Word of the Day

From today’s Times concise crossword:

Jalousie – a blind or shutter made of a row of angled slats

Origin: French, literally ‘jealousy’, also by extension ‘screen’ associated with the screening of women from view in the Middle East.

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Word of the Day

There are many French words or phrases frequently used in daily speech. Why do we use them instead of using the English translations? There are perhaps 3 main reasons for this:

  1. Aesthetics – the foreign version is often more visually appealing
  2. Auditory flow – the foreign version sounds nicer and smoother as opposed to the English version which may be more clumsy or blunt
  3. Meaning – the translated version just doesn’t have the same nuance, connotation or deepness.

Some of these include:

noblesse oblige – the moral obligation of those of high birth, powerful social position etc to act with honour, kindliness, generosity etc. In French the term literally means ‘nobility obligates’ and is generally used to mean that with wealth, power and prestige comes responsibilities.

raison d’etre – reason or justification for existence.

a la carte – ordering individual meals as opposed to a set fixed-price menu.

fait accompli – something that has already happened and is therefore unlikely to be reversed.