It is good to know that humans aren’t the only ones who are fond of borrowing but, have you ever seriously thought of why languages too
borrow words or phrases from other languages. For me as a linguist, this has made for a curious topic. Do some speakers feel that their language is inadequate to express or drive across a certain message?.
Regardless of one’s response to the above question, this is a concept that I find most beautiful. My own conclusion is that the words or phrases borrowed are able to deliver the target message more effectively in their borrowed form than the words of the original language.
Let us look at some examples of some borrowed words and see how they perform in their new setting. Why don’t we start with one phrase that pops up across several scenarios in the English language. And that is none other than ‘Laissez Faire’. Most of us have heard of, or used the phrase. It’s mostly applied when discussing attitudes or management styles. Ever heard of a laissez faire attitude or management style?. This phrase is borrowed from French and is actually derived from two verbs, Laisser (to leave as in leave alone, let be or allow) and Faire (to do, accomplish as in a task). That would be their literal translation in French. In English, they’re used to describe a relaxed attitude, or approach. Probably casual would be more appropriate, but not in glowing terms. A student whose approach to studying is laissez faire will not be acing their exams, unless they’re overly brilliant and have no need to study. Likewise, if your manager’s approach to job supervision is laissez faire, believe me, they will not be up for the manager of the year honors at the close of the year. Unless they’re being judged on something else other than merit.
Our next example is one that should resonate with everybody. Try this. CHEF. To most people in the English language, a Chef is the guy/lady who prepares your meal at a restaurant. So, in everyday verbiage, we’d be speaking of a cook. This is another word borrowed from French, but the catch is that Chef doesn’t mean cook in French. Whenever it’s used in connection with cuisine in French, it’s referring to the head of the kitchen (or the person running the operations in the kitchen). Chef de Cuisine, or Chef de partie which literally means the Boss in the kitchen. So, next time somebody tells you ‘salut chef ‘ in French, they’re not referring to the person who prepares their meal at a restaurant, they’re saying ‘hi boss’. And who doesn’t want to be one?. For tips on how to prepare or succeed in studying a foreign language, please, visit my blog @ www.yourfluency.blogspot.com. I’m a linguist who is fluent in Spanish and French, among other languages.