Edward Sapir > Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech > Subject Index > Page 210
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Edward Sapir (1884–1939).  Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech.  1921.
 

Page 210
 
Buddhist literature and nowhere has Buddhism implanted itself more firmly than in Tibet, yet it is strange how few Sanskrit words have found their way into the language. Tibetan was highly resistant to the polysyllabic words of Sanskrit because they could not automatically fall into significant syllables, as they should have in order to satisfy the Tibetan feeling for form. Tibetan was therefore driven to translating the great majority of these Sanskrit words into native equivalents. The Tibetan craving for form was satisfied, though the literally translated foreign terms must often have done violence to genuine Tibetan idiom. Even the proper names of the Sanskrit originals were carefully translated, element for element, into Tibetan; e.g., Suryagarbha “Sun-bosomed” was carefully Tibetanized into Nyi-mai snying-po “Sun-of heart-the, the heart (or essence) of the sun.” The study of how a language reacts to the presence of foreign words—rejecting them, translating them, or freely accepting them—may throw much valuable light in its innate formal tendencies.
  The borrowing of foreign words always entails their phonetic modification. There are sure to be foreign sounds or accentual peculiarities that do not fit the native phonetic habits. They are then so changed as to do as little violence as possible to these habits. Frequently we have phonetic compromises. Such an English word as the recently introduced camouflage, as now ordinarily pronounced, corresponds to the typical phonetic usage of neither English nor French. The aspirated k, the obscure vowel of the second syllable, the precise quality of the l and of the last a, and, above all, the strong accent on the first syllable, are all the results of unconscious assimilation to our English habits of pronunciation. They differentiate our camouflage clearly

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