Semantic Change in Words Borrowed From English to Urdu

Aisha Aslam, Saba Chaman


The research investigates the semantic change in words borrowed from English to Urdu from a pragmatic perspective. The data for the research were collected through a questionnaire from one hundred volunteers from four universities of Pakistan. The analysis was done both quantitatively and qualitatively. The results revealed the new meanings of the English borrowed words used in Urdu. The quantitative analysis revealed about 69% of the words analyzed in the research did not imply the English dictionary meanings of these words. Additionally, the results depicted that for 11 out of 16 words analyzed, more than 70% of the participants of the questionnaire chose completely changed meanings when the words are used in the Urdu language. Words like ‘light, ‘press’, and ‘paste’ have undergone a significant semantic change as in Urdu, these words mainly mean ‘electricity’, ‘to iron’, and ‘to brush’ respectively. Hence it may be argued that a substantial semantic change has occurred in the words borrowed from English into Urdu. The qualitative analysis proposed how those changes may have happened. It also strengthened the idea that the meanings may not be taken as isolated concepts; rather they are formed in a context depending on the implied meaning of the speaker.

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