“Few days ago, I went to a cafe, with a highly soigné kind of decor. The atmosphere was filled with a strange mixture of feminine flowery eau de toilette and expensive cigar! Young demoiselles a la mode, with their haute couture little robe noir, and tres chic little purses! Joie de vivre and savoir faire… Voila!! ”
23 words out the 56 making the above paragraph, are French! And you perfectly understood what I meant! A coincidence? Certainly not! It is estimated that 70% of the words used in the English language are the same or very similar to the French equivalent words!! Surprised? I was too, when I started learning English! As a French speaker -or should I say Francophone?- I always wondered why would a rich and complex language such as English, need to “borrow” words from another foreign one! And why French? Why not Italian, Spanish or any other Latin language? And does using French words somehow makes you more sophisticated and elegant? Thus the need to show off and humbly brag about your skills? Dear reader, if you think you will find an answer to the above questions, let me apologies to you in advance, because I have none! No matter how many times I checked with “Monsieur” Google, I still can’t figure out why! Why do we use French words in English?!
I do tolerate words like : Chauffeur, valet or even ballet, however, I am certain words such as Chef-d’oeuvre or fin de siècle, can be traded for something more…English! I also understand such things happening in the 18th century, when rich French aristocrats were finding refuge in London; but now in the 21st century, it does seem a little absurd to me.
I am very intrigued to know what grammarians think of this matter. Is it the lack of words? Or the urge to be better, and more “Chic”? Or is it simply a habit?
What do you think….?