Sunday, August 04, 2013

The longue and the short of it

He got it right
A story (or maybe two) in a volume of Day Keene's stories that I recently finished reading had a character relaxing on a chaise lounge. John Lawton's Bluffing Mr. Churchill, on the other hand, has:
"Troy was flat on his back on the chaise longue."
The term is French for long chair.  You may enjoy lounging on it, but it's still a chaise longue.
Chaise longue
© Peter Rozovsky 2013

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10 Comments:

Blogger seana graham said...

I wonder if this is one of those errors that by this point it is almost futile to fight.

Heresy to a copy editor, I know.

August 04, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Seana, longue/lounge is a good test case for the definition of lexical errors. The stories in the Day Keene book appeared in the 1930s and '40s, and odds are good that newspaper ads (remember them?) all over America are offering summer-clearance prices on "chaise lounges" this very day. The mistake is old and widespread in America. At one point is a mistake no longer an error?

August 04, 2013  
Blogger seana graham said...

I think it will stand, mainly because it's not something that would be caught by spellchecker.

August 04, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

The spellchecker flags "longue," so I say you're right.

Hmm..."If Loving You Is Longue, I Don't Want to Be Right." Let me copyright that.

August 04, 2013  
Blogger seana graham said...

Don't you mean copywrite it?

August 04, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I mean copyright. I want no theft of my hilarious country-song-title parodies.

August 04, 2013  
Blogger R.T. said...

The cross-pollination among languages is a fascinating issue. English, of course, like other languages constantly imports words from around the world, ever expanding the lexicon. I leave the proof of the following to people much wiser than yours truly, but I imagine that another thousand years (or even sooner), the world will have evolved into having only one universal language. With the explosive changes foreseeable in communications and travel beyond borders (great phrase there--beyond borders!), I see no reason for different languages in different regions (or countries--if they still exist). Perhaps some linguist out there could comment on my off-the-cuff theory. For now, I retire to my chaise for an evening of mystery courtesy of PBS.

August 04, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

English does even more such importing than other languages, it is said, one reason its vocabulary is so much larger than that of other languages.

By "one universal language," do you mean a single lingua franca, which everyone will speak in a addition to their own languages, which they will continue so speak among their own groups? Or do you mean that everyone will speak one language irrespective of whom they're speaking to? Any number of counter-tendencies could militate against the latter.

August 04, 2013  
Blogger R.T. said...

So many languages have disappeared over the many centuries that it seems likely that in another ten or more centuries that one language will dominate while dying languages will languish in isolated locales. Ask the Romans what happened to Latin. Ask the Celts what has happened to their language(s). Ask Chaucer was happened to his species of English? Ask the Cherokee about their language. Jump in a time machine, stop at the year 3500, and listen carefully to how many people are speaking the same language. Hey, it's just an off the cuff theory.

August 04, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I don't doubt the phenomenon of language loss, and I believe the phenomenon is well documented. Latin, a linguist might say, is still being spoken and written, though in forms we know as Italian, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Romanian, etc. The question is whether the loss will continue until the number of languages reaches one. And what the heck is a language, anyhow? Various dialects of Chinese are mutually incompressible. If China were to fragment into regions and territories that attained their own sovereignty tomorrow, and were to retain that sovereignty, would their various spoken languages still be referred to under the rubric "Chinese"?

August 04, 2013  

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