Language gives a snub to borders in a way that is denied to any other human invention. There are no controls or checks to prevent words crossing boundaries, there are no duties to be paid when phrases migrate from one culture to another. In the basic and simplest sense of the phrase, language is a free market.
Within the pages of Faux Pas? the foreign expressions are presented: the familiar and the unfamiliar, the useful and the pretentious. Each entry in this book has been given a phonetic indication of pronunciation.
Each entry has also been given a rating on the so-called – or soi-disant – Pretentiousness Index. For many entries it does not apply at all, either because they are ‘technical’ terms (like in camera or ultra vires) or because they are so well-established in English that using them is about as natural as breathing.
Every entry has been illustrated with an example of actual use, sometimes very recent use. The sources are generally what used to be called the broadsheets (The Times, Guardian, Daily Telegraph and Independent in particular). Quite a few examples have been drawn from fiction as well as sources such as the Spectator magazine.
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