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Snail and granny words win contest

The words escargoter and se mémériser were voted by language experts to be the best suggestions for new words

A WEEK-long celebration of the French language has come up with three new words that may eventually end up in dictionaries.

Escargoter, se mémériser and tôtif were voted the best new words out of 3,000 submitted online as part of La Semaine de la Langue Française.

A jury of language specialists selected the words from among ones that gained the most Facebook “likes” from users, as being ones they thought were inventive, sounded good and might enter into common use.

The week’s organisers (the Culture Ministry and partners from the worlds of culture and the media), think they might one day go into the dictionary.

Escargoter (literally, to snail) was defined as taking one’s time and won in the “senior” category, while the “junior” category was won by se mémériser (to granny-ise), meaning to dress too old for one’s age, as in “elle pourrait être jolie si elle ne prenait pas tant de soin à se mémériser” (she could be pretty if she didn’t try so hard to “grannyise” herself).

A “special jury prize” went to tôtif, based on tardif, a new adjective meaning early, as in un reveil tôtif (an early waking) or a related adverb, tôtivement.

Runners up in the senior category included cordiamicalement, for signing off letters to someone you feel more than “cordial”, but not exactly friendly, towards; bussoter, meaning to wait for the bus, and lalaliser, defined as having three possible meanings: to sing “la, la, la” when you don’t know the words; to say “oh là là” too often (as in il m’énerve, il lalalise sans cesse - he gets on my nerves by constantly saying “oh là là”); and to treat something too lightly, as in il ne faut pas lalaliser ce problem – we should not “lalalise” this problem.


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