Tuesday, October 15, 2013

chaise longue: Common Errors in English Usage Entry for Tuesday, October 15, 2013

chaise longue
When English speakers want to be elegant they commonly resort to French, often mangling it in the process. The entrée, the dish served before the plat, usurped the latter’s position as main dish. And how in the world did French lingerie (originally meaning linen goods of all sorts, later narrowed to underwear only), pronounced—roughly—“LANZH-uh-ree,” come to be English “lawnzh-uh-ray”? Quelle horreur! Chaise longue (literally “long chair”), pronounced—roughly—“shezz lohng” with a hard G on the end, became in English “shayz long.” Many speakers, however, confuse French chaise with English “chase” and French longue with English “lounge” (understandable since the article in question is a sort of couch or lounge), resulting in the mispronunciation “chase lounge.” We may imagine the French as chasing each other around their lounges, but a chaise is just a chair.

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