King Louis XIV ruled France (the superpower of its day) for 72 years. He had the biggest army, the biggest palace, the biggest parties and gifts, but, he was short. To compensate, he first commissions the highest throne, then the biggest wig, then the highest heels. Dancing in his new heels, he falls and is embarrassed.
D.J. Steinberg, ©2017, Simon and Shuster, 978-1-4814-2657-2
Partly because England was invaded by the Norman French in 1066, many English words have French origins, and have made their way into everyday use. In this book, baroque and derriere are two of the French words used.
From the letter B, here is a small sample of English words that began as French:
- baroque, bachelor, bacon, bailiff, ball (the party not the toy), bandage
- banquet, barge, barrette, barricade, base, basil, basket, basset (the hound)
- baste (sew), batter, bauble, bayonet, beagle, beast, beautification, beauty
- beef, beggar, beige, belfry, benevolent, berate, beret, bestial, beverage,
- bias, bigamy, bikini, billiards, billion, binocular, biopsy, biscuit, bison
- bistro, bizarre, biscuit, blame, blank, blanket, blemish, blister, block, blouse
- boil, boisterous, bomb, bon appetit, butcher, bon voyage, border, botanic
- bottle, butler, boulevard, boundary, bouquet, boutique, bowl, buzzard
- brace, bracelet, Braille, branch, brave, bribe, brick, browse, brunette
- brute, bucket, buccaneer, buffet, bugle, bulge, bullet, bulletin
- bureaucracy, burglar, bushel
Several vocabulary activities are possible to play with words:
- FRENCH THROUGH THE ALPHABET
Students in teams select 3 letters of the alphabet and find 20 English words that started as French words. Wikipedia has a good list—Google List of English Words of French Origin.
Or, give them a list of countries in the world that have contributed words to English and have them identify 15 loan words and their definitions. One characteristic of English is how flexible it is in adopting words from other languages.
- COMPLETE SENTENCES IN FRENCH-ORIGIN WORDS
Challenge students to write the longest totally English sentence, using as many words that began as French words as possible. For example, “The buccaneer berated the butler for boiling bacon for the buffet.” (6 words out of 11) and “The bestial brute (with bayonet drawn) browsed the banquet, barricading the beggar from crossing the boundary to the buffet.”
- CATEGORIES OF WORDS FROM FRENCH
Put the words above on individual cards, and ask students create categories for the words as much as possible. For example: words about clothing include baste, bauble, beret, blouse, bracelet, brunette, bikini, and boutique; words about food include: basil, banquet, bacon, biscuit, bistro, bon appetite, butcher, bracelet, buffet, beverage, batter, boil, and beef. Discuss what the categories might mean; for example, the French are famous for good food, so a lot of food words were borrowed.
King Louis in this book is actually Louis XIV. This could be an interesting opportunity to introduce students to Roman numerals.
Teaching Roman Numerals below provides a clear and entertaining explanation of how to read the numbers. Plus, it gives the reasons to learn them: to read the titles of royalty, Egyptian dynasties, and the pope; to read the date of issue of movies; to read the titles of many computer games; to read the numbers on analog watches and clocks; Olympic Games (Games of the XXVIII Olympiad; for sections in the introduction to a book (section II); on public buildings and monuments; World War I and World War II; and so on.
For 10 creative writing ideas, click King Louie’s Shoes to download.