Questions about words borrowed by English from another language.

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11
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5answers
1k views

Diacriticals and non-English letters in anglicized loan words: keep 'em, dump 'em, italicize the words, or what?

Take an expression like déjà vu. This is a French term which is frequently seen in English. In fact, it is included in English dictionaries. But it is often seen in English in a variety of forms: ...
1
vote
6answers
3k views

Does 'soi-disant' have a close English equivalent?

I considered 'self-proclaimed' but that, I believe, suggests an element of self-promotion (the proclamation aspect) whereas soi-disant, at least as I think of it, is more about self-presentation and ...
9
votes
3answers
57k views

Does the casual use of “a la ___” in English preserve the French meaning?

In English, we use a la carte and a la mode, but it is also common for people to add their own word to the basic construction. For example, one might comment on someone's dancing: He showed us ...
5
votes
1answer
649 views

What's the term for flickering eye movement

If you're looking out of the window of a moving train and at things as they go by (rather than a single object that you're leaving behind), your eyes appear to be flickering. There's a specific term ...
17
votes
8answers
3k views

How should foreign words (with foreign characters) be written in English text?

This question is not about italicisation or how to construct plurals. I wonder what are general guidelines for writing foreign words based on a Latin alphabet in English text. I know that, for ...
9
votes
2answers
18k views

How is the word “qua” used?

I play Scrabble. I'm learning words with the letter 'q'. What is the usage of the word 'qua'?
3
votes
6answers
421 views

How do you say 'Twisted' Congress power balance?

Currently Japan’s ruling party (Democratic Party) holds a majority in the Lower House, but fewer seats in the Upper House than the opposition party (Liberal Democratic Party). We call the state of ...
3
votes
1answer
166 views

Literal echelons?

Merriam-Webster and the OED list only figurative senses of the word echelon (i.e. military formations and organizational ranks). Would it be incorrect to use it in the literal sense of the French word ...
8
votes
1answer
2k views

Why is baba ghanouj pronounced with a final “sh” sound?

Baba ghanouj is a delicious Middle Eastern dip made from roast eggplant and garlic. I've found the name spelled a multitude of different ways on the internet, but there are two peculiar things about ...
9
votes
2answers
555 views

Do the Eskimo/Inuit languages really have more words for snow than English

I've read in some sources that there are more words in the Eskimo/Inuit language to describe types of snow that have arisen out of necessity. I've also read in other sources that this is just urban ...
6
votes
1answer
922 views

Interjection “et voilà”

I know et voilà is a French interjection and means there it is. It is very much used in the US. Why is the use of et voilà so popular in the US? Which historical fact has made it so popular?
10
votes
6answers
3k views

fait accompli – to italicize, or not to italicize

Background I was looking up the rule about italicizing foreign phrases and found an apparent consensus that the criterion is if the phrase is familiar. Well, who gets to decide that? I know perfectly ...
5
votes
3answers
8k views

How do I pronounce Gaudí, the architect?

How do I pronounce 'Gaudi', in the name of Antoni Gaudí (the architect)?
7
votes
4answers
2k views

Plurals of foreign words

What rules of thumb govern when to pluralise a foreign word as it should be in the original language and when it should be pluralised as an English word? For example, you'd get some funny looks using ...
7
votes
3answers
6k views

Naïve, naïf, naïvety, naïveté

I have two related questions about the word "naïve" and its relatives. The first is, shouldn't it be "naïf" if the subject is male? I've been told that it's correct to use the correct ending of ...
7
votes
2answers
684 views

Etymology of “Spaghetti and gravy”

In Nero Wolfe "Before I die", the gangster's sidekick asks for spaghetti and gravy. After Wolfe's chef Fritz prepares him spaghetti with the type of gravy used for roast beef, it turns out that the ...
13
votes
6answers
2k views

Should nouns borrowed from Japanese be pluralized?

As someone who has watched a lot of subtitled Japanese animation, it seems odd to hear a word such as ninja (used in the plural) in the dialogue and see it transliterated as ninjas. It somehow seems ...