Saturday, July 23, 2011

Pnoy's SONA

Soon Pnoy will deliver his SONA after a year in office. Don’t mistake this for GMA 7's Sojo’s SONA, a rude, disrespectful but clever way of attracting attention to her program, a ruse which media practitioners are often guilty of. Sojo may have unwittingly vandalized a traditional, important and anticipated report coming from no less than the highest post of the land. Although Sojo’s naming of her program came much earlier on, it does contribute to the more recent effort of some detractors to put down the president’s SONA as a trivial piece of prose.
Pnoy with all his weaknesses is still our best bet to start this country on the road to real change. He has no political savvy, no pretensions to intellectual brilliance, no outstanding physical traits and no awesome presence, but by god, he is honest and very resolute to see through his mission to stamp out corruption. He is up against the lords of corruption who have the shrewdest lawyers, the best image makers and most expert spin doctors that make up a formidable “dirty tricks department” all paid for by our money stolen from the government coffers. They have support coming from among the richest and most influential members of society and from the majority of elected government officials, who in one way or the other, benefits/ed from the munificence of the former dispensation and from the inherent but abused provenance derived from their power and position as elected officials. We least expect these people to help in instituting change in the existing system as change could be inimical to the prestige and privileges they are used to.  Pnoy needs help from the ranks of ordinary honest citizens who are sick and tired of the insidious situation the country is in but are clueless on how they can help and are inured by now by the futility of ever seeing change, thus, they have chosen to remain uninvolved.

The “dirty tricks” machinery of the dark side are feverishly at work designing subterfuges and disinformation media blitzes to undermine the SONA of P’noy.  The theme that they are focussed on is the non achievement of the first year of the presidency and P’noy’s lack of vision. Contrary to what Pnoy’s detractors say there have been numerous achievements but not of the media event variety. There have been modest but real achievements that perhaps are dull and boring, not enough for media to get enthusiastic about. The oppositors harp on P’noy’s undue emphasis on pinning down the miscreants of the former administration and bringing them to justice and giving less priority to the pressing needs such as poverty, hunger and other restaged perennial issues. He is being branded as vindictive and lacking in purpose, so unlike his mother, former president Cory, an elegant and forgiving lady. P’noy’s detractors have been taken aback by the uniqueness of his approach. In the past, a new president would be busy in the first year impressing his constituents by bursts of high profile activity to reinforce the rightness of their choice. Cosmetic jobs. These activities usually end up as unfinished businesses and much of the intended fruits of the labour remain unrealized because the oppositors have anticipated the predictable course of a president’s first year and have perfected a formula to trivialize whatever achievements that were done.
The eradication of corruption is the centerpiece of P’noy’s mission and from history we know that even the most well meaning president have been unsuccessful in the effort to stamp out these evil which has been with us ever since politics reared its obscene head in our midst. His approach is to ready the patch by weeding out the unwanted elements and cultivating the environment before he starts seeding and building. In his program it is important that trust of the people is regained. The running after those who have been guilty of graft is important to demonstrate to the people that there is justice in the land and that those criminals, whether high or low, are meted out their just deserts. The erring generals should not go scotfree from their crimes, corrupt bureau satraps who pilfer the till should be pursued to prosecution. No past sins are old enough to be let alone and condoned. False heroes need to be shamed and not given honours, ill gotten wealth must be recovered and ploughed back to the people as a redress to the damage inflicted by the coercive pillage of the robber barons. Corruption will pay the price of public condemnation and meted the harshest penalty possible while integrity and honesty in service will deserve accolade and fitting rewards. This approach cows the guilty and inspires the ordinary citizen. In the midterm it also gives confidence to investors and would be investors to bring in their money without fear of harassment from corrupt bureaucrats and of the uncertainty brought about by ambiguous and inconsistent business rules of conduct. Truthfulness and transparency in all three branches of government reigning supreme is the ultimate goal of Pnoy’s government. When this is achieved the social, the cultural and the spiritual regeneration of the Filipino will be off to a robust and optimistic start. It’s a long and narrow road, this “matuwid na daan”, snipers and ambushers of the forces of evil abound every step of the way. It will take a lot of heroic perseverance and unflagging stamina to stay the course. Pnoy should have all these strengths to put a stop to this tenacious continuum of evil that has bedevilled the Filipino for so long a time.

