English has borrowed more words from French than from any other modern foreign language. French words and phrases—such as à la mode, ennui, naïveté and caprice—lend English a certain je-ne-sais-quoi that would otherwise elude the language. Richard Scholar examines the continuing history of untranslated French words in English and asks what these words reveal about the fertile but fraught relationship that England and France have long shared and that now entangles English- and French-speaking cultures all over the world.
Read the transcript.
About the Author
Richard Scholar is Professor of French at Durham University. His books include The Je-Ne-Sais-Quoi in Early Modern Europe: Encounters with a Certain Something and Montaigne and the Art of Free-Thinking.