wordplay – jeux de mots

A final post in this series deals with the use of French in the English language. Sadly, many of the most commonly used French words in the English language are not really worth much consideration here, but some are worth celebrating and some are worth our abhorrence.

Raison d’etre

Reason for being.

Hors d’oeuvres

Outside the meal – or appetizer


A drink before diner

Au contraire

on the contrary

Chef d’oeuvre


Creme brulee

Literally, burnt cream – but oh so much better

Esprit de corps

Team spirit

and here comes the abhorrence…

Reste avec

A “stay with”. The name given to Haitian children sold into slavery to another family. I was heartbroken to view to this report on 60 minutes.


but to end on a hopeful note, a

Mise en scene

from this op/ed piece in the New York Times – a “put in place” possiblity for the future –  http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/19/opinion/19brooks.html?emc=eta1

Words can be for play, but they can also be a source of powerful change.

N’est ce pas?

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