If Pnoy seems too engrossed in running after Gloria he is justified in doing so. Gloria is responsible for most of the mess we are in. The election fraud which stole the presidency from a rightful winner, the fertilizer scam which involved and tarnished some of her more sincere cabinet members are just some examples of treacherous and treasonous acts that deserve to be revisited. The recent incident of China’s bullying the rightful claimants of the islands in the South China Sea have reopened a forgotten bit of treachery by the past administration. There were earlier negotiations between the Philippines and China wherein PGMA gave a lot of concessions to China over the disputed territory which may have paved the way to subsequent sub rosa deals (ZTE deal and others). We can’t let Gloria off the hook if she was culpable to giving all sorts of unbridled concessions to the Chinese in the earlier agreements regarding the Spratlys. Presumably this was made possible with the collusion and abetting by the president’s subalterns. You just have to leave it to our politicians to have the wantonness to sell the patrimony of our nation for their own personal gain. This evil is perpetuated by the tolerant attitude we have on the wrong doings of our government officials. It is true that we react with the indignation of the spurned at the news of any new expose but it no sooner than dissipates into thin smoke. Will we ever get a satisfactory resolution of all the graft cases now in the courts? Not until a revamp of the judiciary and the justice system is successfully implemented. There are just too many rogues in robes and too many unscrupulous “experts” of the law that it becomes virtually impossible to prosecute criminals who have the money to delay the implementation of the law against them or in some cases, get exonerated despite their apparent guilt. Lawyers are aware that they only need time for the heat on their cases to simmer down then they can do their legal “sleight of hand” because the public’s attention has been diverted to new and more exciting scandals fanned by a partisan media who may be a witting or unwitting player in the conspiracy. Add to this the highly suspicious midnight appointments in the judiciary (among other positions) brazenly initiated by the exiting president. Time only will tell if the appointees will remain beholden to PGMA because of the appointment or possibly that they are partners in past crimes that a change of heart for the good will be next to impossible to expect from them.

I am not privy to what Pnoy will deliver during his SONA but if it lacks the lustre of finely crafted speech with long litanies of achievements just bear in mind that Pnoy has his own unique strategy to get to his goals. The idea is not to wow you with embellished achievements and grand promises. The initial stage of his presidency is to clean up the mess, weed out the undesirable elements and make ready, at later stages, the country for seeding and building.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Bishops’ Gambit Might Undo the Stalemate

All of the bishops in the PCSO scandal, with the exception of one, have proven that they have been true to their selfless service to their flock and did not, in anyway, took donations from PGMA for their own comfort and capricious enjoyment. Bishop Pueblos has apologized for his moment of weakness. That self effacing act from someone high up in the church hierarchy is truly noble and commendable although, it seems that even to this day his beholdenment to a particular benefactor still remains.  Only he, in his conscience, can make a judgment on its propriety or perhaps the views of his peers can help him resolve this personal matter.

Now the moving finger points and it has made stops at the tactlessness of Margie Juico of PCSO, the mischievous semantics of media to evolve a read-worthy story and even the incumbent president himself, P’noy who is now portrayed as a vindictive and villainous anti-church, pro RH Bill president. And having pointed, the finger left indelible stains on all that it has touched.

Margie Juico has denied vehemently her having uttered the word “Pajero” in reference to the vehicles that were donated to the bishops. She said that it might have been one of her staff who might have referred to the SUVs as Pajero, as a generic term for these sports vehicles and that this might have been picked up by media and came up with a clever turn of phrase “Pajero bishops” to embellish the story. If they were referred to as the “4X4” bishops or even a slightly naughty “pickup bishops” it would not have the same impact. “Pajero bishops” as a phrase insinuates a scandalous misconduct that will surely make ears perk up. When asked why they have decided to return the vehicles to the PCSO and adamantly refused the offer for them to keep them their reply was that it was “prophetic”. In a biblical sense, it could have meant a discernment that the present dispensation or the king is a false one and would be anathema to their beliefs.

The most palpable blow was on the President who is now being accused as having masterminded the accusations in retaliation against the bishops who have been waging a relentless war against the RH Bill that P’noy is championing. The bishops have played their hand well in the PCSO furor. Admitting to a fault of nondiscernment and being contrite and meek about it created an underdog stance which gained a lot of brownie points from the public at the expense of the President.

It is easy to agree with what the verbose lady senator proposed as to the allocation of the PCSO funds. PGMA have used PCSO fund as some sort of pork barrel but with indiscriminate distribution (but so is the pork barrel) favouring those that have been useful, those that might be useful, those that she hopes to win over to use for her own causes. While those lawfully vested with power are entitled to certain prerogatives, the exercise of these should be within specified bounds. The amounts disbursed by PGMA have been in scandalous proportions and obviously with reciprocal political agendas. The absence of guidelines on how the funds are to be dispensed makes it appear that these are favours coming from a personal largesse. PGMA may have had occasions when the sincerity of her charities where unassailable but they seemed to be more exception rather than the rule. This is why she now seems to have a reverse Midas effect on her beneficiaries.

I find it unfortunate to have P’noy knee deep into a mess that probably does not merit that much in the overall scheme of things. Command responsibility dictates that the onus is on his shoulders despite the fact that this may have, again, been an error in judgment by a subordinate from a poorly rated collection of clumsy, inept and lightweight staff. Time and again we said that one cannot organize a crew of the best and the brightest with little motivation. Honesty pays, but not  materially. Perhaps a little tolerance and understanding is needed to encourage a ragtag, motley group of good leaders with a fair amount of not so good ones. One now appreciates the plaint of P’noy that there are members of his staff that are pulling him down.

