I came upon the word sang froid today . Sang froid ain’t an ever-day word in these parts , unless the populace is whispering stuff like that behind my back . That could be , but I don’t think so .
By luck , we had Shant and Monique over for dinner . They’re French-speakers , and so I asked them : Ever heard of sang froid ? They were stumped at first . My English reading of the French expression didn’t say anything to them . They gave me blank looks . ” I think I’ve heard of it , ” said Monique ; but she couldn’t say what it meant .
And then Shant , who was born in Bagdad and speaks Armenian, Ariabic, English , French , and a little of a few other languages , caught on . ” Oh , ” he said , ” you mean………..” and then he pronounced the sang froid expression the way it was meant to be said , the way any educated Lingua Franca , pre- Lingo Anglo , cultured person would have pronounced it .
I missed the French classes in high school . I took Spanish . I also had two years of Latin . There were Greek classes , too . Ancient Greek . I never took Greek . I speak about as much Spanish , now , as I do Latin , and just about as much French as I do ancient Greek . I know two words in Armenian , none in Arabic or Farsi or in several other world languages . No Hindi or Swahili . I can order a beer in German . I understand very little , but some , Polish . It’s safe to say I don’t know much more language than I do know .
When I came upon sang froid in the LA Times I was a little surprised . Don’t newspapers write to about 6th-grade education level ? They do it so that the American populace will comprehend the stories on their pages . I’m fine with that . I don’t need a daily reading-comprehension challenge in the morning . But , then , I’m lazy .
Sticking sang froid in there one morning stirred me up , a little . I had to find out what the words mean . I had the feeling that I had come across sang froid sometime long long ago , but I had absolutely no idea what it might mean . It was part of a report about some events in France . Some French politician had told the people to have sang froid, after a string of recent tragedies . I think that was it .
I opened up Merriam’s dictionary on the world-wide web . I got a meaning for sang froid . Snag Freud . Sang frog . Turns out sang means blood , Shant told me . Froid : cold . Cold -blooded . That brings some meaning to the expression . That’s not what Merriam told me . Theirs was more literarily and obscure . Or , maybe, it’s just me .
I might consider that French politician’s advice . I won’t worry about exploring the syxtax , thorax , etomology , and demonology of the terminology of sang froid . I’ll just be a lot more sang froidy if I come up against a word I don’t know . After all , I don’t have the dictionary memorized and there are tons of unknown-t0-me words out there . Hiding . I mean , of course , English words . I’ve already said : most of the world’s words I have no clue about .
The problem , I think , is that sang froid , a French expression , pretends to be an English word . Okay , I know , a good chunk of English was originally French ; but that was a very long time ago that that happened ; way back in Saxon times . I’d like to give sang froid back to the French . It’s not used much here in southern California , anyway , these days . It didn’t catch on , I guess . Let’s weed out the words not used and , if they belong somewhere else in the world , give them back . Have a word exchange , a lingo-repatriation . Not quite a prisoner -exchange , but along those lines .
Meanwhile , I won’t wish you sang froid . That would be , I’m pretty sure , a little too cold-blooded . What the world needs now , probably , is the opposite . Entiende ? Rozumiem ?