Certain "Je Ne Sais Quoi", A: The Origin of Foreign Words Used in English [NOOK Book]

Overview

"English doesn't borrow from other languages. English follows other languages down dark alleys, knocks them over, and goes through their pockets for loose grammar."
-James D. Nicoll

Organized alphabetically for easy reference, A Certain "Je Ne Sais Quoi" is an accessible lexicon of foreign words and phrases used in English, containing everything from aficionado (Spanish) to zeitgeist (German). Inside you'll ...
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Certain

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Overview

"English doesn't borrow from other languages. English follows other languages down dark alleys, knocks them over, and goes through their pockets for loose grammar."
-James D. Nicoll

Organized alphabetically for easy reference, A Certain "Je Ne Sais Quoi" is an accessible lexicon of foreign words and phrases used in English, containing everything from aficionado (Spanish) to zeitgeist (German). Inside you'll find translations, definitions, origins, and a descriptive timeline of each item's evolution. Entries include:
  • À la carte: from the card or of the menu (French)
  • Fiasco: complete failure (Italian)
  • Dungarees: thick cotton cloth/overalls (Hindi)
  • Diaspora: dispersion (Greek)
  • Smorgasbord: bread and butter (Swedish)
  • Cognoscenti: those who know (Italian)
  • Compos mentis: having mastery of one's mind; with it (Latin)
Attractively packaged with black and white illustrations, this whimsical yet authoritative book is a great gift for any etymologically fascinated individual. Use this book to reacquaint yourself with the English language, and you'll be compos mentis in no time.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781606522769
  • Publisher: Reader's Digest Association, Incorporated, The
  • Publication date: 10/19/2010
  • Sold by: SIMON & SCHUSTER
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 176
  • Sales rank: 1,230,357
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

Chloe Rhodes is a freelance journalist who has worked for The Telegraph, Guardian and The Times as well as numerous other respected publications. She lives in North London with her husband.
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 7, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Useful for writers and readers

    This is a great new reference work that you might just find yourself curling up with as if it were a novel. It explores 'the origin of foreign words used in English', and some of them are pretty amusing.

    For example, our term paparazzi referred to the Italian word for mosquito and was related to a Fellini film (how appropriate is that!). And when you say someone has a lot of panache, you probably aren't referring to the feather on their hat, but that is where the word derives from: a plume of feather that exuded flair (French origin). Now we consider panache more of an expression of style (i.e. Johnny Depp has the trademark on panache)! Another interesting word in our literary world is denouement, which originated in the French and referred to 'an untying'. That makes sense, as when we get to the denouement of the book all the complexities usually are unravelled and our understanding is clear.

    I enjoyed the different choices of phrases and the accurate explanation of what they originally meant. I always thought Quid Pro Quo meant doing something for free, somewhat mixing it up with Pro Bono. Both of my interpretations were wrong: quid pro quo means something done in exchange for something else (not free). Pro Bono means something done 'for the good' as in a public service.

    This is a reference work useful to almost anyone, but I can't help but think a high school or college student might especially benefit from the explanations and fast paced instruction. My only disappointment was that the book doesn't offer pronounciations with the phrases. Most are obvious, but a few really could use a guide on how to correctly pronounce the phrase (thus settling many dinner party disputes).

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 10, 2010

    Fascinating!

    This compact book exlains the international origins of many phrases used in English today. From French to Arabic roots, the variety of language backgrounds is impressive. You can read flip around and read bits of it at a tume. My East Indian friend borrowed the book and found it most interesting

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 13, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Word Meanings

    There can't be a more American word than "dungarees", right? Actually, according to author Chloe Rhodes, the word dungarees comes from a Hindi word Dungri which is a cotton cloth used for sails and tents in India. This is the type of word information contained in A Certain Je Ne Sais Quoi.

    Listed alphabetically, the book gives not only the origin of the words we use, but also how they became included in our language. Many of the words we hear regularly, kowtow, alma mater, kudos, and glitch, have their origins in other countries around the world. How appropriate is the origin of the word "paparazzi" which is an Italian word for mosquitoes!

    This is an entertaining book filled with information for those with an interest in words and for those who want to use them correctly. This is the most recent book in a series by Reader's Digest.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 29, 2010

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    Posted January 4, 2011

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