At this time, I’m probably one of the holdouts of a diminishing number of people who have placed their trust on the leadership of P’noy and on his platform anchored on the eradication of corruption. Thus far we have not heard of any new major corruption happening in this administration. Pot shots of petty thieveries, accusations that besmirch some members of his cabinet, lifestyle quirks, ineptness have been hurled at P’noy et al but all of them pale by comparison with the atrocious and brazen acts of plunder perpetrated by the former dispensation. An ongoing track of non-corruption does not sell newspapers, neither does it increase viewership of news programs and talk shows. This kind of news eventually gets relegated to the to a small mention as an aside from a bigger story or into the records of a police blotter if there are such things in media logs.

I don’t believe P’noy is anti church he is just pro RH Bill and he stands steadfast on this conviction. There is just a lot heritage in the Aquino family to belie the fact P’noy has gone on the left field with his religious convictions. If it were not for this unfortunate disagreement, P’noy and the Catholic Church would have gotten along famously because they are both stalwarts in the fight against the evil of corruption. I am impressed by the fact that he had the courage to stand foursquare in his convictions in the face of opposition coming from such a formidable and stolid monolith like the Catholic Church. P’noy is not your garden variety of politician who would have abandoned a cause he truly believes in. It may be political suicide but a man has to do what he’s got to do.

The kind of change that P’noy is working on is a heroic one or in management terms a BHAG (Big, Hairy and Audacious Goal). Ridding the system of a festering wound inflicted through the ages of corrupt colonizers, exploitative leaders and false exemplars would take time. At the moment much time has been devoted to the running after of the grafters of the previous administration. The successful prosecution of these evildoers is necessary to inculcate on our people, especially the young ones, that there is justice in our land, that crime does not pay, that the corrupt in society will have their comeuppance and that it is heroic to be honest, there is premium to doing what is right and that there is still hope that our culture, flawed as it is, is not beyond redemption.

To those who have placed their trust on P’noy at the outset, I urge you to please persevere a bit more and do not abandon the hope of the change, that P’noy rallied us at the start, is still possible. If we are not successful in ushering change then the future will be just a repetition of history or possibly worse.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Latin, so dead yet so alive.

Latin, so dead yet so alive.

Latin is personified as the mother of all Romance languages which include ostensibly English, French, Spanish, Italian and a few minor western romance languages.
Its usage have long since ceased to be except for religious writings that are in "pure" Latin done by monks in monasteries and also in the Vatican in encyclicals and other church pronouncements. It still thrives in these hermitages and in the Vatican in the conduct of church affairs and legal writs (in Canon Law) but without any new additions and coinages which typify “live” contemporary languages. Latin continues to live on in the western languages, contributing to their vocabularies and other subtler endowments such as grammatical terminology and structure. Latin is a "dead" language but its influence and importance lives on. The study of Latin is a relevant endeavour in most aspects of life and continues to be a wellspring of terminologies in the modern world.
o Latin remains relevant and central to advanced academic fields. Latin may be found in law, medicine, sciences, theology and history and most often helps in providing accurate and definitive words to be expressed with absolute clarity.
o English has borrowed numerous Latin and Latin-based phrases into its vocabulary. The study of Latin benefits one's command of English, even outside the interest of specialized fields where Latin words are most prominent. It is a language that transcends time and has the ability to insinuate itself into any language as it is the founding block for every “romance” language
For those of us who have struggled and suffered much by undergoing the rigours of learning Latin in our early academic lives, the rewards have come by having a better armory of words and having a more précise grasp of the English language than most. Wrestling with the conjugations and the declensions and those daunting Ciceronian speeches memorized and recited seem to have been worth the effort.
Just like French, Latin has found itself into the mainstream of contemporary English and I have listed some of the more commonly used Latin words and phrases which would be helpful in making us be better understood and also be better appreciated for the aesthetic value it endows to our everyday English.

Common Latin Words and Phrases
a cappella - in the chapel style, without instruments
a posteriori - from what comes later
a priori - from what comes before
ad absurdum - taken to absurd lengths, to an absurd extreme
ad hoc - to this particular purpose
ad hominem - according to the person
ad infinitum - going on forever
ad majorem Dei gloriam -for the greater glory of God
ad nauseam - to the point of making one sick
addendum - an item to be added
agenda - things to be done
alias - otherwise
alibi - elsewhere
alma mater - nurturing or nourishing mother (refers to the university one has attended)
alter ego - another "I" or another self
alumnus - from the word "alere" meaning to nurture, a graduate of a school or university Feminine form is alumna, plural - alumni.
amicus curiae - friend of the court
Anno Domini (A.D.) - In the year of the Lord
ante - before
ante cibum (a.c.) - before meals
ante meridiem (a.m.) - before noon in the period from midnight to noon.
antebellum - before the war
aqua vitae - water of life (spirits, wine/brandy)
ars gratia artis - art for art's sake
aurora borealis - northern lights
aut vincere aut mori. - Either conquer or die.

