We are all doing it, so let’s just admit it and stop shaming one another, OK? There is absolutely nothing wrong with adding a soupçon (a dash; supsɔ̃) of French to your linguistic daily grind. Get your minds out of the gutter, people, and stop scrutinizing those leaked naked photos, I am simply trying to persuade you into employing foreign words in your everyday English.


I realize that English is a foreign language to most of us and mixing other languages with the already exotic one might seem impractical, over-the-top and show-offy. However, when you actually think about it, you’re using borrowed words and phrases in your mother tongue. Also, you are probably already doing it inadvertently in English as well, so why not start doing it consciously? Words like “amber” (Arabic), “hammock” (Spanish), “intelligentsia” (Russian) are, after all, pretty commonly used, so why not make your English even more festive?

Since Rome wasn’t built in a day, let us assume a five-words-at-a-time attitude and go all around the world – OK, mostly Europe, but if you catch my drift… – in search of some worthy additions to our conventional vocabulary. Here are my first five suggestions:

germane [dʒəːˈmeɪn],

kismet [kɪzmɛt],

fracas [frakɑː],

peccadillo [pɛkəˈdɪləʊ],

cognoscente [kɒgnəˈʃɛnteɪ].

Some of you, e.g. truly dedicated Good Will Hunting fans, have recognized at least one, if not all, of the words above. Now I want you to imagine how impressed your friends will be when you put your knowledge into practice? Imagine such a cross-country linguistic trip:

I do not think asking such questions is germane (relevant and fitting) to our situation. What I do believe is that our meeting was an honest kismet (destiny, fate) of events and this whole fracas (quarrel; plural US fracases, UK fracas) over who had seen whom first is unnecessary. True, I usually enjoy fighting over the smallest of things, I mean everybody has their own pecadillos (minor faults), but as a sort of cognoscente (connoisseur; plural cognoscenti) of my peculiar behavior, you should know better than to provoke me.

Good news! You have just been to France (twice, actually, since germane is of Old French origin and fracas is 18th century French), Turkey (kismet), Spain (peccadillo) and Italy (cognoscente). Did you enjoy our little voyage (Old French)?