Foreign influence on English grammar

Every waiter of every language background uses the Yiddish expression, “Enjoy!” Leo Rosten discusses this in his Hooray for Yiddish.
I am reconstructing here, but I know the German for ’enjoy’ is a reflexive verb, erfreuren sich. When told that this in English is ’enjoy’, Yiddish speakers, realizing English does not use reflexive pronouns where Yiddish/German does, would drop the ’yourself’, which is mandatory in English.

So when waiters say, “Enjoy!” they are using a grammatical form influenced by another language. On a much grander scale, this has happened around the world with many languages and can even create what is called a Sprachbund, a German term meaning a group of languages bound together by common features even though they are not directly related.

So in southeast Europe, the Balkans Sprachbund consists of Greek, Serbo-Croation, Bulgarian, Rumanian, Macedonian, and Romani. I had to look up Sprachbund on Wikipedia to avoid going to my bookshelf (I am really tired this last day of school). This develops over many centuries but I thought it interesting that we do have an example in American English, just a tiny nick in the transitive very system, but it is just from such little nicks that larger linguistic streams flow.

Another thing I’ve heard shows influence from Spanish where the word ’apenas’ is used a lot and Spanish-speakers have heard it expressed as ’barely’ in English. So you hear things like, “They barely came when the wedding started”. Many non-Spanish-speakers are picking up expressions like this where many anglosajones mingle with speakers of English as a second language.

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