bona fide -in good faith


carpe diem - Seize the day. (literally "pluck” the day)
casus belli - an act used to justify war
causa mortis - cause of death
caveat - Let him/her beware.
caveat emptor. - Let the buyer beware.
caveat lector - Let the reader beware. (Text might not be accurate.)
circa (ca.) - around or approximately, usually used with dates.
citius, altius, fortius – “Faster, higher, stronger” (Olympic motto)
cogito ergo sum. - "I think therefore I am." (René Descartes)
compos mentis - of sound mind
cum - with
cum laude - with praise
curriculum vitae - the course of one's life (resumé)


de facto - in fact
de iure - according to law
Deo gratias - Thanks be to God.
deus ex machina - god from the machine (contrived solution usually to a literaryplot)
Dominus vobiscum - The Lord be with you.


e pluribus unum - "From many, one." - a national motto (USA)
ecce homo - Behold the man.
emeritus - from merit (often used to refer to a retired professor)
ergo – therefore (used to show a logical conclusion)
errare humanum est - To err is human.
erratum - error
et alii (et al.) - and others (used to abbreviate a list of names)
et cetera (etc.) - and the rest, nowadays also "and others", "and so on", "and more")
ex - out of
ex cathedra - with authority
ex gratia - from kindness or from grace (referring to someone performing an act out of kindness as opposed to being forced to do it)
ex libris -from the books (library) of
ex officio - from the office (when someone holds one position by virtue of holding another, for example, the U.S. vice president is ex officio president of the Senate)
ex post facto - from what is done afterward, of a law with retroactive effect.
exeunt - They leave.
exit He/she leaves.


facsimile - Make a similar one. (origin of the word fax)
factotum - an employee, assistant with many diverse functions
factum est - It is done.
fiat - Let it be done.
finis - the end
flagrante delicto - in the act of committing a crime


gloria - glory
gloria in excelsis Deo - glory to God in the highest


habeas corpus - You must have the body. (You must justify an imprisonment.)
hic et nunc - here and now
honoris causa - for the sake of honor


ibidem (ibid.) - in the same place, usually in bibliographic citations.
id est (i.e.) - that is to say, sometimes "in this case," depending on the context
illuminati - enlightened; a name given to several groups, both historical and modern, and both real and fictitious.
imprimatur - Let it be printed.
in absentia - in the absence of
in excelsis - in the highest
in extremis - in extremity
in flagrante delicto - In flaming crime (caught in the act)
infra - below, underneath
in loco - at the place
in loco parentis - in the place of a parent
in medias res - into the middle of things
in memoriam - in memory of
in principio - in the beginning
in situ - in position
in toto - totally,completely
in vacuo - in a vacuum
in vino veritas. - In wine is truth.
in vitro - in glass
inter alia - among other things
intra muros - within the walls, not public
ipso facto - by the fact itself


laus Deo - Praise be to God.
literati - men of letters
locus delicti - the scene of the crime
loquitur - He/She speaks.
lux et veritas - light and truth
lux mundi - the light of the world


magna cum laude - with great distinction
magnificat - It magnifies.
magnum opus - the greatest piece of work
mea culpa - through my fault
memento mori - Remember that you must die.
memorabilia - memorable things
mens sana in corpore - a healthy mind in a healthy body
millennium (millennia) - a thousand year period
modus operandi (m.o.) - way of operating
modus vivendi - way of living
moratorium - a delay


ne plus ultra (also non plus ultra) "nothing more beyond" literally, the best or most extreme example of something.
nihil - nothing
noli me tangere - Touch me not.
nolo contendere - I do not wish to contend. (no contest - a plea that can be entered on behalf of a defendant in a court that states the accused doesn't admit guilt but will accept punishment for a crime.)
non sequitur - it does not follow
nota bene (n.b.) Note it well.


O tempora, O mores! - "Oh the times! Oh the morals!" (Marcus Tullius Cicero)
opus Dei - the work of God


pari passu - with equal step (moving together, simultaneously)
pater noster - our father
paterfamilias - father of the family
pax - peace
pax vobiscum - Peace be with you.
per annum - yearly
per capita - per head (per person)
per cent - per hundred
per diem - daily
per se - by itself
persona non grata - person not wanted,
post bellum - after the war
post facto - after the fact
post meridiem (pm) - after midday, from noon to midnight
post mortem - after death
post partum - after childbirth
post prandial - after eating.
prima facie - at first sight
pro bono (pro bono publico) - for the good of the public said of a lawyer's work that is not charged for.
pro forma - as a matter of form, formality
pro patria - for one's country
pro rata - for the rate, (in proportion to the value)
pro tempore - for the time being, (temporary)


quid pro quo - this for that (a favor for a favor)
quo vadis - Where are you going?
quod erat demonstrandum (QED) - which was to be demonstrated
quorum – dangers, of which there were not a few; minimum number of members that must be present to make proceedings valid


re - concerning
reductio ad absurdum - reduction to the absurd
referendum - something to be referred
requiescat in pace - (RIP) May he/she rest in peace.
res iudicata – a judged thing (Legal concept: once a matter has been finally decided by the courts, it cannot be litigated again.)
rex - king
rigor mortis - the rigidity of death


