Language Matters

Kathleen Stein Smith, Ph.D

From “copain” to “fiancé” — The French in our lives

When I read that copain had its origin in Latin as “with whom one breaks bread,” the presence — sometimes invisible at first glance —  of French in our lives made me think of other terms and concepts that, although we may take them for granted in our everyday lives, come to us from French.

During the day, I may sit at a table, in an adorable café, shop in the petite department of my favorite boutique for something chic to wear at an upcoming soirée with my fiancé.

At home, I may read a critique of one of my favorite books before I make the hors d’oeuvres, or even a quiche, to serve with an apéritif before we begin the evening’s conversation.

And although one of the guests may be impossible, we will never let him/her know!  🙂

Languages do matter!


History of French Fries: All About The Origins of the World’s Favourite Potato Fritters

“Several historians claim that what we enjoy today as French fries, may not be a French creation but a Belgian one. According to them, it was in Belgium where potatoes were being fried in the late-1600’s. Then during World War 1 when American soldiers chanced upon the fried delicacy, then immediately fell in love with it. Since the dominant language of southern Belgium is French, they dubbed them as “French” fries and the name stayed.”

Read more @

Languages do matter!

The Dos and Don’ts of Gift-Giving Around the World

What should you do when someone refuses a gift in Japan? And what colors should you use when wrapping a gift in Italy? We’ve got the answers.

If you think the art of giving gifts is tricky at home, try making it work abroad. While you must carefully choose the item itself, the gift’s wrapping is surprisingly important, too, as is the timing. In fact, in many cultures, gift-giving is like a traditional dance—you have to do the steps in order, in time to the music, and without stepping on anyone’s toes for it to be a good experience for everyone involved.”

Read more @

Languages do matter!

Survey shows long-term impacts of language travel

“When asked what helped them improve their language skill the most, 90% of respondents to global language provider Sprachcaffe’s Language Learning Sustainability Project said it was face-to-face interaction with other people.

Over half said they are more confident speaking the language thanks to the experience of learning abroad while 20% said it helped them travel more and 13% said it contributed to a change in their work life.”

Read more @

Languages do matter!

From the Nutcracker to the Perfect Bûche de Noël — the French in Our Lives

At this time of year, a stroll in the city may include going to the Nutcracker ballet, replete with pirouettes, jetés, and a wonderful pas de deux, listening to a reading and discussion of “A Very French Christmas” at Albertine, or simply gazing at the holiday decorations on the Cartier 5th Avenue flagship store.

Christmastime in the city may also mean a search for the perfect bûche de Noël or just some macaronsin one of the city’s pâtisseries, or for the perfect gift in one of the city’s Marchés de Noël.

Joyeux Noël, bonne année et bonne santé à tous!

Languages do matter!

Kathy named a Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Palmes académiques

I am delighted to share with you the good news that I have been named a Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Palmes académiques, “a national order of France for distinguished academics and figures in the world of culture and education.” (

This is, in so many ways, the culmination of a lifelong interest in — and affection for — the French language and all that it represents historically and geographically, as a language of culture, diplomacy, and “soft power.”

Many thanks to all the good friends who supported me through the process, especially to Fabrice Jaumont, Karl Cogard, and to all my friends at AATF and our other professional associations of foreign language and international educators, and of language services professionals.

Languages do matter!

Giving Thanks Around the World

“Dig in and feast on fruitful knowledge about different countries — including Korea, India and Ghana — that give thanks by throwing festivals to commemorate a great harvest and year.”

Read more @

Languages do matter!

From “Pecan” to “Aunt” — The French in Our Lives

In the week leading up to Thanksgiving, thoughts turn frequently to family and food.

In discussing our aunt’s upcoming visit, or her wonderful pecan pie, many of us pronounce these words à la française, expressing even unconsciously the direct — or indirect — trajectory of these American words from French into English.

Pronunciation varies, as do opinions!  🙂

How do you pronounce these words?

Languages do matter!


Estadio Azteca: A Study — Mark Connolly’s Corner

Whether you’ve been targeting the date since the spring or just noticed looking ahead at the Week 11 matchups, you now know the New England Patriots are playing the Oakland Raiders in La Ciudad de México this Sunday. The game will be played in Estadio Azteca, one of the truly legendary venues in global sport. […]

via Estadio Azteca: A Study — Mark Connolly’s Corner

Over 23,000 Views for “Language Matters” — Thank You!!!

Over 23,000 views!!!  Many thanks to all of you who have taken the time to view “Language Matters.”

Languages do matter!