French has long been the donor language par excellence in the history of English. French has contributed to the English vocabulary in the form of new words since before the Norman Conquest. The French influence on the English lexicon represents the focus of linguistic concern in a considerable number of investigations of the language and its development. Yet French borrowings which have recently been adopted into English have as yet figured little if at all in such studies.
The present study sets out to shed light on the French impact on English in the recent past. The results presented in this book are based on a corpus of 1677 twentieth-century French borrowings collected from the Oxford English Dictionary Online. On the basis of their meanings, the words under consideration have been assigned to different subject fields in order to give a tour d’horizon of the manifold areas and spheres of life enriched by French in recent times.
The first part of the present investigation concentrates on the phonological and orthographical reception of the various borrowings. The focus of this study is on the semantic development of the French borrowings in comparison to their sources in the donor language. Emphasis has been placed upon analysing whether a particular meaning a borrowing assumes after its first attested use is taken over from French, or whether it represents an independent semantic change within English.