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Languages on Loan

Ever wonder where the words ketchup or tattoo came from? How about tycoon or gung ho? They are all words "on loan" from Asia and the Pacific Islands. Linguistic borrowing has occurred over many centuries, whenever English speakers have come into contact with other cultures, whether through conquest and colonization, trade and commerce, immigration, leisure travel or war.

Samurai House in Autumn. 2004 Calesthenics / photograph by Ansel Adams. 1943

"Chow" is derived from the Cantonese language from a word meaning "food or miscellany." From Malaysia comes "ketchup," derived from "kicap," meaning "fish sauce." Imagine that on a french fry!

Naturally, these borrowed words no longer seem foreign as they have been completely absorbed into the English language. Others are still strongly associated with their country of origin, such as terms for specific ethnic dishes or the different schools of martial arts.

Because Asians and Pacific Islanders have had a profound effect on the nation’s culture, history and way of speaking, May has been designated Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. The 2007 theme, "Pursuing Excellence through Leadership, Diversity and Unity," is a salute not only to the values Asian Pacific Americans hold dear but also to their contributions in making the nation a spirited, free society.

The Library debuts a new Web site topic page in celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. Featured are spotlights on 2006 Kluge Prize winner Yu Ying-shih, Ansel Adams’ photographs of the Manzanar War Relocation Center in California, resources for teachers and more. There is also a sampling of audio-video presentations on such topics as the Cherry Blossom Festival and Confucianism.

A. Samurai House in Autumn. 2004. Prints and Photographs Division. Reproduction Information: Not available for reproduction.

B. Calesthenics / photograph by Ansel Adams. 1943. Prints and Photographs Division. SUMMARY: Group of girls standing in line formation, each one reaching both of her arms straight out to the side. Reproduction Information: Reproduction Nos.: LC-DIG-ppprs-00419 DLC (b&w digital file from original print), LC-DIG-ppprs-00160 DLC (b&w digital file from original neg.), LC-A35-T01-6-M-8 DLC (b&w film dup. neg.); Call No.: LOT 10479-7, no. 11