Thursday 12 April 2012

Sod the Zeitgeist!

English is often declared to be the most expressive language in the world. The dominance of English as the language of commerce and technology and science and music means it's one of the most dynamic languages too, as new words are coined at a furious rate. It's also a good evolutionary model, with new mutations forming by the minute, survival depending on their ability to gain a toehold in the zeitgeist.

Woah there, boy... just run that past me again. Zeitgeist? Really, English, really?

Surely there must be a single English word to express all that zeitgeist does? It seems not. Luckily, that's the only example I can think of where English is inadequate to express an idea. In every other case, English will always supply le mot juste. In fact... pardon? French, you say? It's like deja vu again. Merde. I'll start over.

Okay, so, as I was saying, English is the de facto linguistic tool, the lingua franca when two disparate tongues meet and without its rich vocabulary it would be almost impossible to manage harmonious international relations, to maintain the status quo.

Who am I kidding here? A cursory shufti reveals a veritable bonanza of wordy fifth columnists such as haute cuisine, chic, hamburger, muesli, carburettor... even okay is a foreigner.

Don't you just hate foreigners? I mean, they come over here with their suspicious alien ways and their nasty, grating accents. In true British style we can't wait for them to come a cropper and slink off home with their tails between their legs. They lack the spirit, see? They don't have our true British ability to always fear the worst then welcome it when it arrives - especially when it happens to others.

Yes indeed, foreigners will never manage to integrate properly into our society until they manage to acquire the one national characteristic that unites us all and keeps us sane and level-headed. The quality that forged an empire. Good old British schadenfreude.

Adios amigos!

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