Are You Multilingual?


Can you read this?

“Fæder ūre, ðū ðē eart on heofonum,

Sī ðīn nama gehālgod.

Tō becume ðīn rice.

Gewurde ðīn willa

On eorþan swā swā on heofonum.

Urne gedægwhamlīcan hlāf syle ūs tōdæg.

And forgyf ūs ūre gyltas,

Swā swā wē forgyfaþ ūrum gyltendum.

And ne gelæd ðū ūs on costnunge,

ac alȳs ūs of yfele.


How about now?

“Our fadir that art in heuenes,

halwid be thi name;

Thi kingdom cumme to;

be thi wille don

as in heuen and in earthe;

giv to vs this day our breed ouer other substaunce;

and forgene to vs oure dettis,

as we forgeue to oure dettours;

and leede us nat in to temptacioun,

but delyuere vs fro yuel.


Is this better?

“Our father which art in heauen,

hallowed be thy name

Thy kingdome come.

Thy will be done,

in earth, as it is in heauen.

Giue vs this day our daily bread.

And forgiue vs our debts,

as we forgiue our debters.

And lead vs not into temptation,

but deliuer vs from euill:

For thine is the kingdome, and the power,

and the glory, for euer,


How’s this?

“ ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,

your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts,

as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation,

but deliver us from the evil one. For yours is the Kingdom

and the power and the glory forever, Amen.’”

All four examples are the same quote and in the same language! English. They are all what is known as the “Lord’s Prayer” (Matthew 6:9-13). The only difference is time. The first one comes from Old English in 995 AD, the second comes from the Wycliffe Bible written in 1389, the third is from the King James Version of 1611, and the last quote is from the New International Version of the Bible last updated in 2011.

Why the big difference? As mentioned a language evolves over time, but also outside influences plays a big role. As cultures intermingle so do their languages. Words are borrowed. These words are known as “loan words”.

The contemporary version of the “Lord’s Prayer” contains 42 different words (66 words total). Of these 42 words, only 8 are true English words. The rest of the words originate from five other languages. The bulk of the words (21) are of German origin, which makes sense since the English language has its roots in Germany. The remaining words break down as follows: Latin – 7, Greek – 4, French – 1 and Hebrew – 1 (check my math, it should come out right).

Here is the list of words and their original language:

German our, heaven, hallowed, be, your(s), come, do(ne), earth, it, give, us, bread, and, forgive(n), we, have, lead, from, evil, the, for
Old English kingdom, as, today, also, not, into, but, forever
Latin will, debts, debtors, temptation, deliver, one, glory
Greek father, in, name, on
French power
Hebrew Amen

This is just one example of how other languages have influenced the English language. The chart at the top of this blog gives a general breakdown of the percentage of words in the English language that were borrowed from other languages. So, maybe you’re multilingual after all!

At the end of this blog I’ve listed other common words and their origin. As always, if you have any translation needs, contact us at

Latin butter, cheese, kitchen, wall, circle
German noodle, pretzel, hamburger, kindergarten, delicatessen
Scandinavian cake, egg, husband, seat, window
French crime, saint, royal, volunteer, bracelet
Greek anonymous, comedy, history, skeleton, tragedy
Arabic algebra, admiral, orange, sugar, zero
Spanish alligator, canyon, guitar, mosquito, ranch
Italian balcony, casino, ghetto, piano, umbrella
Yiddish bagel, kosher, klutz, lox, schmuck
Russian czar, icon, vodka
Sanskrit avatar, karma, yoga
Hindi bandanna, cot, jungle, pajamas, shampoo
Farsi check, chess
African Languages banjo, gorilla, jazz, yam, zombie
Native American Languages avocado, canoe, chocolate, hurricane, potato
Chinese tea, ginseng
Japanese karaoke, soy, sushi, tsunami
Pacific Island Languages bamboo, tattoo, ukulele
Aboriginal (Australian) Language boomerang, kangaroo
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3 Responses to Are You Multilingual?

  1. Pingback: welcome… | teacherjosechavez

  2. Pingback: Challenges about raising bi/multilingual kids… | 3rdculturechildren

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