reasons. The first is to learn new information and the other is to see how much we’ve retained from our school days and ongoing general knowledge. One night the category was about the Italian language and how many words are now used in every day English. It was surprising to see how many answers we knew without speaking that language. I began thinking of all the foreign words that are now part of our English language that we might not even realize it. It is amazing how many other languages we are familiar with that we say or hear on a daily basis. Many of these foreign words or phrases have become part of daily speech, perhaps learned through reading novels and newspapers, dining out and picking menu choices or cooking and following a new recipe. See how many words you know with this simple quiz by naming the English definition of the word or phrase below.

1. bon voyage (French) 2. Prima donna (Italian) 3. Al dente (Italian)
4. Al fresco (Italian) 5. Doppelganger (German) 6. Delicatessen (German)
7. Kindergarten (German) 8. gesundheit (German) 9. Klutz (Yiddish)
10. Glitch (Yiddish) 11. smörgåsbord (Swedish) 12. gung-ho (Chinese)

Answers: 1) Have a good trip (good voyage). 2) a conceited and temperamental person. 3) Still firmly cooked pasta (literally means “to the tooth”). 4) in the open air (in the “fresh”). 5) someone that looks exactly like somebody else (like seeing double). 6) a shop where you can buy sandwiches and smaller bites to eat (it means fine and fancy foods, but we know it as “the deli” for short). 7) preschool for children (basically it means children’s garden or play space). 8) a response to someone that sneezes. (Bless you) The words actually mean “good health” hoping the person is not sick. 9) A clumsy person, or one who drops and breaks things often. 10) Typically a small problem, but most likely not hard to overcome to fix or finish something started. 11) Buffet with hot and cold foods. Popular in most Scandinavian countries and their buffet has an abundance of smoked or pickled fish items to eat along with salads and cheeses. 12) In English it describes being excited about something or super enthused. The direct translation means “working together”, but the meaning has changed a bit when used in English and used as an adjective.