Loanwords and Anglicisms in Spanish: Words you already know
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In a recent BaseLang post we discussed the common phenomenon of Spanglish, whereby people switch fluidly between Spanish and English within the same conversation. While that habit is mostly observed among bilingual populations, the phenomenon of English loanwords in Spanish has a much greater reach.
Today we’ll look at a selection of English loanwords that are taking root across the Spanish-speaking world. We can also consider many of these to be anglicisms, or anglicismos in Spanish.
We’ll start our post by examining exactly what we mean by loanwords and anglicisms, and then we’ll get into our lists. We’ll see some English words that are used in their exact same forms in Spanish, and others that have undergone some changes to reach their Spanish forms.
And what’s the best news about all of this for Spanish learners? It’s that loanwords and anglicisms are words that you already know from English, so you can easily start using them in Spanish!
What are loanwords?
Loanwords are terms borrowed from one language and incorporated into another. Often, this can be attributed to the globalization of cultures, whether through music, politics, or business. It also happens organically within multilingual communities, where speakers use certain words from another language enough that their use becomes commonplace among that community.
However it happens, when foreign words are eventually adopted into another language’s lexicon they’re known as loanwords. As the use of new English loanwords becomes more widespread, these words are added to Spanish dictionaries and recognized by the Royal Spanish Academy as being part of the language.
Keep in mind that since both Spanish and English have been evolving for centuries and share a lot of common roots, a lot of words appear identical between the two languages, like “local” or “idea.” These are not considered loanwords in either language, but are known rather as perfect cognates. Because of their similarities, English speakers often have trouble pronouncing these correctly in Spanish!
Fortunately for learners, English loanwords in Spanish maintain their English pronunciation along with their spelling!
What are anglicisms?
Words that are taken from English and used in Spanish often undergo adjustments to align with Spanish pronunciation and grammatical structures. These words are still clearly of foreign origin, even though they’ve become more Spanish. When these modified words have been borrowed from English, they’re known as anglicisms, or anglicismos in Spanish.
There’s often a fine line between an English loanword and an anglicism. For our purposes here, we’ll consider that the anglicisms have undergone some clear evolution to become more Spanish, whereas the English loanwords we present are still very close to their original spellings and pronunciations. Let’s see some examples of each in the following sections.
Spanish anglicisms: list
Here we’ll present a selection of Spanish anglicisms. While all of them exhibit modifications that make them distinctly Spanish, you’ll still surely notice the resemblance to the original English words for each one.
Purists may insist on the use of the long-established Spanish words rather than condone this gradual anglicization of their language, but the reality is that most of these anglicisms are now solidly part of Spanish language and culture.
|Original English word
|Standard Spanish word
|Las facturas, Los recibos
|Block (of a city)
|La cuadra, La manzana
|To have brunch
|La oportunidad, La ocasión
|To chill, To relax
|To chat (online)
|Shorts (piece of clothing)
|Los pantalones cortos, Los shorts
|El cereal, Los cereales
|La gasolinera, La estación de gasolina
|To hang out
|Pasar el rato
|El almuerzo ligero
|To have a light lunch
|Comer un almuerzo ligero
|La marqueta, La marketa
|The parking lot
|Junkie, Drug addict
|Zapping (between stations)
English loanwords in Spanish: list
Now we’ll look at a series of English words that are being increasingly used in Spanish. The only change that these English loanwords undergo is that the nouns take a gender!
In some cases, like “selfie” or “influencer,” the English word took hold before a unique Spanish word really gained traction. For others, it’s a combination of the reasons we discussed above that have led to their gradual assimilation into Spanish. Either way, these English loanwords in Spanish keep their original form and pronunciation.
|El beicon, La tocineta
|El coach, La coach
|El entrenador, La entrenadora
|El correo electrónico
|La afición, El pasatiempo
|El influencer, La influencer
|El jean, Los jeans
|El pantalón vaquero
|El centro comercial
Conclusion: Loanwords and Anglicisms in Spanish
In today’s post we brought up the phenomenon of English words being adopted into the Spanish language.
Whether they’re used outright with their original English spelling and pronunciation as a loanword, or whether they’re modified a bit to become more Spanish as an anglicism, these borrowed words are a testament to the constant evolution of the Spanish language!