Simanaitis Says

On cars, old, new and future; science & technology; vintage airplanes, computer flight simulation of them; Sherlockiana; our English language; travel; and other stuff


ALL LANGUAGES, not only English, are subject to evolution, often by borrowing words or concepts from other languages. A recent article in The New York Times, July 25, 2013, (, discussed this in regard to the European economy and its current crises. The following observations were sparked by this article that also inspired some linguistic digging on my part.

Even before these new economic influences, English has made strong inroads into French, the result being one meaning of the term “Franglais.”


Franglais? Image from (The website is good fun. Search on “franglais.”)

Examples include le weekend, un parking, and un hot dog. This last one has become firmly français despite, for example, the government of Quebec suggesting un chien chaud as a proper québécois equivalent.

There are times when transfers just don’t work. For instance, the word “chat,” as in Internet chat room, runs into trouble because there’s already a perfectly good French chat, namely, “cat.” It has been suggested that the concept of une conversation intime be spelled tchat, but I doubt it’ll catch on. There’s room enough in French, as we have in English, for homonyms.

The world’s economic crises beginning in 2008 encouraged plenty of languages to adopt new words and concepts.


The term “Greek ruin” has a timeless meaning. A 19th Century image of the Parthenon, part of the Acropolis in Athens.

The Greeks, for instance, speak of something being poukou, meaning “pre-crisis.”

I like to imagine the Portuguese were thinking of the grandiosity of Grand Opera when they invented the verb grandolar to describe a singing protest using a revolutionary hymn. Suggested The New York Times, even Portuguese kids now grandolate about not wanting to eat their broccoli.

The Spanish language seems to be particular prolific in its adoption of terms more or less related to economic doldrums. Spaniards speak of los hombres de negro, the ominous European Union officials sweeping down from the north with new demands of austerity.


To Spaniards, some MIB come from Brussels.

No doubt Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith would be impressed with the reach of their Men in Black movies.

There’s also the Spanish term ni-ni. It describes a young person who has dropped out of school, yet is unemployed. “Neither studying nor working” is a characterization that, alas, has worldwide relevance these days. The article in The New York Times quotes the mother of such a kid: “Without any kind of certificate, I’ve made it clear to her that she risks being a Ni-Ni for the rest of her life.”

Spaniards even have a new word for the likes of me. A yayoflauta describes an elderly protester who has finally had enough.


This neat flauta is actually nueva, but certainly in an old style. Image from

It’s slang for “old flute.” ds

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2013

3 comments on “THERE’S A WORD FOR THAT

  1. Duane
    July 31, 2013

    I like yayoflauta better than old coot. Duane

  2. Marc René Yvon
    September 29, 2013

    Better being an “old flute” than an old fr..t. Well, you get the idea!
    By the way, i’m Québécois and you are right, chien chaud never caught on.

    Marc René

  3. M Bruce Parker
    December 31, 2013

    DS: My favorite made-up word for 2013 is “grinace” – an appropriate and inevitable response to a great/bad pun. Bruce Parker

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This entry was posted on July 31, 2013 by in I Usta be an Editor Y'Know and tagged , , .
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