Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Strangers- it's now!

You have to give it to them: the French do try. To make us English feel at home, that is. The way they use English and Englishy-sounding words so that the French language isn't too much of a shock.

Thinking about the ongoing storage problem in our house, I turned to Ikea Toulouse. There's work going on there, apparently, and they've closed off some parts of the store. I was astonished to read that "Un relooking spectaculaire du libre service marché" was one of the developments - a makeover for the self-service market. A relooking?!? Where did that one come from?

I guess it's the newest member of that small family of -ing words that have been put into French for us.

It started with a parking - what we in Britain would call a car park. As French wikipedia says: "Le mot parking n'a pas ce sens dans la langue anglaise et constitue donc un faux anglicisme." Yes, don't be pedantic, I know that parking came from the French parc, and I've also  read that before that it was the word for an enclosure or fence.

Shampooing is a strange one. As an Englishman, my first understanding of the word shampoo is as product, the stuff you get in the bottle .(Although it does come, via an interesting history, from the Hindi word for a massage, chāmpo, चाँपो) Like parking, it seems like the action has become the thing in French. It has the added twist of a strange pronunciation, just to keep us on our toes: shompwung.

Along the same lines, in the forest there is a Parcours Footing. Footing?!? I think it means jogging -  "de l’anglais foot avec suffixe -ing, et pourtant pure création française."

And then last of all - for now - meeting. This has the same meaning as in English. But the puzzle is why it's used all the time, when there is the perfectly good word réunion??

So, thank you for the gesture, France. I am  looking forward to meeting new members of the family to appear. Or should that be relooking forward?

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