French Vocabulary

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Vocabulary

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The majority of French words derive from Vulgar Latin or were constructed from Latin or Greek roots. In many cases a single etymological root appears in French in a “popular” or native form, inherited from Vulgar Latin, and a learned form, borrowed later from Classical Latin. The following pairs consist of a native noun and a learned adjective:

brother: frère / fraternel from Latin frater / fraternalis
finger: doigt / digital from Latin digitus / digitalis
faith: foi / fidèle from Latin fides / fidelis
eye: œil / oculaire from Latin oculus / ocularis
However, a historical tendency to gallicise Latin roots can be identified, whereas English conversely leans towards a more direct incorporation of the Latin:

rayonnement / radiation from Latin radiatio
éteindre / extinguish from Latin exstinguere
noyau / nucleus from Latin nucleus
ensoleillement / insolation from Latin insolatio
There are also noun-noun and adjective-adjective pairs:

thing/cause: chose / cause from Latin causa
cold: froid / frigide from Latin frigidum
It can be difficult to identify the Latin source of native French words, because in the evolution from Vulgar Latin, unstressed syllables were severely reduced and the remaining vowels and consonants underwent significant modifications.

More recently the linguistic policy of the French language academies of France and Quebec has been to provide French equivalents to (mainly English) imported words, either by using existing vocabulary, extending its meaning or deriving a new word according to French morphological rules. The result is often two (or more) co-existing terms for describing the same phenomenon.

Root Languages for Words of Foreign Origin[86]

– English (25.095%)
-Italian (16.833%)
-Germanic Languages (13.095%)
-Gallo-Romance Languages (11.452%)
-Arabic (5.119%)
-German (3.905%)
-Celtic Languages (3.810%)
-Spanish (3.810%)
-Dutch (3.643%)
-Persian and Sanskrit (2.667%)
-Native American Languages (2.405%)
-Asian Languages (2.119%)
-Afro-Asian Languages (1.333%)
-Slavic and Baltic Languages (1.310%)
-Basque (0.238%)
-Other Languages (3.429%)
mercatique / marketing
finance fantôme / shadow banking
bloc-notes / notepad
ailière / wingsuit
tiers-lieu / coworking

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