salve - hello
semper fidelis – (Semper Fi) always faithful
sic - thus
sine die - without a day (indefinitely)
status quo - the current state of being
stet - Let it stand. (marginal mark in proofreading to indicate that something previously deleted or marked for deletion should be retained)
sub poena - under penalty of law
sub rosa - under the rose (secretly)
sui generis - of his/her/its own kind
sui juris - of one's own right (capable of legal responsibility)
summa cum laude - with highest praise
supra - above


tabula rasa - blank tablet or slate
tempore - in the time of
tempus fugit - Time flees.
terra firma - solid ground
terra incognita - unknown land


vade in pace - Go in peace.
vale - farewell
veni, vidi, vici - I came, I saw, I conquered.
verbatim et litteratim - word for word and letter for letter
veritas - truth
versus (vs.) - against
veto - I forbid (a right to unilaterally stop a certain piece of legislation)
via - by way of
vice - in place of
vice versa - with places exchanged (in reverse order)
vox populi - voice of the people

Friday, July 01, 2011

A Touch of French

Commonly used French words & phrases in the English language

Parlez vous francais? With the exception of Choy Arnaldo, who is veritably a Parisian, most of us couldn’t make out what’s written on a menu card in a French restaurant and would always be in danger of mistakenly ordering the maitre’d instead of the chateaubriand.

Quite a few of the guys in Grupo58 would be sixty nine years of age, an interesting set of two digits that’s a trifle embarrassing on the face of it. It could be said that at this age our libido expressions may now be limited to a few half cocked attempts and that there is a need to boost this with verbal promiscuity to make our machismo more palpable to an audience that probably ignores us in the most part. Still we need to do that to make the assertion (mostly to one’s self) that we are still serviceable despite looking like we just stand and wait as the darling buds of May flit by. A bit of risqué thought at age sixty nine...if you can’t hack it just eat it.

What might help to assuage this old age malaise will be to add a little French flavour to our everyday interaction with our friends and associates. A smattering of French words and phrases in our conversation and in our written communications could liven up our relationships with the world around us and about us. More importantly, even it doesn’t really make us sexy it makes us feel sexy...a pose that refreshes. Just a word of caution, a little French erringly used could lead to severe indigestion from ordering a chewy escargot or a stinging slap from a lady who thought she was being proposed to indecently.

The English language is dynamic and one of the factors that make it so is its ability to absorb foreign additions with facility, thus, further making it rich, vibrant and ever interesting. There are a big number of French words and phrases which have been welcomed by the English language and they are used with ease and have contributed to the elegance and a touch of class to the written and spoken word. From a huge number (more than double that of my shortened list) of French words and phrases assimilated into English I chose to shortlist by including only those that are most commonly used (my judgment).

As in most cases, foreign words and phrases must be used sparingly and appropriately lest they give others the impression of quaintness and contrivance.

So, here’s the list. Bonne chance!

in the manner of/in the style of […]
literally: on the menu; In restaurants it refers to ordering individual dishes rather than a fixed-price meal.
idiomatic: in the style; In the United States, the phrase is used to describe a dessert with an accompanying scoop of ice cream (example: apple pie à la mode).
regarding/concerning (note that the correct French syntax is à propos de)
farewell; literally means "to God," it carries more weight than "au revoir" ("goodbye," literally "Until re-seeing"). It is definitive, implying you will never see the other person again. Depending on the context, misuse of this term can be considered as an insult, as one may wish for the other person's death or say that you do not wish to see the other person ever again while alive. It is used for "au revoir" in south of France[1] and to denote a deprivation from someone or something.
dexterous, skillful, clever, in French: habile, as a "right-handed" person would be using his "right" hand, as opposed to his left one with which he would be "gauche" meaning "clumsy."
"memory aid"; an object or memorandum to assist in remembrance, or a diplomatic paper proposing the major points of discussion
a before-meal drink (in colloquial French, it is shortened as "apéro"). In French, it means either the drink or food (amuse-gueules) taken before a meal. Also, in France, even if one is supposed to eat after an apéritif, it is socially accepted to take your meal at home, therefore one can have an apéritif at a bar (with or without friends), or at a friend's before going back home.
après nous, le déluge
literally: After us, the deluge, a remark attributed to Louis XV of France in reference to the impending end of a functioning French monarchy and predicting the French Revolution. The Royal Air Force No. 617 Squadron, famously known as the "Dambusters," uses this as its motto. The chorus of Regina Spektor's song Après Moi also references this phrase.
a narrow ridge. In French, also fishbone; edge of a polyhedron or graph; bridge of the nose.
a type of cabinet; wardrobe.
a style of decoration and architecture of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It takes a capital in French (Art nouveau).
a person attached to an embassy; in French it is also the past participle of the verb attacher (= to fasten, to tighten, to be linked)on the contrary.
up-to-date; abreast of current affairs.
"See you later!" In French a contraction of Au plaisir de vous revoir (to the pleasure of seeing you again).
avant-garde (pl. avant-gardes)
applied to cutting-edge or radically innovative movements in art, music and literature; figuratively "on the edge," literally, a military term, meaning "vanguard" (which is a corruption of avant-garde) or "advance guard," in other words, "first to attack" (antonym of arrière-garde).used in Middle English,
avoir de pois = commodities sold by weight, alteration of Old French aveir de peis = goods of weight
a classical type of dance
literally "beautiful gesture", a gracious gesture, noble in form but often futile or meaningless in substance
monumental architectural style of the early 20th century made famous by the Académie des Beaux-Arts

a period in European social history that began during the late 19th century and lasted until World War I.
literally "fine letters"; literature regarded for its aesthetic value rather than its didactic or informative content; also, light, stylish writings, usually on literary or intellectual subjects

unimpressed with something because of overfamiliarity, jaded.

