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May 20, 2017 4:56 PM   Subscribe

Distinct languages have dominated the terminologies of various societal areas - what other examples are there?

The "technical language" and terms of art for many parts of human society have been dominated by particular languages. We use French kitchen and restaurant terms, Italian musical notation, and German psychological words. Are there other examples of this? Is there a term for this sort of linguistic dominance over a particular industry or part of society?
posted by backseatpilot to Grab Bag (18 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Computer technology terminology is dominated by English as much of it was first developed in the US. Many Art terms (chiaroscuro, fresco, etc) are also Italian as they were part of the Renaissance. Ballet terms come from French. Mathematical terms (Algebra, average, etc) tend to come from Arabic. Philosophy and aesthetics and drama terminology is often Greek.

In all the above cases, and yours, this is simply where that Art underwent significant rapid development at some point. I don't know if there is a term.

I guess words are developed too where they most matter and most needed. For example, if you are a small island in an earthquake zone then you are likely to develop a need for a word such as 'tsunami' and then everyone else uses that.
posted by vacapinta at 5:15 PM on May 20, 2017 [2 favorites]

Catholic Church liturgy and biology's binomial nomenclature system both use variants of Latin.
posted by Rhaomi at 5:27 PM on May 20, 2017

Some terms in particle and nuclear physics, and the related mathematics, that originated in the 1920s-30s are German: bremsstrahlung (braking radiation), eigenfunction/eigenvalue (hybrid German-English).

Particle physics words that originated in the 1920s to 1950s have roots in Greek: baryon, meson, lepton, photon, and all the particles that were named after Greek letters (muon, tau, sigma, xi, upsilon). Particle physics terminology in the 60s and 70s got silly: quark, gluon, and the names of the individual quarks (up, down, strange, charm, top, bottom).

The word Hurricane (Huracan, the hurricane god) comes from the language of the indigenous people of Puerto Rico.

Typhoon (big wind) is Chinese. Tsunami (harbor wave) is Japanese.
posted by heatherlogan at 5:35 PM on May 20, 2017

Many names of land-forms found in the U.S. southwest are Spanish: arroyo, mesa, playa.
posted by heatherlogan at 5:39 PM on May 20, 2017

A lot of fencing terms are French: riposte, en garde, touché, though in my experience, people only say touché as a joke.
posted by FencingGal at 5:52 PM on May 20, 2017

Many terms for interpersonal niceties seem to come from French - etiquette, affair de coeur, élan, esprit d'escalier, badinage, flaneur, joie de vivre, having a certain "je ne sais quoi", etc.
posted by metaseeker at 6:15 PM on May 20, 2017

Lots of law terminology comes from latin.
posted by bleep at 6:25 PM on May 20, 2017

Ballet is dominated by French vocab.
posted by darchildre at 6:25 PM on May 20, 2017

Medical terminology has a ton of Greek and Latin in it.
posted by SLC Mom at 6:26 PM on May 20, 2017

Many terms for lava and vulcanology are Hawaiian.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 7:53 PM on May 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

A lot of fabric terms come from Arabic or Persian: calico, camise, cotton, damask, fustian, gauze, mohair, mufti, muslin, percale, sequin, satin, tabby, taffeta.

Also what we might call the luxury life of medieval times: alcove, amber, azure, halvah, hashish, henna, hookah, houri, jasmine, julep, kohl, lilac, loofah, lute, marzipan, ottoman, sherbet, sofa, sash, tambourine.

Some obvious stuff but worth mentioning: New World foodstuffs/animals from Nahuatl, Quechua, and various Algonquian languages; religious terminology from Hebrew, Greek, and Sanskrit.
posted by zompist at 8:38 PM on May 20, 2017 [14 favorites]

Many names of land-forms found in the U.S. southwest are Spanish: arroyo, mesa, playa.

Ditto for cities and street names in that part of the US as well (Vista, Los Angeles, etc).

Some obvious stuff but worth mentioning: New World foodstuffs/animals from Nahuatl, Quechua, and various Algonquian languages

To piggy back off of Zompist here:
Adobe is a software company that makes a program called Dreamweaver.
Apache is an open source web server.
Company meetings are called powwows.

Here's a wiki on the topic of words we may think are English but are actually taken from Indigenus American languages.
posted by Hermione Granger at 9:10 PM on May 20, 2017 [2 favorites]

Also religious/philosophical terminology in Arabic if the culture is significantly Muslim.
posted by divabat at 2:06 AM on May 21, 2017

Warfare / battle terms are often derived from French (in Euro derived cultures at least) - enfilade, barricade, lieutenant, etc etc.

Diplomacy used to be conducted in French too, so you'll find a bunch of French terms there.
posted by pharm at 2:45 AM on May 21, 2017

A lot of words in geology and paleontology are 19th-century coinages in Greek and Latin (sometimes mashed together) by anglophones with a classical education.
posted by gold-in-green at 11:18 AM on May 21, 2017

english is the traditional - and legal - language of civil aviation.
posted by j_curiouser at 11:47 AM on May 21, 2017

Many English words in the automotive and aviation realms are of French origin (fuselage, carburetor, chauffeur, etc.).
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 11:02 PM on May 21, 2017

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