At the Bastille Day party in Daley Center plaza on July 14, I enjoyed a croissant, two macaron (only one "o") cookies, a photo contest, a little racing -- and lots of language, of course. I had a unique experience when I was forced to switch to English because my French wasn't understood. I'd never before felt forced to use English in downtown Chicago.
That got me thinking. The experience was not "very unique" or "more unique" or "most unique," just unique. It had never happened before.
I never use modifiers around the word "unique." Ever since I learned that it is the French word for "only," I have known that it doesn't need any modification at all.
"Unique" isn't, well, unique in the way it helps my English and French work together well. I never have trouble remembering the French verb "to eat," for instance, because it's "manger." Doesn't that look familiar? It does at Christmastime, or if you are around stables: Mangers (in English) are where animals eat.
Speaking (?) of animals, those recent sad stories about black animals having trouble being adopted weren't surprising to me -- not because I know animal shelters much, but because I know that the French term "bete noire," literally "black beast," is colloquially used to mean a big problem or (according to my Larousse French Dictionary) "the person who is detested the most."
To sign off, here's another interaction between the languages: Until I see you again, au revoir! (Since "voir" is the French word for "to see," I just got away with being redundant by being bilingual!)
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Filed under: French words in English usage