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    Default Why Do English Speakers Use Some Many French Words In Their Writings?

    English is my 2nd language and it already took too much of my time and I never intend to learn a 3rd language, however beautiful it is. My opinion is, to have a good grasp of one foreign language is better than know a smattering of many.

    But it's so annoying that English speakers use so many French words in their writings.

    I wonder do all English speakers use French words a lot? Or is it just some people use them to show off their language skills and make themselves sound posh and elegant?

  2. #2
    bhaisahab's Avatar
    bhaisahab is online now Moderator
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    Default Re: Why Do English Speakers Use Some Many French Words In Their Writings?

    Quote Originally Posted by VividJailbird View Post
    English is my 2nd language and it already took too much of my time and I never intend to learn a 3rd language, however beautiful it is. My opinion is, to have a good grasp of one foreign language is better than know a smattering of many.

    But it's so annoying that English speakers use so many French words in their writings.

    I wonder do all English speakers use French words a lot? Or is it just some people use them to show off their language skills and make themselves sound posh and elegant?
    Can you give some examples?

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    Default Re: Why Do English Speakers Use Some Many French Words In Their Writings?

    Quote Originally Posted by bhaisahab View Post
    Can you give some examples?
    I understand some of the French words have been used for a long time and have become part of your everyday vocabulary, like: Valet, chaufer, fiance/e, ...etc

    But why use "Fin de siecle" instead of "end-of-the-century"; why "en route" instead of "on the way",and "tour de force " "masterpiece"??

    I know I shouldn't be complaining but I do feel a bit frustrated.

    How do I learn most frequently used French words? Are there books or websites about it?

  4. #4
    BobK's Avatar
    BobK is online now Harmless drudge
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    Default Re: Why Do English Speakers Use Some Many French Words In Their Writings?

    Quote Originally Posted by VividJailbird View Post
    I understand some of the French words have been used for a long time and have become part of your everyday vocabulary, like: Valet, chaufer, fiance/e, ...etc

    But why use "Fin de siecle" instead of "end-of-the-century"; why "en route" instead of "on the way",and "tour de force " "masterpiece"??

    I know I shouldn't be complaining but I do feel a bit frustrated.

    How do I learn most frequently used French words? Are there books or websites about it?
    If they mean masterpiece, people who want to use French use the phrase chef d'œuvre; 'tour de force' on the other hand has been used by English-speakers since 1802 - though actually that's the earliest written use found in OED (and summarized here: Online Etymology Dictionary), so it was probably in use a good deal earlier. It was almost certainly a fin-de-siècle* borrowing, dating from the times in the last decade of the 18th century when London was the main refuge for French aristocrats fleeing from Revolutionary France.

    b

    *Sorry, I couldn't resist it. The point is that using a Gallicism, in this case, evokes the history of the time. English is full of borrowed words, and they're useful in various ways.

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    Default Re: Why Do English Speakers Use Some Many French Words In Their Writings?

    BobK:It was almost certainly a fin-de-siècle* borrowing, dating from the times in the last decade of the 18th century when London was the main refuge for French aristocrats fleeing from Revolutionary France.


    You come up with the most interesting titbits of information! I hadn't thought of that major influence -(only the years when French was the official language after the Norman invasion.)

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    Default Re: Why Do English Speakers Use Some Many French Words In Their Writings?

    Quote Originally Posted by David L. View Post
    BobK:It was almost certainly a fin-de-siècle* borrowing, dating from the times in the last decade of the 18th century when London was the main refuge for French aristocrats fleeing from Revolutionary France.


    You come up with the most interesting titbits of information! I hadn't thought of that major influence -(only the years when French was the official language after the Norman invasion.)
    That's the main reason. But there are little localized 'hotspots' of influence (often resulting from an influx of refugees - that word itself was borrowed in the 17th cent. to refer to Huguenots fleeing from persecution: Online Etymology Dictionary )

    b

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