I just read a article in a british newspaper and stumbled upon a article where they used the (usually) german word "ersatz" (engl: replacement) without a translation as if it would be normal vocabulary.

Why would one use this word without translation? do british people know this word or would they have to google it ?!

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    It's now an English word. English borrows words from other languages for many reasons. Whether a native English speaker knows what it means depends on many factors, including education level and how well read one is. Or if one simply loves to learn new words – AmE speaker Apr 9 '17 at 13:52
  • We could go through the article you reference word by word and look up the etymology of each word. Many will be borrowed from other languages. – AmE speaker Apr 9 '17 at 13:55
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    It is an English word. It is not basic vocabulary; it is more advanced than that, but it is an English word. You can look it up in all but the most basic (English) dictionaries. – AmE speaker Apr 9 '17 at 14:08
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    Also note that in English ersatz usually suggests that a substitute is a "fake" or a "phony" — emphasizing that it is not the genuine article. – Robusto Apr 9 '17 at 14:14
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    @ChristianSinger, did you try looking for it in a dictionary? dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/ersatz – JavaLatte Apr 9 '17 at 15:04

The word ersatz has been used in English since the late 19th century http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=ersatz. Naturally, the pronunciation differs from the High German pronunciation (voiced and unvoiced pronunciations of the 's' are recorded, and the 'r' is pronounced only in rhotic dialects), and the meaning may also be different.

It is a rarer word compared with the synonyms "replacement" or "substitute", it also carries a connotation of "artificiality" or "of poor quality", that its synonyms don't have. Wiktionary has list of quotations https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/ersatz. There are some particular examples for which ersatz is the normal choice of word: ersatz coffee for roast chicory is one example.

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