Saturday, December 17, 2011

The French having fun with their language!?!?!?

Oui, cher amis, c'est vrai ça, as they say.

Last summer, the latest edition of the classic French dictionary Le Petit Larousse contained a contest. As described briefly in the graphic here (cliquez à embigger, could we say?), they slipped in a couple of fake words, with a prize of 100,000 € — real money, for the moment at least — going to somebody who finds them.

I love the idea, fun with words in a pretty cool way. But even setting aside that our stereotypes about French views of their language are exactly stereotypes, I wouldn't have particularly expected this from Larousse, which makes it even cooler somehow.

I remain really excited about the culture of superstar lexicographers we have now in the US — Ben Zimmer on NPR just yesterday, Michael Paul Adams still a familiar name from his encounters with Colbert and his writings about slang, and Erin McKean (When somebody mentioned her name recently, a young person all but screamed 'Oh. My. God. I LOVE her.)* And the press about the new American Heritage Dictionary is cool (like this podcast, though I'm growing weary of the little thing about the end of print dictionaries.)

Oh yeah, so, I finally got around to checking the answers today ...


* Ha. Did you even notice that I didn't mention the superstar of all superstar dictionary-related things in the whole universe? Because I knew you'd think of DARE instantly anyway.

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