|About | Media | Search | Contact
A.Word.A.Daywith Anu Garg
After a recent week of words from law, where many of the words are of French origin, I received this email from a reader:
This is not the first time linguistic revisionism is being attempted. During World War I, in the US, some had tried to rename sauerkraut as "liberty cabbage", for example. But we're all so interconnected, as are our languages, that any such attempt quickly falls flat on its face.
"Freedom fries" they say? Well, there's still some French remaining, as the word fry comes from Old French frire. "Freedom toast"? What about toast which comes from Middle French toster. Thinking along these lines, we may even have to rename the US (from Old French estat). Estimates vary, but at least one-quarter of words in the English language have a French influence. In the two lines that the above-mentioned reader sent us, at least six words have French connections (propose, feature, base, language, positive, mail).
A language isn't owned by a country. French belongs as much to Senegal or Canada or anyone else who speaks it as it does to France.
To celebrate the diversity of the English language, this week we'll look at five words that have come into English from five different languages.
sangfroid or sang-froid (san-FRWA) noun
Calmness, especially under stress.
[From French sang-froid (literally cold blood).]
"Sergei Karjakin has an awkward gait. His long arms do not swing at
all as he glides along, but for a 12-year-old with a slight build and a
sensible side-parting he has considerable sangfroid."
"Lemony Snicket's approach is wholly different, featuring the offhand
sang-froid of a standup comedian."
People hate as they love, unreasonably. -William Makepeace Thackeray, novelist (1811-1863)