literally "good appetite"; enjoy your meal
well-chosen word(s), particularly a witty remark
one who enjoys the good life, an epicurean
literally "good journey"; have a good trip!
"good day," a standard greeting in the morning or afternoon
"good luck" (as in, 'I wish you good luck')
member of the bourgeoisie. The word used to refer to shopkeepers living in towns in the Middle Ages. Now the term is derogatory, and it applies to a person whose beliefs, attitudes, and practices are conventionally middle-class.
small ornamental objects, less valuable than antiques; a collection of old furniture, china, plates and curiosities. Cf. de bric et de broc, corresponding to our "by hook or by crook," and brack, refuse.
a sweet yeast bun, kind of a crossover between a popover and a light muffin; French also use the term as slang for 'potbelly', because of the overhang effect.
bureau (pl. bureaux)
office. Also means "desk" in French.
a coffee shop (also used in French for "coffee").
coffee with milk; or a light-brown color. In medicine, it is also used to describe a birthmark that is of a light-brown color (café au lait spot).
a collection of items of the same type stored in a hidden or inaccessible place (such as in an oubliette)
(1) unfounded rumor or anecdote. (2) a leading airfoil attached to an aircraft forward of the main wing. ('canard' means 'duck' in French)
unlimited authority; literally "white card" (i.e. blank check).
c'est bon
"That's good."
c'est la guerre!
"That's War!"; or "Such is war!" Often used with the meaning that "this means war," but it can be sometimes used as an expression to say that war (or life in general) is harsh but that one must accept it.
c'est la vie!  
"That's life!"; or "Such is life!" or "It is what it is!" It is sometimes used as an expression to say that life is harsh but that one must accept it.
c'est magnifique!
"That's great!"; literally it's magnificent.
a long chair for reclining; (also rendered chaise lounge or chase lounge by folk etymology).
a female singer
a diplomat left in charge of day to day business at a diplomatic mission. Within the United States Department of State a chargé is any officer left in charge of the mission in the absence of the titular chief of mission.
a person who is a fraud, a fake, a hoaxer, a deceiver, a con artist.
a masterpiece
"look for the woman," in the sense that, when a man behaves out of character or in an otherwise apparently inexplicable manner, the reason may be found in his trying to cover up an illicit affair with a woman, or to impress or gain favour with a woman. First used by Alexandre Dumas (père) in the third chapter of his novel Les Mohicans de Paris (1854).
at the house of: often used in the names of restaurants and the like; Chez Marie = "Marie's"
a hairstyle worn in a roll at the nape of the neck
realism in documentary filmmaking
lit. negative; trite through overuse; a stereotype
a small exclusive group of friends; always used in a pejorative way in French.
"like this, like that"; so-so, neither good nor bad. In French, usu. couci-couça.
lit. communicated; an official communication.
a receptionist at a hotel or residence. As they have a reputation for gossiping, concierge is also a mild insult if you call anyone who is not a receptionist that (meaning you're a shameless gossiper).
a flirtatious girl; a tease
a policy of containment directed against a hostile entity or ideology; a chain of buffer states; lit. "quarantine line"
a funeral procession; in French has a broader meaning and refers to all kinds of processions.
the final blow that results in victory (literally "blow of mercy"), historically used in the context of the battlefield to refer to the killing of badly wounded enemy soldiers, now more often used in a figurative context (e.g., business). Frequently pronounced without the final "s" sound by English speakers who believe that any such sound at the end of a French word is supposed to be silent.[citation needed] In French this would sound like coup de gras, or "blow of fat."
fashion (usually refers to high fashion)
a fashion designer (usually refers to high fashion, rather than everyday clothes design)
a nativity display; more commonly (in the United Kingdom), a place where children are left by their parents for short periods in the supervision of childminders; both meanings still exist in French
a dessert consisting primarily of custard and toasted sugar, that is, caramel; literally "burnt cream"
best of the best, "cream of the cream," used to describe highly skilled people or objects. A synonymous expression in French is « fin du fin ».
a thin sweet or savoury pancake eaten as a light meal or dessert
a critical analysis or evaluation of a work, or the art of criticizing.
a crescent-shaped bread made of flaky pastry
a dead-end (residential) street; literally "Ass (bottom) of the bag." Even though "cul" is vulgar in French, this expression in itself is not. See also amuse-gueule.

