Southeast Asia Celebrates Songkran, the Traditional New Year
For more photos and videos from Songkran Celebrations, browse the #Songkran hashtag.
Starting this Sunday, communities in Southeast Asia celebrate the Southeast Asian New Year, widely known around the world as Songkran (สงกรานต์). For centuries, people in places like Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar (also known as Burma) have marked the starting of a new year with this three-day festival.
Rooted in Buddhism, the events held during Songkran vary from country to country. The most common ritual involves large crowds of people taking to the streets to douse one another with water. Splashing water stands as a religious symbol of bringing good fortune to others, but nowadays it is often taken up for pure enjoyment as well as light relief during the region’s hottest month of the year. Instagrammers taking part in the festivities gear up with water guns, goggles, bathing suits and, of course, waterproof smartphone cases to capture the excitement. Other customs include visiting Buddhist shrines to pray, bringing food to monks and cleansing statues of Buddha.
Today, English borrows from other languages with a truly global sweep. For instance, borrowing from Japanese has shot up over the past hundred years. Words like judo, sushi, or tsunami have broken through into the vocabulary familiar to everyone. If we look back to the 1800s, Latin, French, Greek, and German are much more dominant. This owes a great deal to the specialist vocabularies of science, technology, and learning; compare for example oxygen, borrowed from French (but formed from elements of Greek origin), or paraffin, borrowed from German (but formed from elements of Latin origin).
In his upcoming book Borrowed Words, Philip Durkin looked at the languages that have shaped English over the centuries, charting the influence of Spanish, Italian, French and more. At Slate, he sums up his most important data with the help of an interactive tool. (via millionsmillions)