Naiveté. Cliché. Mirage. Ennui. Entrepreneur. Encore. Déjà vu. Souvenir. The list goes on. English has borrowed more words from French than from any other modern foreign language, and professor Richard Scholar is curious about why.
Scholar joins us in a livestreamed conversation with Kathleen Cain to share insight from his book Émigrés: French Words That Turned English. He examines the continuing history of untranslated French words in English and asks what these words reveal about the relationship between English and French speaking cultures. He posits that migrant French words are never the same for having ventured abroad, and argues that they complete English by reminding us that it is fundamentally incomplete. At a moment of resurgent nationalism in the English-speaking world, Scholar invites us to consider how much we owe the French language, and why so many of us remain ambivalent about the migrants in our midst.
Richard Scholar is Professor of French at Durham University. His books include The Je-Ne-Sais-Quoi in Early Modern Europe: Encounters with a Certain Something and Montaigne and the Art of Free-Thinking.
Kathleen Cain began her career in Seattle writing and producing documentaries and talk shows for television and radio before founding her own communications consulting firm, Cain Creative.
Presented by Town Hall Seattle.