Neither a borrower … nor a lender be

I hear Radio 2 are launching their 10th “500 words” competition this week. On last year’s winners’ show I was tickled to hear HRH the Duchess of Cornwall alluding to the influence of “outsiders” in our history/culture and to the number of “foreign” words in common English usage. She mentioned ‘pensive’, ‘odour’ and ‘poltergeist’ amongst others and her point that our language included so many words “loaned” from beyond these borders, set me thinking …

Maybe this de facto member of the Intelligentsia – certainly not the hoi-polloi – was leading us a (ballet) dance or up a cul-de-sac; should we kowtow to the status quo or believe such poppycock?  Were these claims made ad-nauseum by a prima donna Highness – she of the shampooed coiffure – bona fide? Could they bring a typhoon or tsunami of protest? Should we follow Robin Williams’ carpe diem dictum and leave the comfort of our home/chalet/the patio barbecue, pack our rucksack with mosquito spray, utensils, delicatessen-bought smorgasbord lunch including sausage, ketchup, chocolate, sherbet lemons, alcohol and anonymously, en-masse, as macho, tattooed, personae-non-grata, agent-provocateur wunderkinder alight our mopeds – with chutzpah – to pursue an alfresco refusenik vendetta?  Or perhaps avoid such a kamikaze, catastrophic or cartoon-inducing fiasco and become pundits or paparazzi for news of a genre capturing the leitmotiv or zeitgeist? Vis-à-vis any meaning, is this increasingly non-sequitous/nonsensical?…

full of colour …

Indeed … and apologies to HRH and scooter/picnic enthusiasts everywhere, but you may see where I’m going; in the above at least 55 words/phrases are “borrowed”.  That’s well over a third … and these intruders have certainly added flavour/colour to our vocabulary – and our lives. Ketchup seems to have come from the Chinese kê-chiap (鮭汁) or Malay (kecap). Now WHERE would we be without the red stuff?