To illustrate what I mean, hypothetically, Russian could borrow the word "peak" from English and transliterate it as "пеак", while still pronouncing it according to the English pronunciation [piːk]. Alternatives would be:

  • writing пеак and pronouncing [pʲɛɐk], where only the spelling is kept;
  • writing пик and pronouncing [piːk], where only the pronunciation is kept.

For languages written in the Latin alphabet, it is common to borrow English words with their spelling and rough pronunciation both maintained. It would be interesting to know if there are languages written using non-Latin alphabets that behave similarly.

This example is made-up. Hope someone can supply a real example.

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    Borrowings in the other direction - from a non-Latin alphabet into English - often do seem to maintain the "original" spelling, except where there are sound combinations that simply don't exist in English (in which case they'll be transliterated to something close that does exist in English). However, most of the time, the language with the non-Latin alphabet will have less sound-to-spelling variability. I would think it more likely that the borrowed English word would be treated approximately the same way, and spelled according to the local orthographic conventions - Eng. PEAK -> Rus. ПИК Nov 20, 2018 at 13:28
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    This question uses a made-up hypothetical example, a real world example of at least one language doing it would be good. Nov 20, 2018 at 14:42
  • Are you asking if one language borrows both?
    – Michaelyus
    Nov 20, 2018 at 17:41

1 Answer 1


The examples in this paper indicate that English words borrowed into Greek are borrowed on the basis of pronunciation, not spelling, and that is generally the situation, as I am aware of it, for borrowings that require a change of alphabet. Here are examples from Russian; this paper addresses (Egyptian) Arabic although the details are a bit slim, so see also this paper on Modern Standard Arabic borrowings; Thai here. In general, you compute the pronunciation according to the rules of the source language based on whatever the actual source would be, render that pronunciation in the target alphabet. It may be difficult to determine the actual source, since a word etymologically from English may enter a language via another language.

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