Vendredi de Vocabulaire: Borrowing from English

Languages exchange words all the time. English is full of words that come from other languages, especially French, but also Spanish (patio, canyon), Japanese (animé, haiku), Sanskrit (avatar, guru), and some African languages (gumbo). Usually there’s some change in the meaning of the word as it passes from one language to another.

These days, English and American culture is spreading globally, and English words are infiltrating other languages. Last November from Jennifer Wagner shared a link to a list of French words that seem to have come from English via her twitter account (@ielanguages). The way the meaning of these words has changed is rather amusing.

Update on Life and Writing

I realized two things recently. One, the obvious, is that I haven’t been updating much at all recently. The second is that you probably have no idea why. I’ve been remarkably busy during the last seven months or so, doing the following:

Another part of why I haven’t been writing as much is that I’ve been posting more things, mostly links to cool news articles, on twitter and facebook. These two short-form social media do seem ideal for sharing quick “this is cool” links. Still, it sees like it should be possible to maintain both a blog and a presence on short-form social media, if I make the time. There are certainly far busier people out there who manage to.

As part of the effort to blog more, I plan on starting a weekly post on French vocabulary that I’ve encountered through reading, listening to podcasts, and other means. I’ll also continue to post book reviews, and I’ll try to include updates on the writing projects I’m working on.

I’m actually really excited about my writing projects. There are two: one about werewolves, and one that I’ll call the shipping project, although the connection to ships is rather loose. At the moment I have 8,500 words for the first and 15,000 for the second. My primary project is the werewolf one, though, so that’s what you’ll probably hear more about—although most likely in very vague terms. I tend to be a bit secretive about my writing when I’m working on it.

Faux Amis

Most languages have false cognates: words that look similar in different languages but have different meanings. I’m familiar with many of the ones for English and French—which are often referred to as faux amis or false friends. I recently encountered a new set of faux amis, though: balade and balader.

While there is a french word ballade (feminine) which means ballad, balade (also feminine) means a walk or a ride, and balader means to go for a walk or ride or, in its transitive sense, to take someone or something for a walk or ride.

Adding to my confusion was the fact that the French word for podcast, in addition to podcast (probably masculine), is baladodiffusion. I’m guessing baladodiffusion is feminine since diffusion is feminine, but I could be wrong. Baladodiffusion is also sometimes abbreviated as balado, and an iPod or walkman is a baladeur (masculine) (but walkman [masculine] is also used).