French Superiority

Mejorar tu vocabulario es sinónimo de mejorar tu speaking. Además, si conoces las palabras correctas y utilizas expresiones naturales, tienes y transmites mucha más seguridad a la hora de hablar.

Nuestros vocabulary posts no están repletos de palabras extrañas que ningún nativo utiliza en su día a día. Todo lo contrario.

El vocabulario en todo el texto es tremendamente útil y al final encontrarás un ejercicio que te vendrá genial para identificar y memorizar nuevo vocabulario. Además, cada semana enviamos las respuestas a ese ejercicio en nuestra newsletter.

Hi, I’m Mick!

I’m an English teacher, and today I’m talking about the French!

Tomorrow, July 14th is a major national holiday in France. The French, with simplicity and elegance, know it as le 14 juillet, which, I suppose, is exactly what it is. In English, though, it’s known as Bastille day, as it commemorates the storming of the Bastille in 1789, an event which helped start the French Revolution.

Macron on the way up

In fact, France feels like it’s on the verge of an admittedly more modest revolution right now. The newly-elected young, president, Emmanuel Macron has promised to transform, and modernize France. He is forward-thinking and has made clear the importance of the EU to France. He seems to keen to ensure France regains equal importance and influence alongside Germany within the EU and the world.

The UK, on other hand, feels like it’s going backwards. It certainly seems very confused. Theresa May actually won the election, but her party lost its majority in Parliament. The party which most strongly supported Brexit is now running a very weak government. Nobody knows exactly how much this weakness will affect the forthcoming Brexit negotiations, but many in the UK doubt it will help to make Britain great again.

What things look like now, however, is unlikely to be how things turn out. My opinion is that Brexit is a mistake and that the future looks rosier for France, but who can say with absolute certainty what will happen?

Old Skool photo of The Norman invasion of 1066

When the Normans, from northern France invaded England in 1066 they brought their language with them and changed the English language forever. The invaders became the ruling aristocracy, which is why most military, legal and business words in English tend to be of Latin originsoldier, invade, judge, finance, contract, commerce.

French was considered the superior language, and it’s dominance over English was so great that it is estimated that up to 45% of all English words are of French origin. I’m sure that the Brits of the 11th century would see the irony in the fact that English is now often described as a lingua franca and that the French authorities have, on occasion, tried to stop the growing influence English is having on French.

frogs’ legs

The French call the English les rosbifs, and the English routinely refer to the French as the Frogs. But, there is no doubt that while each country describes the other using a culinary stereotypes, when it comes to food, the French, with good reason, feel very superior to the British.

As I say, this sense of superiority is not unjustified. For many years in the UK, both the terms fine dining and foreign food meant eating French food. The French gave the British dishes like Coq au vin, Beef Bourguignon and French Onion soup, cheeses like Camembert and Roquefort, and sweets, like crème brûlée, and éclairs. Even today, only the US imports more French wine than the UK does.

In return, the British gave the French, le sandwich, which doesn’t really seem fair, does it?

the 2012 London Olympics

Amusingly, it has been suggested that this sense of culinary superiority partly explains why Paris lost out to London in its bid for the 2012 Summer Olympics. The then French President Jacques Chirac made derogatory remarks about British cuisine, saying that “only Finnish food is worse”. The IOC committee which would ultimately decide to give the games to London had two members from Finland!

I guess there are always ups and downs, so, for now, so I’d just like to say that I’m a big fan of France, and wish Frenchmen and Frenchwomen everywhere a Happy Bastille Day!

Exercise

Now try and find the following in the text. The questions are in the same order as they are in the text.

  1. an adjective meaning progressive
  2. an adjective used with importance
  3. an adverb used with support
  4. adjective used with certainty
  5. an adverb phrase meaning ‘sometimes, but not often’
  6. adjective used with influence to mean ‘increasing’
  7. adverb which collocates with referto mean ‘often’
  8. a term meaning ‘cook and eat gourmet food’
  9. adverb used with the verb explain to mean ‘not completely’
  10. adjective /noun combination meaning ‘disrespectful comments’

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