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Using English Words When Speaking English

So I saw a forum post that reminded me of a debate that I had with my friend (I shall link to the thread at the bottom; it’s quite interesting, and I recommend reading it). Said friend insisted on referring to his grandfather as “nonno”, which, in the grand scheme of things, is fine; whatever floats your boat, right?

But for the sake of debate and logic, it just seemed kind of odd, and even a little amusing. We have a word (or several) for “nonno” in English. “Grandpa” or “grandfather” or “grandpappy” or “grandpapa” or “grand patriarch” or “senior male overlord.”  I mean, it’s just a little weird to be conversing in English, and then busting out a foreign word that has several commonly used English equivalents, with no explanation or precedent. We’re not talking “rendezvous” here.  Imagine this:

“Hey Friend, yesterday I went to the beach and surfed a bit, then when I got home, my Ah-Gong told me to mow the lawn.”

Your reply would probably be,

“Excuse me, your what?”

“Oh, Ah-Gong is Taiwanese for ‘Grandpa.’”


Since I am a JERK, I contemplated just replacing random words with their foreign equivalents in all conversations with said friend with no explanation. Throw in Japanese “inu” for “dog”, “coche” for car, “capitan de America”, etc. etc. But I did not.

Of course, I usually do engage in mini-language games with certain friends, where foreign vocabulary is used randomly (but I have been “losing” a lot to a certain someone lately), but I never do with this particular friend, so I distinguish the two “types” of conversations.

Anyway, the aforementioned thread:

Does anyone else find the practice of using the foreign-language version of “astronaut” a bit annoying? It seems a bit bizarre.

A Chinese astronaut is… an astronaut. A Russian astronaut is… an astronaut. You’ll notice that during the Olympics, Chinese athletes were still called “athlete.”

Why arbitrarily translate some words into the foreign language?

The complete thread regards China’s plan on building a space station.

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