We all know the stereotype: liberals are wine-sipping Europhiles and conservatives stand for old-fashioned American values against European--particularly French--decadence. Conservative stalwart National Review in some respects confirms this: Charles Krauthammer
derides the French for World War II appeasement, while former National Review mainstay Denis Boyles once characterized France
as full of "élitists and their spoiled children,
government-employed Marxists and sundry Trotskyites." Two National Review pillars, however, make a special exception. If nothing else, Jay Nordlinger and Mark Steyn appreciate the French language enough to want to leave common phrases untranslated. Nordlinger
addresses reader complaints of "too much untranslated French." Explains
Nordlinger, "I quoted the poetical line, '. . . où sont les neiges
d'antan?'" Nordlinger thinks this is a judgment call--though you don't
want to "befuddle" the reader, you also don't want to "condescend" to
him, and not translating can signal that a phrase should be learned.
For example, he explains, his untranslated line means "'Where are the
snows of yesteryear?' and comes from the medieval balladeer Villon."Mark Steyn
seconds the idea: "Every time I use a non-English expression round
these parts I get a ton of mail dismissing me as a Rino-squish
metrosexual who pays too much for his hairdresser and is undoubtedly
the love-child of David Frum and Arianna Huffington." But he argues,
cleverly, that "random insertion of foreign lingo is as American as
apple pie à la mode." He's got some harsh words, too, for "those
editors ... who insist on replacing 'Dickensian' with 'in the style of
Charles Dickens, English novelist, 1812-1870.'"
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