I've heard people say that the reason English is such a great language is that it's enriched itself by stealing so promiscuously from other languages. The image I get of English is that she's like the kind of old and very distinguished madam that you'd see running a storied whorehouse in New Orleans. We have "beef" from French and "cow" for the living animal, we have "automobile" formed from the miscegenation of Greek and Latin. We have drug czars and pajamas and canyons and chow mein.
Is this story of English exceptionalism really true, or is it an urban folktale like the number of Eskimo words for snow? It does seem that certain languages such as French and Katharevousa Greek have been much more concerned with maintaining their purity. Are there other languages that could contend with English for the title of Most Thieving Language?
I originally asked this on english.SE, but folks there suggested it would be more appropriate here.