Ever noticed how many French words we Americans use (and butcher?) every day? While it’s certainly la mode to use French words in English conversation, it’s hardly avant-garde. French words have been part of English conversations since the Norman Conquest, when William the Conqueror of France became King of England in 1066. For 300 years French was the language of the court and of culture in England, during which time more than 10,000 French words were adopted into the English lexicon.
But enough with the history! (If you’re wondering, I’m working on a cross-cultural article for a French magazine…) I just adore the fact that there is such a relationship between French and English.
Of course, we English speakers do have to put our own spin on the vocabulary, sometimes changing the meaning altogether.
Take, for example, the expression à la mode. Most Americans envision a piece of pie with a scoop of ice cream on top. You know, “pie allah modie,” as Steve Carell says in Little Miss Sunshine. How in the world did it become common knowledge that a scoop of ice cream on top was the “fashionable” way to eat pie? I’d like to know what would happen if I ordered a pie “démodé.”
So, you might be wondering what I am up to these days? (I have cleverly been posting on France/French culture from afar…) Long story short, I’m looking square in the face of “Challenge 2011”: three months, one tourist visa, a few connections, and one goal. Yes, you could call Challenge 2011 a job-search. A highly motivated, slightly daunting, more-or-less experimental, loosely organized, foreign country job-search with a Christmas present deadline (otherwise known as the expiration of my tourist visa).
After three months on the Kentucky farm, I’ve decided that this Survivor-style challenge is what I need (also known as: the only choice I have to return to France). At the end of September, I’ll be packing my bags.
You remember Jason from the plane? I’m reflecting on his words right now. This is my “something drastic,” my “something scary.” But I’m trying to replace my fear of the unknown with curiosity. We’ll see what I come up with.
I’m glad you’ll be along for the ride!
…P.S. Click here for Destiny’s Child’s totally American take on pie a la mode, and a laugh.
Photo Credits (images 1 and 3): Google images