Quiz: French words no longer used in French
Read the paragraph below; even if you don’t think you speak French, you’ll probably understand exactly what is being said…
Imagine a rather bijou little hotel tucked away down a Parisian cul-de-sac, the kind with a rather louche air of faux decadence where the ensuite has a bidet and every night there’s a cabaret in the café. Look at the rather risqué accoutrements of that brunette chanteuse – she’s bursting with joie de vivre, if that’s not a double entendre too far: with that décolletage, she is almost au naturel. (I hope that wasn’t a faux pas on my part. Perhaps I should crawl back under the duvet.) She has a good rapport with the audience, anyway, in lieu of a good voice: a certain je ne sais quoi… In fact, that rather bourgeois gentleman over there sipping an apéritif is experiencing quite a frisson, as is the jolly-looking bon viveur in the corner. Perhaps they live in a ménage à trois. Is she going to do an encore? She’s closed her eyes – what’s next, a séance? I feel we’re experiencing a little déjà-vu – is this all a charade?
This highly – and unapologetically – contrived paragraph has been spun into existence to give a flavour of just how many words English speakers sprinkle into our everyday conversation that we have borrowed, in one way or another, from the French language. However, if you were to point out these words to a native French speaker, they would look baffled at quite a few of them. Can you guess which of the italicized words are used with the same meaning by French speakers today? We’ve compiled most of them into a quiz for you to tackle. (And do let us know if you can think of any other examples!)