Source, in Russian:

I thought at this moment it was the first time in the world when someone asked the donor language speaker for permission before borrowing something from their language.

Are there (documented) instances of borrowing where the receiving side asked for permission before using a word, idiom or another linguistic feature into their language?

Not picky here at all:

  • Ask may be of a single speaker, an official body or the public. (However, asking only speakers of the recipient language doesn't count.)
  • Permission may be granted or refused.
  • Do proper names count? I bet there are examples of countries asking foreign places if it’s okay to translate their name a certain way.
    – Graham H.
    Commented Oct 18, 2023 at 4:28
  • I'm more interested in common words but that should count too. Commented Oct 18, 2023 at 6:20
  • 1
    At first sight this question looks almost absurd, but thinking of community rights and CARE principles, there might be rather recent examples for that. I am interested, if answers come up along this line! Commented Oct 18, 2023 at 8:32

1 Answer 1


If proper names count, as a comment suggests, an elementary school on Bainbridge Island, Washington has recently been given a new name which comes from the local indigenous language, Lushootseed. The new name, x̌alilc, means marked edge or rock in Lushootseed (so says the local paper - Dr. Lawler or other Lushootseed speakers around here are welcome to provide corrections).

As part of selecting the school's new name, the primarily English-speaking school board sought and received the permission of the Suquamish tribe who traditionally speak a dialect of Lushootseed.

“We deeply appreciate the name that the Suquamish Nation has gifted our community,”[Bainbridge Island School District] superintendent Peter Bang-Knudsen said. “This is not only an opportunity to right past injustices and honor our neighbors and original inhabitants of Bainbridge and the surrounding area, but it is also an opportunity to educate our children about the Suquamish Tribe’s historic and ongoing contributions.”

The Suquamish Tribal Council and the tribe’s culture co-op voted to give the BISD renaming committee permission to use the name x̌alilc (Halilts). x̌alilc is an important petroglyph belonging to the Suquamish Tribe located on Agate Point at the northern end of [Bainbridge Island].

Tribe OKs BI elementary school name change


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