posted by Simon Kemp
We all know that the listicle is the lowest form of internet journalism, but I came across one the other day that I thought you might like to see. Slate.fr, the French sister-publication of the American online magazine links approvingly to a list in Business Insider, of all places, of ‘wonderful French expressions’ that have no simple translation into English. Here, for your edification, and so you can casually drop them into conversation and then declare vaguely that ‘non-French-speakers can’t really grasp the concept’, are the words and expressions in question, as compiled by Rob Wile:
Something awesome that was discovered by chance or stumbled upon.
France’s aggressive form of separation between church and state. The country would never allow a voting booth to be placed in a church, for instance, even if it would be the most expedient means of holding an election in a small town.
The act of a jack-ass.
Pure, sure of oneself, lacking neurotic hangups or socio-cultural pressures.
Droit a l’oubli
“Right to oblivion.” There are now guidelines, signed in 2010, applying to search engines that automatically cache pages on social media — basically, they’re not really allowed to. “We don’t hate what the Internet stands for — there’s a lot of material online that should be kept. But in certain cases, we’d prefer to have the ability to erase them,” Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, who put together the guidelines (and who just lost the race for mayor in Paris), said upon signing the guidelines.
To impugn with bad intentions — to suggest that someone or something is inherently bad. Often used in discussing politics.
Feeling displaced from one’s native land or familiar routine.
An informal but widely set of rules for a profession. Also a philosophical concept denoting a set of actions taken out of duty, rather than consequence.
Mise en abyme
This is the word for when you’re standing between two mirrors and you see an infinite regression of yourself. It’s also commonly used to describe self-referential works in a novel or play.