The language library

Yesterday I saw a sign in a bakery window, ‘Cronut.  Have you tried it yet?’  Well if it is something new in the line of cakes I most probably have and the cronut is no exception.  What is it?  It’s a mix of a croissant and a doughnut (donut AmE).  To be fair it was quite a taste sensation, but more doughnut than croissant in my opinion.  I tried it in a ‘French’ bakery, but I did have the image of little French men jumping up and down shouting, ‘sacrebleu!’ at the travesty of tainting the delicate French croissant with the brutish American doughnut.  Is it a mix of genres too far?

In terms of language we have been borrowing, lending and mixing for years.  Different countries go about it in different ways.  Take a French word such as ‘chef’.  Although us Brits will hack at the beauty of the word with our accent, we do maintain the original pronunciation to the best of our ability by maintaining the initial ‘sh’ sound rather than changing it to our ‘ch’.*  We also maintain the spelling of our incorporated words.  I remember watching a US comedian of Puerto Rican descent expressing his annoyance at the English keyboard and how difficult it is to type accents.  When he wanted an ñ he would type the word piñata and delete the other letters, as piñata is the only word accepted in the English language with ñ.  It’s a handy tip if you don’t want to state your age in anuses.

The phenomenon of ‘verbing’ is a common feature of European countries when incorporating English into their lexis. Take for instance ‘parking’, ‘footing’ and ‘camping’ that you find here in Spain.  Whack an -ing on anything and you have an English-sounding word that makes absolutely no sense outside of Spain.  Go to the UK and say you practise footing is probably going to get you some strange looks and people thinking you have a foot fetish.  What is my point? Accept these words here by all means, just don’t trust them to be the same elsewhere.  If you want to park your car in the UK you will need a car park and a parking lot in the US.  If you like running you might go jogging in the park.  If you have a penchant (another borrowed word, remember what I said about pronunciation) for camping, look for a campsite to pitch your tent.

Let me know your thoughts on the cronunt!  I didn’t get a photo.  I was too busy eating.


*However we pluralise in an English way with additions from any language.  Chef becomes chefs with a pronounced ‘s’, bambino becomes bambinos etc.




One thought on “The language library

  1. Charlie says:

    Yes indeed the bizarre ‘ing’ words are rapidly invading Spain. Zapping is not how we talk about changing channels but how to burst a spot (explotar un grano). Puenting is another invention to describe bungee jumping. Mobbing is also more often misused than not. Most of the time we should say bullying as mobbing is a different concept. Shopping is fine but please do not go to the underwear or lingerie (pronounced with lanshery) department and ask for a slip or a tanga as noone will understand you. Look for underpants or g-strings. On the subject of ‘lanshery’ I am rather fond of the spanish words spelt beicon and güiski. Don’t forget it’s Gin AND tonic not gin-tonic.
    Thanks Hannah for making me think of all those endearing and not so endearing spanglishisms.
    PS Please can we try lobbying (does exist) fo ban ‘Stick TION on the end of any spanish noun to make it sound english’ trend?
    Sent from a Word Nerd (frikki doesn`t exist)

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