Monday, September 18, 2006

une ferme = farm

At the reception after Dr. Garcia's talk there was some wine. There were a couple of bottles of La Vielle Ferme. Dr. Garcia asked me what ferme meant, and I couldn't really say, though I guessed farm, but dismissed it, because the French don't borrow from English. So, is ferme native to French? or no?

8 comments:

Lady Downstairs said...

Oh PB, you lost your chance for a brownie point. "Ferme" IS farm. And, yes, France borrows words from English, although of course English sprang from French (and Anglo-Saxon). For some reason, 'un fermier'is one of the first French words I learned. I should find my Anglo-Saxon dictionary and find out what English farm originally was.

papabear said...

Sure, French might borrow words from English, but nowadays, not officially.

http://www.academie-francaise.fr/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acad%C3%A9mie_fran%C3%A7aise#Functions

haha

How bizarre. Either I just don't remember learning the word, or we were learning French from a city-oriented textbook.

papabear said...

That is, if one considers the Académie française the highest official authority for governing the French language...

Lady Downstairs said...

Well, actually I can think of a body more fanatical about the purity of the French language than the Academie Francais, and that would be the government of Quebec. Of course, Quebec French is not the same as contemporary literary French, but on the other hand, they make damned sure new technology gets its own French words. In my Larousse, email is le e-mail (it is die E-Mail in German), but in Quebec it is le courriel (and my Larousse says this is original to Quebec French). So, yes, English borrowings are official in France, though perhaps not at all in paranoid Quebec. (In France, too, you can get away a lot more with using English words for everyday things like "le shopping" and "le parking" whereas in Quebec, it's a no-no. Still, even there rock and roll is rock and roll.)

There is a certain amount of cross-over in all living languages, and it really does take legislation to keep things less fluid. I don't know the history of French-English crossover, but French in England was of course completely transformed by Anglo-Saxon, and vice versa. It would be interesting to see what kind of an influence Anglo-Saxon and then the new language of modern English had on France before the 20th century.

papabear said...

I would be very surprised if the English had that much of an impact after the Norman invasions... or until the past century. Most, if not all, of the influence was one-way. The imposition of culture is usually top-down, especially if conquerors are keen on maintaining a separate (and unequal) identity.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_French_language
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Middle_French
http://members.tripod.com/~GeoffBoxell/words.htm

http://macrobius.blogspot.com

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quebec_French#Standardization

papabear said...

So, yes, recently French people have borrowed English words, but this is a phenomena the Establishment (particularly the cultural elites, like the Academie Franciase) loathes, and this is what I mean by officially.

papabear said...

one could argue that a society and culture in healthy shape would worry less about borrowings from other languages, but I don't think the fears of losing one's cultural identity are all that unreasonable nowadays, given the movements towards centralization, standardization, and larger political groupings...

Lady Downstairs said...

Still haven't gone upstairs for my Anglo Saxon dictionary. Hm...I could find one on-line. Well, the Academie Francais may be official, but Larousse is officiel aussi, kind of in the way Duden is THE master of the German language. And le e-mail is in Larousse, as is le shampooing, le shopping, faire du shopping, le Walkman, le water-polo, waterproof, les WC, la webcam, le webcast, le webzine, le weekend and le yacht-club. I find also here le beur, which is Arab-French for "a person born in France of North African immigrant parents." I believe it is also the name of the Arab-French French les beurs speak, a kind of inverted French that the Academie Francais probably hates almost as much as it hates English. But I would bet you, upon finding his car alight in the street, even the president of the A.F. would not say, "Helas! Ma voiture! Les jeunes arabs etaient ici!" No indeed. I think we would hear some very colloquial French indeed.