Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Words worth espousing - degage

This word is especially worth espousing because it is French word which is now officially (OED) also English. I love the idea of stealing French words and thus increasing the number and variety of English words ...and enhancing the precision of English vocabulary. It's particularly satisfying stealing words from the French - it is a nice double-whammy because the French are inclined to exclusionary paranoia about the spread and influence of English. So further diminishing French by stealing words seems to be an excellent response to their futile battle to ban words such as Le Weekend or Le computer. Degage means unconstrained, unconcerned, relaxed. I use it often during academic meetings when we are exhorted to redouble our efforts in order to become an outstanding institution. It is a good substitute for the Australian vernacular expression "I don't give a sh*t". It's a good substitute because it is both polite and mystifying. Especially when embedded in an actual French sentence, viz: "Je suis degage". The word has accents over both e's but I don't put them in because if one sets out to steal French words, I think it's best to remove such vestiges of degenerate French fripperies.