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Monday, May 26, 2014

#23: The Mt. Rushmore Series

Don't some foreign words or expressions belong on a Mt. Rushmore of sorts? My current favorites are listed alphabetically. I avoided common food and fashion stuff and didn't duplicate any foreign language. But ignore my guidelines and just tell me which four foreign words or expressions you'd enshrine.

1.) hoi polloi - from Greek, meaning literally, the masses; I love rhyming expressions!

2.) je ne sais quoi - French for "I don't know what". What a great way to describe the indescribable.

3.) sotto voce - Italian is the lingua franca (couldn't resist) for many words and expressions having to do with the voice, in or outside of music. This iteration of the Mt. Rushmore series was inspired when I recently used sotto voce in a conversation and a third person overheard me, meaning I was not speaking sotto voce.

4.) zeitgeist -  "spirit of the era" in German. Try coming up with an equivalent English word or expression using less than nine letters, I dare you.

Full disclosure: I'm only a little embarrassed owning up to a project I completed in late 2002 that assisted me with this post. Beginning early that year, I went through all 1568 pages of the 1984 edition of the Random House College Dictionary underlining all my favorite words, foreign or not, covering one letter each week. I still own that same dictionary and twelve years later, lucky readers of this blog get to share in the fruit of my folly. I hope you'll chime in with your version of a foreign language Mt. Rushmore.    

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