Jul 18, 2022 • 5M


Word (Audio)

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Episode details

It's funny, the sort of place one language adopts in the minds — the ears — of their neighbors who speak another language. For English speakers, Italian is the preeminent language of love. Not German, which is what you might speak to your horse. German sounds rough and guttural to us, when really it is a delightful and musical language. For English speakers, French has "signified" the SUAVE (a French word), the CHIC (a French word), the DE LUXE (a French phrase). So we can't call it a LONG CHAIR; it has to be a CHAISE LONGUE, which American speakers mangle, pronouncing it a CHAISE LOUNGE, because that's what they aim to do on it. Of course, “French” has also, and not coincidentally, signified the foppish and the EFFETE — to Englishmen. I suppose “English” signifies to French speakers a certain bluff boorishness. “A nation of shopkeepers,” snorted Napoleon.

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