Trade and the English language


Trade and the English language


  • Intro

    Trade played a significant role in bringing new words to the English language. Cargo lists such as these were produced by English trading companies to publicise goods recently arrived from India. The shipments listed on the left include several types of fabric with Asian names. Chints (chintz), gingham and seersucker (from Hindi, Malay and Persian respectively) are all words that entered international English in this way.


    Dutch, French and English companies established rival trading posts in India during the 17th century, each hoping to share in the economic success already enjoyed by the Portuguese. Almost all British trade with India came under the control of the East India Company or the rival United Company of Merchants of England. Their ships carried spices, fabrics and new words borrowed from the languages of South Asia.


    East India Company, Cargo Lists for 14 & 17 July 1724.

    Shelfmark: ORB.30/587.

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