French in English

29% {twenty nine per cent}

It is estimated that some 10,000 purely French words are used in English — around 29 per cent of the total. The focus here will be on a few French phrases that are seen as still being ‘French imports.’ These you will sometimes see in italics when used in English text (but the more frequently used, the less so). A great many of the other French words have become so ingrained into English that they are actually considered as English ones (e.g., voyeur, sabotage, entrepreneur, critique, ballet) and thus, aren’t italisised.


Latin words make up around another 30 per cent of today’s modern English vocabulary. For Latin terms used in academic English click here.


Apropos

preposition
With reference to something/someone. “Jameela remarked apropos the seminar, ‘It’s not going to cut ice with the other side.'”

adjective
Very appropriate to a particular situation. “The book’s reference to power politics is apropos for the current situation.”


Art nouveau

A style of decorative art, architecture, and design prominent in western Europe and the USA from about 1890 until the First World War (1914) and characterised by intricate linear designs and flowing curves based on natural forms.


Au fait

To have a good or detailed knowledge of something. “Jameela was fully au fait with English literature.”


Carte blanche

Literally: “white card” but means to be given the complete freedom to act as one wishes. “The architect given carte blanche to design the house.”


Cliché

A phrase or opinion that is overused (and therefore shows a lack of original thought).


Déjà vu

A feeling of having already experienced the present situation.


De rigueur

Required or expected, especially in terms of following fashion.


Détente

The easing of diplomatic tension. The reduction of problems/hostility, especially between countries. “The UK’s policy of detente acted to improve relations with Russia.”


Façade

The front view of an object (from the Italian facciata, or face). It can also mean a fake persona, as in “putting on a façade” (the ç is pronounced like an s).


Fait accompli

Literally: “accomplished fact.” Something that has already happened and is thus unlikely to be reversed; ‘a done deal.’


Faux pas

“False step”: A breaking of accepted (but unwritten) social rules.


Laissez-faire

(To) “Let do.” This term is often used within the context of economic policy or political philosophy, meaning: leaving something alone, or to not interference with something.


Objet d’art

A work of art, commonly a painting or sculpture; also a utilitarian object displayed for its aesthetic qualities.


Panache

Verve; flamboyance. To do something with panache, is to do that something with style.


Par excellence

“By excellence”: quintessential. The finest example of something.


Pastiche

A derivative work; an imitation; a cheap copy and paste job.


Per se

adverb
By or in itself or themselves; intrinsically. “It is not these facts per se that are important.”


Rapprochement

The establishment of cordial relations, often used in diplomacy.


Raison d’être

The most important reason or purpose for someone or something’s existence.


Riposte

A quick retort in speech or action, or in fencing, a quick thrust after parrying a lunge.


Tête-à-tête

“Head to head.” An intimate get-together or private conversation between two people.


Touché

Acknowledgment of an effective counterpoint; literally ‘touched’ or ‘hit!’


Vis-à-vis

“Face to face [with].” In comparison with or in relation to; opposed to.


Volte-face

A complete reversal of opinion or position, about face.


More cultural and less academic:

Derrière

Rear; buttocks; literally, one’s “behind.”


Dieu et mon droit

“God and my right.” Motto of the British Monarchy; appears on a scroll beneath the shield of the coat of arms of Great Britain.


Enfant terrible

A “terrible child.” A person who behaves in an unconventional or controversial way.


Femme fatale

“Deadly woman”: an attractive woman who seduces and takes advantage of men for her personal goals, after which she discards or abandons them.


Film noir

A genre of dark-themed movies from the 1940s onward that focus on stories of crime and immorality.


Ménage à trois

“Household for three”: a sexual arrangement between three people; a “threesome.”


Renaissance

Rebirth, a cultural movement in the 14-17th centuries.


Voyeur

Literally, “someone who sees.” Somebody who looks at someone without them knowing; a.k.a., a “peeping Tom.”


Sometimes
Sometimes it’s alright not to be alright

J & I || I & J

it is meant to be.

The British Library
It’s open daily, entry’s free, they’ve clean bathrooms and drinking water’s complimentary; the reading rooms and bays have comfortable chairs, are warm and are flooded with daylight.
Talk
We can talk to each other to our heart’s content.
Cycle
We can walk the streets, we can explore all the alleyways and squares, take in the architecture and spend time in every park, museum and art gallery we happen across.
Walk
We could cycle too sometimes, if you fancy that, from here we can take trains to Paris, Amsterdam and Berlin, we can travel by train to Rome and explore Pompeii, we can travel by train to Athens and explore Troy.
Newspapers
We can take the dailies and read them aloud to one another in our humble single bed.
Flowers
We can take some flowers and arrange them nicely in our humble studio flat.

