Article published in:Lexique, Syntaxe et Lexique-Grammaire / Syntax, Lexis & Lexicon-Grammar: Papers in honour of Maurice Gross
Edited by Christian Leclère, Éric Laporte, Mireille Piot and Max Silberztein
[Lingvisticæ Investigationes Supplementa 24] 2004
► pp. 527–545
Shall we hors d’œuvres? The Assimilation of Gallicisms into English
The dialects of the region now known as France have been contributing words and idioms to the English language for the last millennium. These Gallicisms serve a number of purposes, from filling lacunae, to associating the writer with French sophistication and style, to creating particular stylistic effects in writing and speech. This study takes a subset of established Gallicisms, which are formally and stylistically capable of evoking Frenchness, and examines their linguistic treatment in English. Sometimes they are used just as they are in French. Some uses are simply inaccurate by French standards: in relation to gender and number agreement, and to spelling. Other uses are unconventional by French standards but represent the standard English practices of modifying foreign loans to fit English norms; these include the possible conflation of formal and orthographic variants of a Gallic phrase, the tendency to employ a word across a range of grammatical and syntactic classes, and the use of word play. The study concludes with the impressionistic observation that English seems to assimilate French as much as modern French is 'invaded' by English.
Published online: 29 July 2004