Languages often borrow from one another: it’s a common source of linguistic growth and change. Normally what gets borrowed is words, called ‘loans’, ‘loanwords’, or ‘borrowings’ (though the terms suggest eventual return, which isn’t how it works). Any word that isn’t a loanword is a native word.
English is a frequent borrower, being full of loanwords from many other languages. This ability to integrate foreign forms is one reason for its success. And it goes both ways: because of English’s status and reach, it’s a common ‘donor language’ for others. The World Loanword Database is a useful resource on the phenomenon.
Less often, other linguistic elements are borrowed, like grammatical structures or pronunciations. An example of the former is because X, a popular construction in informal English.* I first wrote about because X in 2013, elsewhere picking it as my word of the year (the American Dialect Society later did likewise). Such was its impact that the phrase was discussed not just by linguists but by more mainstream outlets.
From my original post:
Because X is fashionably slangy at the moment, diffusing rapidly across communities. . . . However it arose, it seems to be spreading. Language loves economy, and the sheer efficiency of this use of because is likely boosting its popularity.
Or, more succinctly:
So it should not surprise us to find that the usage has been borrowed by other languages. I got provisional confirmation of one, Norwegian, in a tweet from @Joakimpb in January 2014:
Then recently I got an email from Ian Mac Eochagáin, an Irishman living in Helsinki, who shared this photo of an ad for Volkswagen in the Finnish magazine Suomen Kuvalehti.
‘Täysin uusi’ means ‘completely new’. ‘Koska perhe’ means ‘because family’ in Finnish. The ‘because noun’ construction has become something of a thing in Finnish, I’ve noticed. It’s not normal for Finnish grammar and seems to have been borrowed from English. I remember seeing a sign in a Helsinki bar saying the terrace was closed at 22:00 ‘because Helsinki’, referring to the city by-law. […] It’s become entrenched.
Because X in Finnish, koska perhe, is rendered in the marketing campaign as a hashtag (#koskaperhe), underscoring its informality and trendiness. Though the hashtag has a company website named after it, the fact that only two tweets appear to have used it (one of them critically) doesn’t flatter the corporation’s use of Twitter.
In any case, it made me wonder if because X has become a calque or loan translation in any other languages as a result of its emergence and increasing mainstream use in English. It certainly has a history in a few, in some cases presumably independent of English influence. Here are some tweets on its occurrence in various dialects and languages:
It’s also older than I thought:
* Also called because NOUN or prepositional because, but I tend to stick with because X because the construction also licenses verbs, adjectives and interjections, and because the ‘prepositional’ description is disputed.