a few words on words

Why is it that whenever people use the phrase “je ne sais quoi”, they always feel compelled to put “certain” right before it?  You hardly ever hear “je ne sais quoi” without being prefixed by “certain”.  Do people who do this just not understand what this means and feel drawn to add “certain” simply because they think it has to be part of the phrase?  I think a lot of the time, they really don’t know what it means and are just trying to be trendy and sophisticated by slipping this phrase into conversation.  “Look at me, I can use foreign words!  I’m clever!  But I have to do it in a formulaic, cookie-cutter way because I can’t think for myself!”

Speaking of trendy, newscasters are at it again.  Whenever they talked about Vladimir Putin (who is a scary little man) they used to pronounce it “PYOOT-n”.  Now it’s “POOT-n”.  That’s just fun to say.  POOT-n!  But why the sudden change?  They all made the change in pronunciation around the same time, within a couple weeks of each other.  Did he have a news conference announcing, “You’ve all been pronouncing my name wrong all this time.  It’s POOT-n.  And I just nuked your house.”

3 Responses to “a few words on words”

  1. Elle Says:

    I believe the “certain” is practically part of the expression (see examples here: http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/je_ne_sais_quoi). I do speak French, and if I were to use the expression, I would naturally add the word “certain”, it just seems right…

    As for POOT-n, his name’s always made me laugh. Ever heard of the “Poutine”? It’s pronounced the same way… Hard to take him seriously after that!

  2. pureliquidkink Says:

    I’ve read a little about poutine, but never knew it was pronounced that way. Now I’m going to laugh even harder next time he’s on the news.

  3. Elle Says:

    Heh! Specially since the poutine isn’t exactly high gastronomy…

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