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May 31, 2004
This week's theme
Loanwords from French

This week's words
dernier cri
au naturel

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Coined words
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with Anu Garg

In Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass, Red Queen tells Alice, "Speak in French when you can't remember the English for a thing." That's perhaps not bad advice considering that beaucoup words in the English language have arrived via French.

While French is considered a Romance language and English a Germanic language, thanks to the twists and turns of history the two have much in common. English borrowed from French and vice versa. This borrowing often resulted in English having two near-synonyms to describe something (e.g. freedom/liberty, answer/respond). Sometimes the borrowed word is lent back. English budget came via French bougette (little bag), and was then exported back to French with its new sense.

Over the last ten years, we have had weeks of words from Italian, Greek, Sanskrit, Spanish and many other languages in AWAD, but not a whole week of words from French. This week we'll make up for it and feature words borrowed from French.


(ko-zuh-REE) Pronunciation

1. Chat.
2. A piece of informal writing.

[From French, from causer (to chat), from Latin causari (to plead, discuss), from causa (case, cause). Other words derived from the same root are accuse, rush, and excuse.]

"One usually observes that during causeries between friends, relatives, colleagues and even his mother (mostly not Westerly or Englishly educated), words of English oftentimes creep into one's utterances so much so that it is now an accepted norm in our tradition that it has gained an appellate of ingausa (meaning an admixture of English and Hausa) in our expressions."
Suleiman Zailani; Africa.. And the Colour of English; The Guardian (Lagos, Nigeria); Sep 24, 2001.

"Dolphins do not appear to hold out much hope for human-beast causerie either, despite our romanticized view of them as floating hobbits. Mr. Bright does see a bright side to all this, however. If we could converse with animals, he points out, we would have a lot of explaining to do for the terrible way we treat them.
" Jim Holt; Bookshelf: Adorable Pit Bulls, Chimps Who Won't Chat; The Wall Street Journal (New York); Dec 2, 1991.

See more usage examples of causerie in Vocabulary.com's dictionary.


The notes I handle no better than many pianists. But the pauses between the notes -- ah, that is where the art resides. -Artur Schnabel, pianist (1882-1951)

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