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I think that every learner of a foreign language has to decide at a certain point whether they are going imitate native speakers, so as to be mistaken for something they are not, or to retain something of their own character and nationality.

If you are reading something about food, you might see a complete phrase or sentence in a foreign language appear without explanation. I am thinking particularly of Italian. It used to be common practice at one time for menus to be printed in French.

To answer this question, I would like you to include some good examples, possible in speech as well as in written English.

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closed as not constructive by Andrew Leach, FumbleFingers, Mitch, Barrie England, RegDwigнt Sep 3 '12 at 15:03

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I think this question is Not Constructive. It's okay to use any words/language you like, so long as your audience understands you. In the case of menus even that doesn't matter, since you can always ask the waiter what something means. –  FumbleFingers Sep 3 '12 at 12:15
    
Asking for lists of things is not constructive. In the future, please try to ask more specific questions. –  simchona Sep 3 '12 at 16:03
    
I was trying to address the question of when it is OK to use foreign words and phrases in everyday English. I was starting to develop the idea that the use of foreign words can pass messages about identity. In a similar way to a masonic handshake. –  Robin Michael Sep 3 '12 at 18:42

2 Answers 2

Déjà vu! I think I touched on this in a comment I made earlier today. When is it okay to use a "foreign phrase?" When the listener or reader will be able to figure out what you're talking about.

Some foreign words and phrases become so commonplace that these terms end up with their own entries in the English dictionaries. At that point, they've become adopted into the English language, so one could argue that they're not even "foreign" phrases any more, just acceptable English words with roots in some other original language. Some ad hoc examples would include aloha, hors d'oeuvres, pièce de résistance, and deus ex machina – I could ramble on ad infitinum.

But even words that haven't made that jump in the dictionary will be heard from time to time, especially when it's very basic language that's widely understood. It's not all that uncommon, e.g., to hear English natives use friendly greetings like "¿Cómo estás?" or "Hasta mañana," even when neither person knows more than a handful of Spanish words.

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Chow or should that be "ciao". –  Robin Michael Sep 3 '12 at 11:20
    
Good example; my boss uses "ciao" at the end of his office voice mail greeting. –  J.R. Sep 3 '12 at 11:22
    
The reverse is also true - France atively banned adding English words to the French dictionary as so many wordfs were being adopted. Le Weekend etc. –  Wolf5370 Sep 3 '12 at 11:55

Some foreign words have a unique untranslatable pungency. An example is schadenfreude, a German word that literally translates to "shameful joy". It actually is used to express that frisson (oops foreign word) of joy we get when someone we don't particularly like encounters misfortune.

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Ger. Schadenfreude translates literally to "harm joy" or "injury joy", no "dark" to it. –  StoneyB Sep 3 '12 at 14:19
    
shameful is still the wrong choice. It's rather the opposite what schadenfreude actually means. –  Em1 Sep 3 '12 at 14:27
    
Schade is german for "shame" –  ncmathsadist Sep 3 '12 at 14:46
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Don’t forget Portuguese saudade in this. –  tchrist Sep 3 '12 at 17:05
    
Even if "schade" means "shame" in German, it doesn't mean that there is anything shameful about schadenfreude. More precisely, it isn't always appropriate to parse a word as a means of translating or understanding it, just as the other comments said before me. Schadenfreude is a delightful word to use in everyday English, just as in flagrante delicto is a delightful expression. I would not down vote your answer, as all of it is correct, with the exception of the part about shame. –  Ellie Kesselman Jan 13 '13 at 13:26

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