A handy guide to the meanings and origins of the many foreign phrases we use every day. English as we know it today is enriched with many borrowings and influences from other languages. Aficionado, chutzpah, pro bono, hoi polloi, ketchup, nous, zeitgeist - we use these foreign words every day without thinking of their origins, but what do they actually mean? And just how and why did we English speakers absorb such exotic imports? Each phrase has a fascinating history; colonialism, foreign trade, invasion and immigration all have their role to play in the evolution of our language. Did you know, for example, that 'lingua franca' is Italian for 'Frankish language' - a name given to a mixed common language used by diplomats of different nationalities in medieval times? Or that the seemingly modern 'bandana' comes from the Sanskrit for the ancient Indian technique of tie-dying fabric? A Certain Je Ne Sais Quoi is an accessible and entertaining treasury of information that 'connoisseurs' (French) of the English language will love!
A Certain Je Ne Sais Quoi is an accessible and entertaining treasury of information that 'connoisseurs' (French) of the English language will love!
Chloe Rhodes is a freelance writer and journalist whose work has appeared in The Daily Telegraph, The Times and The Independent on Sunday, as well as in several other national publications. Her previous books include A Certain Je Ne Sais Quoi: Words We Pinched From Other Languages and One For Sorrow: A Book of Old-Fashioned Lore, both published by Michael O'Mara Books.