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January 29, 2014

Foreign Words And A Contest

The English language has always absorbed and adopted foreign phrases. Some become familiar, some become obsolete, and some just plain....

...wear out their welcome.

But, even those we eventually discard hold a specific meaning that may not be easily filled by another, more 'English' word.

Do you ever use the words 'mensch' or 'schadenfreude'?

Both of these words have quite distinct, specialized meanings. 'Mensch' basically means a real man, a man who is reliable and responsible, someone who can be counted on.

'Schadenfreude' refers to the (usually forbidden) delight one takes in the tragedy of someone who is disliked. This might be seen as the opposite of jealousy or the satisfaction one takes in having one's enemy suffer.

If you have any ideas for good replacement words for these, here's a contest to find a replacement for a few of the foreign words - http://www.npr.org/2014/01/29/268404364/time-to-retire-these-imported-words-but-how-to-replace-them.

And, for something completely different, as we all know, sometimes a picture can be worth a thousand words. Take a look at this graffiti of Pope Francis - http://www.npr.org/blogs/parallels/2014/01/29/268361194/on-a-roman-street-graffiti-celebrates-superpope.

I have to admit that, even though I'm not Catholic, I love this Pope. I can only hope that he is just the beginning of healing and restorative leaders across faith and politics.

As always, send us any new words or phrases (or even pictures) that baffle you and be sure to let us know what it is about English and language learning that you find confounding, infuriating or endlessly intriguing.

Listen, read and speak. Make your new language your own.

My best to you as you make your way through this intriguing , constantly shifting linguistic landscape.


Posted by mmorf at January 29, 2014 09:27 PM


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