an event or enterprise that ends suddenly and disastrously, often with humiliating consequences.  
de rigueur
required or expected, especially in fashion or etiquette
de trop
excessive, "too much"
of inferior social status
a woman's garment with a low-cut neckline that exposes cleavage, or a situation in which a woman's chest or cleavage is exposed; décolletage is dealt with below.
the layout and furnishing of a room
a deposit (as in geology or banking), a storehouse, or a transportation hub (bus depot)
"already seen": an impression or illusion of having seen or experienced something before.
the end result
rear; buttocks; literally "behind"
partially clad or scantily dressed; also a special type of garment.
easing of diplomatic tension
a file containing detailed information about a person; it has a much wider meaning in modern French, as any type of file, or even a computer directory
the senior member of a group; the feminine is doyenne
a form of competitive horse training, in French has the broader meaning of taming any kind of animal
du jour
said of something fashionable or hip for a day and quickly forgotten; today's choice on the menu, as soup du jour, literally "of the day"

a type of perfume, originating in Cologne, Germany. Its Italian creator used a French name to commercialize it, Cologne at that time being under the control of France.
literally "grooming water." It usually refers to a aromatic product that is less expensive than a perfume because it has less of the aromatic compounds and is more for an everyday use. Can not be shortened as eau, which means something else altogether in French (water).
a cream and chocolate icing pastry
Great brilliance, as of performance or achievement. Conspicuous success. Great acclamation or applause
a distinctive flair or style
court hearing of the entire group of judges instead of a subset panel
"[be] on [your] guard," used in fencing, and sometimes mistranscribed as "on guard."
on the way
(je suis) enchanté(e)
"(I am) enchanted (to meet you)": a formal greeting on receiving an introduction. Often shortened to simply "enchanté."
a disruptively unconventional person, a "terrible child."
diplomatic agreement or cooperation. L'Entente cordiale (the Cordial Entente) refers to the good diplomatic relationship between France and United Kingdom before the first World War.
confidentially; literally "between us"
literally "entrance"; the first course of a meal (UK English); used to denote the main dish or course of a meal (US English).
a person who undertakes and operates a new enterprise or venture and assumes some accountability for the inherent risks
writing desk; spelled "écritoire" in current French
"spirit of the body [group]": a feeling of solidarity among members of a group; morale. Often used in connection with a military force.
a musical composition designed to provide practice in a particular technical skill in the performance of an instrument. French for "study."
small ornamental case for needles or cosmetics
extraordinary, usually as a following adjective, as "musician extraordinaire"
the front view of an edifice (from the Italian facciata, or face); a fake persona, as in "putting on a façade" (the ç is pronounced like an s)
lit. accomplished fact; something that has already happened and is thus unlikely to be reversed, a done deal. In French used only in the expression "placer/mettre quelqu'un devant le fait accompli" meaning to present somebody with a fait accompli.
false, ersatz, fake.
"false step": violation of accepted, although unwritten, social rules
"deadly woman": an attractive woman who seduces and takes advantage of men for her personal goals, after which she discards or abandons them. It extends to describe an attractive woman with whom a relationship is likely to result, or has already resulted, in pain and sorrow.
betrothed; lit. a man/woman engaged to be married.
a cooking procedure in which alcohol (ethanol) is added to a hot pan to create a burst of flames, meaning "flamed" in French. Also used colloquially in reference to something on fire or burned.
a lit torch
a stylized-flower heraldic device; the golden fleur-de-lis on an azure background were the arms of the French Kingdom (often spelled with the old French style as "fleur-de-lys")
fatty liver; usually the liver of overfed goose, hence: pâté de foie gras, pâté made from goose liver. However, "foie gras" generally stands for "pâté de foie gras" as it is the most common way to use it.
an overpowering and unforeseeable event, especially when talking about weather (often appears in insurance contracts)

literally "boy" or "male servant"; sometimes used by English speakers to summon the attention of a male waiter (has a playful connotation in English but is condescending and possibly offensive in French)
tactless, does not mean "left-handed" (which translates in French as "gaucher"), but does mean "left"
a type or class, such as "the thriller genre"
a specialized soldier, first established for the throwing of grenades and later as elite troops

one who regularly frequents a place
"high sewing": Paris-based custom-fitted clothing; trend-setting fashion
upscale gastronomy; literally "high cooking."
"outside the [main] work": appetizer
an innocent young man/woman, used particularly in reference to a theatrical stock character who is entirely virginal and wholesome. L'Ingénu is a famous novella written by Voltaire.
je t'aime
I love you. Implies "I like you" too. The French word "aimer" implies all the different kinds of love (love = like). To differentiate the two, one would say simply "je t'aime" to one's love whereas one would say "je t'aime bien" (lit. I love you well) to a friend.
"joy of life/living"
"let do"; often used within the context of economic policy or political philosophy, meaning leaving alone, or non-interference. The phrase is the shortcut of Laissez faire, laissez passer, a doctrine first supported by the Physiocrats in the 18th century. The motto was invented by Vincent de Gournay, and it became popular among supporters of free-trade and economic liberalism. It is also used to describe a parental style in developmental psychology, where the parent(s) does not apply rules or guiding.
a type of fabric woven or knit with metallic yarns
a set of clothing and accessories for a new baby
a close relationship or connection; an affair. The French meaning is broader; "liaison" also means bond such as in "une liaison chimique" (a chemical bond)

