Thursday, January 7, 2010

English in the News

When we wake up in the morning, not having NPR available, Susie and I listen to France Info, a 24-hours news service, which is roughly the audio version of CNN Headline News before it turned into a succession of tabloid shows like Nancy Grace. The main newsreader is a woman who speaks so fast that I sometimes have trouble keeping up. One of things I've noticed is that words from English creep into the reports. These words give an idea of what is, apparently, not easily expressed in French; these include the sublime and the prosaic. Over the last week, for example, I heard these words and phrases: "best of," "moon boots," "mobile home," "smiley" (i.e., smiley face), and, improbably enough, "sexy." The French Academy develops official words for many foreign expressions, such as "couriel" for "e-mail," and these are taken up into everyday discourse. But there are expressions for which the French language may not have a need, and perhaps "moon boots" is one of these.

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