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Sunday, September 16, 2007

The French have a word for it

Over the centuries the English language has assimilated phrases and words from other languages. Here are some examples.

A cappella, Italian, sung without instrumental accompaniment (literally “in chapel style”)

Ad hoc, Latin, made or done for a particular purpose (lit. “to this”)

Agent provocateur, French, a person who tempts a suspected criminal to commit a crime so that they can be caught and convicted (lit. “provocative agent”)
Al dente, Italian, (of food) cooked so as to be still firm when bitten (lit. “to the tooth”)

Alfresco, Italian, in the open air (lit. “in the fresh”)

Bête noire, French, a person or thing one particularly dislikes (lit. “black beast”)

Blitzkrieg, German, an intense, violent military campaign intended to bring about a swift victory (lit. “lightning war”)

Carte blanche, French, complete freedom to act as one wishes (lit. “blank paper”)

Caveat emptor, Latin, the buyer is responsible for checking the quality of goods before purchasing them (lit. “let the buyer beware”)

C’est la guerre, French, used as an expression of resigned acceptance (lit. “that’s war”)

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