Laugh out loud in English says new French dictionary

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The 2013 edition of Le Petit Robert, France’s famous reference dictionary, launched on Thursday in French bookshops, as always, gives a fascinating glimpse into the state of the French language…


'Lol' makes its first appearance. Readers are told that it is an English acronym, from 'laugh out loud', which is then translated as éclaté de rire. Streetwise French kids already knew that, they use it freely, but they also like the French version mdr (mort de rire - dying of laughter).

As the 83-year-old editorial advisor Alain Rey explains, “We have our share of anglicisms. We can’t help it, we take frequency of usage into account when we are making our choice of words”

That’s how the new verb oscariser made it into the latest edition, after the excitement in the French press following Jean Dujardin’s success in Hollywood with The Artist.

Hollywood is also at the root of another new word in the edition: 'Biopic' also appears for the first time.

There are about 300 new words or expressions in the 2013 edition, and 60,000 words altogether.

A panel of eight linguists tries to establish whether trendy new words will last or disappear from usage within a year or two. Then they vote with hands raised and if there’s no agreement, the editor has the deciding vote.

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