TWO USEFUL FRENCH WORDS. Back in the day the phrase “control freak” was not in use. There were lots of control freaks around, but the phrase and the concept did not exist. Being able to apply the label makes it a lot easier to recognize and deal with the problems control freaks create. This weekend’s Wall Street Journal discusses the difficulties of translating into English a French word which describes a kind of person we have all encountered. A “caracteriel” (with an acute accent over the first letter e) is “some one who relishes behaving badly.” It would be a good thing if the French word found its way into English. (The discussion of the word appears in an article describing the challenges for the playwright Christopher Hampton of translating Yasmina Reza’s latest play into English). An advertisement for European travel in the same issue gives the phrase “faire du leche-vitrines” (accent grave over the e in “leche”) which refers to window shopping and is literally “window-licking.”

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  1. Mary Jane Schaefer says:

    Marion Schaefer, knowing that her eleven and a half year old granddaughter was going to France asked her if she knew the most important French word. Annalisa confidently replied, “Yes, chocolat.” Grandma giggled. She had meant “merci.”

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