Damned if you do,

(and) damned if you don’t.

While some will know the meanings of these adages:

Damned if you do, damned if you don't
Damned if you do, damned if you don’t
(Caught/Stuck/Trapped) between the devil and the deep blue sea.
(Caught/Stuck/Trapped) between the devil and the deep blue sea.
Between a rock and a hard place.
Between a rock and a hard place.
If you are like me, you’ll not have known that they all stem from:

Being between Scylla and Charybdis

…an idiom deriving from Greek mythology (but doesn’t so much seem to stem from Ancient Greece?!?). Being stuck between Scylla and Charybdis informs the more recent proverbial advice, that is, “to choose the lesser of two evils.” This is true too for the saying, “on the horns of a dilemma.” But nowadays, phrases like: (1) “between the devil and the deep blue sea,” (2) “between a rock and a hard place” and (3), “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” imply both evils are as bad as each other. In essence these phrases now mean having to choose between two equally bad choices which both lead (almost categorically) to disaster. Is this the same as a Hobson’s choice, well yes I think so, see this post: Hobson’s choice, explained. (I mean, there really isn’t a choice is there, take the left fork and you’ll be screwed, take the right fork and you’ll be fucked (either, or, not in any pleasurable sense)).

“Britannia between Scylla and Charybdis.”
A satirical cartoon/sketch commenting on a British political dilemma of yesteryear.
Scylla and Charybdis were mythical sea monsters/dangers noted by Homer in the Iliad. Scylla was said to be a rock shoal (described as a six-headed sea monster) on one side of a Mediterranean strait and Charybdis was a whirlpool off the coast of the other side (they were regarded as maritime hazards located close enough to each other that they posed an inescapable threat to passing sailors)–would either mode of death be the lesser of two evils?

Are these, strictly speaking, allegories? Do they reveal a hidden meaning? Not really. Look here and decide if you agree of disagree: Allegorically speaking…

Anyway,

Now on to the point and purpose of this post:

I am damned if I do

because it was said to me

“If you love me, you’ll leave me the fuck alone”

and thus, by not contacting you, I am currently dying repeatedly on the inside; this occurs during every minute of every waking hour. Therefore, I am:

damned if I don’t.

Get me? Do you get what I’m saying to you my sweet succulent honey bee? I’m dead without you; you became and now are my:

raison d’être

/French noun/
— the most important reason or purpose for someone or something’s existence

The Silken Tent

— Robert Frost (1874–1963)

She is as in a field a silken tent
At midday when the sunny summer breeze
Has dried the dew and all its ropes relent,
So that in guys it gently sways at ease,
And its supporting central cedar pole,
That is its pinnacle to heavenward
And signifies the sureness of the soul,
Seems to owe naught to any single cord,
But strictly held by none, is loosely bound
By countless silken ties of love and thought
To every thing on earth the compass round,
And only by one’s going slightly taut
In the capriciousness of summer air
Is of the slightest bondage made aware.

End notes
1.
‘slightly taut’ 😉 . . . & den sum mor

2.
From tent to lament:

Tent life
The stars at night.
We are all [more or less] in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars. (There’s only one guiding star for me, dear J). We can only guess at which star/s Mr Wilde was gazing up at.
Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963–1995, by Tracey Emin (1995)
Nylon tent (electric blue)
Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963–1995, by Tracey Emin (1995)
The Carnal Prayer Mat, by Li Yu (1693)
Happy campers of yesteryear used ground mats
The Carnal Prayer Mat, a work of fiction by Li Yu (1693) is regularly censored and at times outright forbidden reading; literary critics see its unabashed pornographic nature as an allegoric attack on Confucian puritanism. The prologue states that, ‘sex is healthy when taken as if it were a drug, but not as if it were ordinary food.’
My Bed, by Tracey Emin (1998)
Today’s campers mostly use blowup beds, e.g., ‘The British bed-HEAD.’
My Bed, by Tracey Emin (1998)
Sketch by Tracey Emin (dunno when)
Here’s me bloody hoping
Sketch by Tracey Emin (dunno when)
Tracey Emin and friend (dunno when)
Tracey Emin and friend (dunno when)
Tracey Emin (dunno when)
Tracey Emin (dunno when)
Primavera, by Sandro Botticelli (c. 1479)
Youth’s so ephemeral
Primavera*, by Sandro Botticelli (c. 1479)
*Primavera = Spring