English is pretty much the most dynamic language on Earth, having adopted tons of words from practically every other tongue on the globe.
But on there are still a few untucked conceptual or expressive corners it could use some help with.
And while every day English continues to batter its walls, French, which loaned so many words to English 800 years ago, could help plug some of these gaps if we let it.
So are nine words or concepts that only exist in French.
The act of a jack-arse.
Mise en abyme
This is the word for when you’re standing between two mirrors and you see an infinite regression of yourself. It’s also commonly used to describe self-referential works in a novel or play.
Something awesome that was discovered by chance or stumbled upon.
Pure, sure of oneself, lacking neurotic hangups or socio-cultural pressures.
Droit a l’oubli
“Right to oblivion.” There are now guidelines, signed in 2010, applying to search engines that automatically cache pages on social media — basically, they’re not really allowed to. “We don’t hate what the Internet stands for — there’s a lot of material online that should be kept. But in certain cases, we’d prefer to have the ability to erase them,” Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, who put together the guidelines (and who just lost hte race for mayor in Paris), said upon signing the guidelines.
To impugn with bad intentions — to suggest that someone or something is inherently bad. Often used in discussing politics.
To feel displaced from one’s native land or familiar routine.
An informal but widely set of rules for a profession. Also a philosophical concept denoting a set of actions taken out of duty, rather than consequence.
France’s aggressive form of separation between church and state. The country would never allow a voting booth to be placed in a church, for instance, even if it would be the most expedient means of holding an election in a small town.
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