Sunday, April 16, 2006

Proust and his English

Proust and his English - TLS Highlights - Times Online: "Some of Proust's anglicisms barely register as non-French, like the long-naturalized meeting, bar, or bifteck, while others belong to the vocabulary of dress (redingote), travel (buggy, tramway) and social living (le shake-hand, le poker), or selected (and select) sports (le golf, le yachting).

More significant than their number is the way Proust places them in his text. Some suggest the vanity or pretensions of a character (Odette de Cr�cy, M de Norpois). Others are italicized to suggest criticism of ignorance (un smoking is not really a dinner jacket) or indicate an unnecessary importation when a perfectly good French word would do.

Other words signal a specific brand of English insincerity or embarrassment, and derivatives of snob / snobisme significantly form the largest single grouping. Few such borrowings have a positive resonance and a further category has open connotations of vulgarity and perversion."