Expressive loan

Expressive loan

An expressive loan is a loanword incorporated into the expressive system of the borrowing language, making it resemble native words or onomatopoeia. Expressive loanwords are hard to identify, and by definition, they follow the common phonetic sound change patterns poorly. Likewise, there is a continuum between "pure" loanwords and "expressive" loanwords. The difference to a folk etymology is that a folk etymology is based on misunderstanding, whereas an expressive loan is changed on purpose, the speaker taking the loanword knowing full well that the descriptive quality is different from the original sound and meaning.

South-eastern Finnish, for example, has many expressive loans. The main source language, Russian, does not use the front rounded vowels 'y', 'ä' or 'ö' [y æ ø] . Thus, it is common to add these to redescriptivized loans to remove the degree of foreignness that the loanword would otherwise have. For example, "tytinä" "brawn" means "wobblyness", and superficially it looks like a native construction, originating from the verb "tutista" "to wobble" added with a front vowel sound in the vowel harmony. However, it is expressivized from "tyyteni" (which is a confusing word as "-ni" is a possessive suffix), which in turn is a loanword from Russian "stúden' ". A bit more obvious example is "tökötti" "sticky, tarry goo", which could be mistaken as a derivation from the onomatopoetic word "tök" (cf. the verb "tökkiä" "to poke"). However, it is an expressive loan of Russian "d'ogot' " "tar".

A newer example is the net slang word "nyypiö", from English "newbie", which Finnish speakers would hear "njyybi". The meaning of "nyypiö" is distinct from "newbie" due to several reasons:
* "-io/-iö" has its own connotations, e.g. "tampio" "a stupid person"
* "nysvätä" means "to idle", for example during an instant messaging session
* "hyypiö" means "a creepy person"With the help of these connotations, the reader can be guided towards the correct meaning, even if he does not recognize the word "newbie" from "nyypiö". Actually, one of the reasons to redescriptivize is to add a native touch to the word, preventing the mere repetition of foreign concepts.

ee also

*False cognate
*False friend
*Sound symbolism


*Vesa Jarva: [ Tökötti tököttää, tytinä tytisee] (English abstract available)

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