Foreign words in English

photoOn holiday this year, I noted how foreign words had been borrowed and sometimes adapted into the French language: “sandwichs” and “paninis” being two examples. There are many such loan words in English, and I wondered how many I could use to describe my holiday.


Having arrived at our holiday home on the beautiful island of Corsica, we started the climb of 50 steps up to the apartment.  Perhaps a holiday chalet would have been a better idea? I can certainly see why older people prefer bungalows!  After we had dumped our suitcases, we headed up onto the roof terrace, with its stunning views of the port and the old town of Porto Vecchio.  The sight of swifts gliding past, and the bells ringing in the ancient cathedral made a delightful setting as we dined al fresco, and then took an afternoon nap or siesta on the comfy chairs provided.  This is the life!

Later we strolled down to the town square to hit the shops.  As well as essentials – shampoo, and teabags  for a nice cup of cha later , we came across richly decorated kaftans, and bandannas decorated with the Corsican symbol of the Moor’s head.  We were drawn into the delicatessen by the aromas of local hams and cheeses, as well as honey and the local “macquis” herbs used to flavour the traditional dishes.  Delicious!

In the evenings we indulged in an aperitif of Cap Corse, a rich liqueur made with myrtle and quinine, before choosing from the menu.  Wishing each other “bon appétit”, we tried the local wild boar stew (civet), or delicious Italian pasta dishes, cooked perfectly, al dente.

On a boat trip from the port of Bonifacio, our jaws dropped at the truly spectacular limestone rock formations, and the houses precariously balanced on the edge of the cliffs.  Moored in the harbour, the catamarans and yachts of the glamorous jet-set were equally splendid.  After this we made for the beach, with its golden sands and azure, turquoise waters.  By this time the sun was shining, and we retreated from the heat to the cool of our parasol.

Watching the World Cup in the town bar was great fun.  France did well, which was good! I was pleased we didn’t have to hear the pundits droning on ad nauseam about England.  When we lost again, there was a serious feeling of déjà vu!  Luckily, my husband is Scottish.

The last morning came, and after a blitz on the apartment, we drove off to the airport, hoping it wouldn’t be a case of umbrellas and anoraks on our return.  Can’t wait to show everyone my photographs!


A Rough Guide:

a chalet  (Swiss French) – (a building, often in the garden or built for holidays.)
an aperitif (an alcoholic drink before a meal)
bon appétit (good eating – we don’t have an expression in English)
a menu (a list of food available)
a liqueur (a sweet, flavoured alcoholic drink)
a parasol (to protect you from the sun)
déjà vu  ( a sense of something happening in the past)

dolce vita (the good life)
al fresco (outdoors)
al dente (not overcooked)
an umbrella  (a device to protect against the rain)

Cha (tea – informal)

A delicatessen  (a shop selling cooked meats, cheeses etc)
A blitz (to have a blitz -to clean up quickly)

shampoo (a soap for washing your hair)
a bandanna  (for your head)
a pundit (Sanskrit) (an expert)

a bungalow ( a single-storey dwelling)

a yacht ( a large boat)

an anorak (a waterproof coat)

a siesta (a light sleep after lunch)

a catamaran (a double-hulled boat)

a kaftan (a long, loose  robe)

an aroma  (a distinct, but pleasant smell)
ad nauseam (when something has been discussed for too long!)

Ancient Greek (derived from):
A photograph (a picture taken by a camera)

A sandwich(es) – (made with a filling between two slices of bread)
Panino/panini – (Italian – a sandwich made with unsliced bread)

This is not intended to be a definitive explanation, so if you would like further information, please check out the following or similar:

Cambridge Dictionaries Online
How j Say for pronunciation
Online Etymology Dictionary

Anne Fraser (englishanne) is a qualified CTEFLA tutor of EFL and ESOL.  She has been working as a tutor since 1996, previously in Further Education Colleges and more recently online via virtual learning platforms and Skype.  She tutors for exams including CAE, FCE and IELTS as well as providing conversation and business English.

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