Un relooking

31.10.10 § 4 commentarii

That's French for makeover. I have a terrible weakness for French "English" words, such as le shampooing for "shampoo" or le footing for "jogging". Generally they're comprised of an English word (not neccessarily a verb) with the suffix -ing. Given that the majority of the words so formed do not have an actual English counterpart, this is a fairly remarkable phenomenon: French speakers have created a productive derivational affix from a piece of bound morphology in another language. Most French people are genuinely surprised to learn that we simply don't form words in this way in English, and can be somewhat hurt when confronted with the gales of laughter which ensue when they try to use these formations in English[1]. The suffix is highly marked, of course, and is still perceived to be the marker of an "English" word: this is probably why it is applied with such freedom to loanwords which lack it in English. This kind of hyper-foreignisation is actually quite common in languages: most English speakers pronounce the j's in "Beijing" and "Azerbaijan" as a fricative /ʒ/, the sound found in pleasure, in spite of the fact that the native pronunciations of both have the j's sounding a lot more like the affricate /dʒ/, as found in English judge. We just perceive /ʒ/ as being a more "foreign" sound, and ipso facto, that's the one we use with foreign words.

Le relooking is particularly interesting, as it represents a logical progression of word-formation. The English word look was borrowed into French meaning "image" or "style", a meaning it continues to have. The process of changing one's look, then, would obviously be un relooking: formed with the prefix re-, which has the same meaning in English, and the "look! this is a cool English word"-suffix -ing. And, to return to my point, that's what this blog has had (as you can no doubt see).

For a reason which is as yet unknown to me, I've translated the titles of all the widgets and so on into Latin. This is entirely pointless (and rather pretentious), given that in spite of the latinate title of the blog, I don't actually post in Latin. I did consider Greek, but feared losing readers. Besides, I don't like the way οἱ ἑπέται looks. Additionally, for maximum viewing pleasure, can I suggest that the gentle reader gently download the blog's default font, Gentium. It's very pretty, I promise you, and it will make reading the strange characters I'm given to using when writing Gallo-Brittonic (as in tou ambaχtos etic u̯ossos īsselos emmi) far easier and more aesthetically pleasing.

Also, to avoid confusion, the comments link is now at the top of each post, just after the signum sectionis §.

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1) Personally, I find it cute when French people calque expressions and idioms directly into English. I remember a girl who worked for me at Harry's: as a favour to one of the waiters, we'd taken her on as a cleaner, in spite of the fact that she spoke no English at all. However, it turned out that she worked with indefatigable energy and became rapidly popular among the managers because she was the ideal worker: she never complained and just got on with the job. Actually, she did complain- near-constantly, in fact- but as I was the only manager who understood this it went unnoticed. Her English began to slowly improve, and it got to the point where she could communicate with the other managers without needing me as an interpreter. However, I recall one incident where I burst out laughing when, having carefully explained to the General Manager that she "did not arrive to find the key", with genuine consternation he asked her why she had turned up then.

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§ 4 Response to “Un relooking”

  • Frenchie says:

    u̯ossos?

    The French penchant for thinking their strange invented English words are 'cool' is quite beyond me. At least 'shampooing' isn't pronounced like it would be in English.

    I like the minimalist effect your 'relooking' has had.

  • Deiniol says:

    A typo for u̯assos "servant": well caught. Gives Welsh gwas and OI foss.

    And yes, /ʃɑ̃pwɛ̃/ for shampooing is a delightful pronunciation!

  • Yes, nice relooking. Moi aussi j'aimerais faire relooker mon blog, but am clueless as to how to go about it. Did you design it yourself or is it one of the blogger templates?

  • Deiniol says:

    A little of both. The basic template was taken from this site, I then played around with the css in order to get it exactly how I wanted it.

    Using their templates is pretty easy. Just download it and copy the contents of the .xml file into the box on the "Edit HTML" page, which can be found under the "Design" tab from your blog's dashboard. Bonne chance, should you find something you want to give a go!

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