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  1. #1
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    Default French loan words

    Hello everyone,
    I would like to know why in English, French loan words are used to refers to lovers. I'm doing an analysis of the words "fiancé" "fiancée", "beau" . I have to explain the possible reasons why they are used insead of English equivalent, sometimes.
    Thank You in advice

  2. #2
    mykwyner is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: French loan words

    During much of the middle ages, the nobility of England was either French, or of French descent. Most matters of law and courts were conducted in French. It was impossible to be a member of high-society (as we call it today) without speaking at least some passable French.

    French words were readily adopted into English if they concerned matters important to these high-society folks. Mostly they were interested in love and food. That's why we have cattle (kine) pigs (swine) and sheep in the field, but beef, pork and mutton on the table.

    Along with fiance and beau we also have paramour and amorous. I'll bet there's hundreds more examples, but that's all I can think of in this ultra-brief explanation.

  3. #3
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    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
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    Default Re: French loan words

    ...and Old French is still used in some ceremonial applications. When a Bill becomes an Act of Parliament (and so becomes law) it receives 'the royal assent'. An official says La reyne le veult. ["The queen wishes it": the L is no longer used in Modern French, although you can see it in the infinitive vouloir.]

    b

    PS Read more here: Royal Assent - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Last edited by BobK; 16-Oct-2007 at 11:09. Reason: Added quotation marks in translation, and PS

  4. #4
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    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
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    Default Re: French loan words

    Quote Originally Posted by sweet kitten View Post
    Hello everyone,
    I would like to know why in English, French loan words are used to refer... to lovers. I'm doing an analysis of the words "fiancé" "fiancée", "beau" . I have to explain the possible reasons why they are used ins[t]ead of the English equivalent, sometimes.
    Thank You in advice
    PS

    Incidentally, I question your use of the phrase 'the English equivalent'. If someone refers to his fiancée, it means only one thing. He might say "the woman I intend to marry", or even - if he is rather old-fashioned - "my intended". But neither of those would refer to the formality of the commitment. If he is extremely old fashioned, he might say "my betrothed". But the BNC has only these 80 examples, which often refer to a commitment to marry between two people as recorded in a work of history:

    1 A6U Philip IV, she was also his niece; she had been betrothed to his son Baltasar Carlos but on his death at seventeen the
    2 AD9 , turning back to bow. "Madam, may your betrothed take you to lunch?" "Certainly, sir!"
    3 ADM took the dragon-slaying sword from the hand of Finiver, his betrothed, raised above the water. Stories, myths and history poured
    4 AE4 a ludicrous spectacle. Aged twelve, living in France and betrothed to the dauphin, Mary was asserting her position as the adult
    5 ALY Arthur died only five months later, following which Catherine became betrothed, and later married, the second son, Henry. When
    6 ANB work only Il Promessi Sposi --; translated into English as The Betrothed --; is well known to the English speaking world. Manzoni was
    7 ANB was born, in 1785, near Lake Como and The Betrothed is set near Lecco on the eastern arm of that lake.
    8 APS Whereas in the classic Italian historical novel, Manzoni's The Betrothed (1827), much admired by Eco, the omniscience of
    9 B03 810446. Retribution rules in the world of Jacobean mobsters HIS betrothed vilely poisoned by the Duke, his father dead of discontent while
    10 B11 to say nothing of dramatic talent. They were regarded as betrothed, but while Judith regularly took on the air of proprietorship,
    ...
    71 JXU when he came to a standstill "--; you're newly betrothed …" He paused, and she saw his jaw clench as
    72 JY2 to draw up horoscopes for herself and the man she was betrothed to. These horoscopes seemed to indicate that if the union went
    73 K4W of Aberdeen Road, Darlington. Within hours the couple were betrothed, even though both were stunned at the speed things moved. On
    74 K8S way of thinking, and in no time I shall be betrothed to Isabel. Her parents would as lief have me as Humphrey
    75 K95 . "How long, sir, have you known your betrothed?" Geoffrey's wine-flushed face was wreathed in smiles as he
    76 K95 one. Maude Philpott, daughter of a cutler, solemnly betrothed to the young Cranston. Young? He had been fifteen years
    77 K95 What now, eh?" Geoffrey Parchmeiner, Philippa's betrothed, stood up and walked out of the darkness near the wall.
    78 K95 his foot and whistling softly under his breath. "My betrothed asked a question," Philippa demanded. "How do you
    79 K95 show you a whore!" The girl gasped. Her betrothed leapt back to his feet, his hand going to the knife
    80 K95 Mistress Philippa when he had met her and her rather effeminate betrothed. Fitzormonde gazed up at the cruel gargoyle faces on the Chapel
    Besides, how long ago does a word have to have been borrowed before it's regarded as 'English'? Many many English words are borrowings.

    b

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