1. ketchup: The staple of bachelors around the world, the magic tomato sauce that makes everything taste better, owes its name and invention to the Chinese, from Mandarin ke-tsiap, which was originally a pickled or fermented fish sauce. Thank you, China!

2. hamburger: The perfect platform for the above mentioned condiment! Although the concept of eating minced meat goes as far back as Ancient Egypt, what we understand as hamburger comes from the German language. Sehr gut!

3. potato: The humble yet versatile root vegetable originated in Peru around 8,000 BC to 5,000 B.C.; but the word came from the Portuguese word batata. In 1537, the Spanish Conquistadores, in search of gold in South America, brought potatoes back to Europe.

4. vodka: Using the above item as one of its main ingredients, vodka comes from the Russian word voda, meaning water. Vodka was first made in Russia in the late 9th century, and was once used for medicine and the production of gunpowder!

5. pizza: Ah, the lovely baked meal in one, which can potentially contain all the food groups! The fact is, pizza could be the brainchild of the Italians, the Persians, or even the Ancient Greeks, as they all made some sort of flatbread with toppings. But the word pizza comes to us from Italian. Recent discovery of a document dating 997 AD in Gaeta, Italy shows the word pizza was used by the son of a feudal lord who promised 12 pizzas to a local bishop as a gesture of homage. Pizza in Italian means ‘pie’.

A delicious spread of English words that have a distinct, foreign flavour; people who are taking English courses will definitely learn that the English language is a buffet of words that owe much of their English existence to other languages. English is now an international language, and when you think about it, it makes perfect sense.

Michael Bunyak

English Teacher at Canadian Education College, Singapore