coarse lace work made with knotted cords
young unmarried lady, miss; literally "my noble young lady"
motion sickness, literally "seasickness"
a general sense of depression or unease
supplies and equipment, particularly in a military context (French meaning is broader and corresponds more to "hardware")
a mixture
a confused fight; a struggling crowd
"household for three": a sexual arrangement between three people
social environment; setting (has also the meaning of "middle" in French.)
Mon ami
my friend (male) or 'mon amie': my friend (female)
Mon Dieu!
my God!
monsieur (pl. messieurs)
a man, a gentleman. Also used as a title, equivalent to Mr. or Sir.
a recurrent thematic element
a whipped dessert or a hairstyling foam; in French, means any type of foam
"born": a man’s/woman’s birth name (maiden name for a woman), e.g., "Martha Washington, née Custis."
"nobility obliges"; those granted a higher station in life have a duty to extend (possibly token) favours/courtesies to those in lower stations
pseudonym to disguise the identity of a leader of a militant group, literally "war name," used in France for "pseudonym"
author's pseudonym, literally "pen name." Originally an English phrase, now also used in France
newly rich, used in English to refer particularly to those living a garish lifestyle with their newfound wealth; see also arriviste and parvenu.
new cuisine
a work of art, commonly a painting or sculpture
"work," in the sense of an artist's work; by extension, an artist's entire body of work

verve; flamboyance
lit. chewed paper; a craft medium using paper and paste
by air mail. The meaning is broader in French, it means by plane in general.
"by excellence": quintessential
a social upstart.
a close relationship between two people; in ballet, a duet.
a derivative work; an imitation
a dialect; jargon
lit. father, used after a man's surname to distinguish a father from a son, as in "George Bush père."
"foot-on-the-ground" or "foothold"; a place to stay, generally applied to the city house as opposed to the country estate of the wealthy
literally "pinch nose," a type of spectacles without temple arms.
an architectural term referring to a kind of porch or porticolike structure.
"poser": a person who pretends to be something he is not; an affected or insincere person: a wannabe
"ready to wear" (clothing off the shelf), in contrast to haute couture
a man/woman who receives support from an influential mentor.
a polemicist

a storyteller
"reason for being": justification or purpose of existence
to be in someone's "good graces"; to be in synch with someone; "I've developed a rapport with my co-workers"; French for: relationship
scouting; like connoisseur. Modern French uses an "a," never a "o" (as in reconnoissance).
meaning rebirth, a cultural movement in the 14-17th centuries
reporting; journalism
répondez s'il vous plaît. (RSVP)
Please reply. Though francophones may use more usually "prière de répondre," it is common enough. (Note: RSLP ["Répondre s'il lui plaît"] is used on old-fashioned invitations written in the 3rd person, usually in "Script" typography — at least in Belgium.)
An artificial lake
a restaurant owner
A quick retort in speech or action, or in fencing, a quick thrust after parrying a lunge
an openly debauched, lecherous older man

subversive destruction, from the practice of workers fearful of industrialization destroying machines by tossing their sabots ("wooden shoes") into machinery
one who commits sabotage
lit. jumped; quickly fry in a small amount of oil.
those who can should save themselves. Used as a pragmatic response to an accident. Equivalent to the English "every man for himself."
"knowing": a wise or learned person; in English, one exceptionally gifted in a narrow skill.
literally "know how to do"; to respond appropriately to any situation.
the image of a person, an object or scene consisting of the outline and a featureless interior, with the silhouetted object usually being black
an assumed name, a nickname (often used in a pejorative way in French)
an evening party
a very small amount (In French, can also mean suspicion)
"soup of the day," meaning the particular kind of soup offered that day.

chalkboard. The meaning is broader in French: all types of board (chalkboard, whiteboard, notice board…). Refers also to a painting (see tableau vivant, below) or a table (chart).
"head to head"; an intimate get-together or private conversation between two people.
the process of dressing or grooming. Also refers in French, when plural ("les toilettes"), to the toilet room.
acknowledgment of an effective counterpoint; literally "touched" or "hit!" Comes from the fencing vocabulary.
"feat of strength": a masterly or brilliant stroke, creation, effect, or accomplishment.
lit. everything (else) following; "at once," "immediately" (according to the Oxford English Dictionary).
very (often ironic in English)
very beautiful
très bonne
very good (feminine form). When used to describe a woman's physical attributes, it's vulgar in French.

salad dressing of oil and vinegar; diminutive of vinaigre (vinegar)
"face to face [with]": in comparison with or in relation to; opposed to. From "vis" (conjugated form of "voir," to see). In French, it's also a real estate vocabulary word meaning that your windows and your neighbours' are within sighting distance (more precisely, that you can see inside of their home).
"[long] live the difference"; originally referring to the difference between the sexes, the phrase may be used to celebrate the difference between any two groups of people (or simply the general diversity of individuals)
literally "see there"; in French it can mean simply "there it is"; in English it is generally restricted to a triumphant revelation.
lit. someone who sees; a peeping tom.