If you have ever been bamboozled by the use of a foreign word or phrase, or simply want to spice up your vocabulary with some well-chosen bons mots, then this is the book for you.
Thousands of foreign words and phrases have been absorbed into the language and are currently used in English, from the everyday (macho, tete-a-tete, spaghetti) to the relatively obscure (ultra vires, auto-da-fe).
Faux Pas focuses on familiar terms and expressions as well as those that are new, curious or amusing. Each expression is 'translated', with an indication of its language of origin and pronunciation, a comment on its usefulness and a Pretentiousness Index.
This book is a logophile's delight. Another book filled with words from another language, and unlike The Meaning of Tingo, Faux Pas includes all the foreign words that actually are used in the English language.
Ever wondered where 'et al' came from? Ever wondered how to pronounce 'Bons-mots'? Want to know the meaning of 'Cordon bleu'? or how to spell 'Schadenfreud'? If the answer to any of those questions is an emphatic 'YES', then this book is a must, no - a MUST, for you.
Each word or phrase in the book comes with a handy phonetic pronunciation guide, an explanation, an example of use and most useful of all, a pretentiousness rating. Most of the words have a nil rating because they are used frequently in everyday language, but a few have the '!!!' pretentiousness rating because, well, they are excruciatingly pretentious!
A number of the words have have a nil and '!' or '!!' rating depending on its use and these are well worth paying attention to, because sooner or later you will see the pretentiousness of language creeping into daily useage.
I'm already a fan of this book, and can see this book making its way onto the book shelves of journalists; given time, I can see this book being updated regularly and soon becoming a world standard, and oft copied book, along the lines of Roget's Thesaurus, Fowlers Usage, and Brewer's Phrase and Fable.
Anyone who has an interest in words will love this book.
Oh, and the most pretentious words with a !!! rating?
'Moi' obviously. Says it all really. 'Au Contraire' naturally enough just begged to be included and everyone would agree. And the others? Well, have a look for yourself. You will not regret it.
Random listing from 'Books'...
"As we Otago lads have only enough men for two squadrons, the General has decided that we are to be merged with the incoming Maori contingents to form a new battalion. Our new battalion will be 'Pioneers', doing behind-the-lines work: building barracks, railroads, roads and trenches. As you can imagine, Father, we're not happy - we want to fight, not dig holes."
When Leith NcArran signed up to fight in a war half a ... more...
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"Did you ever notice that when you blow in a dog's face, he gets mad at you, but when you take him on a car ride, he sticks his head out the window?"