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APERCU

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APERCU

Postby Dr. Goodword » Fri May 15, 2009 11:02 pm

• apercu •

Pronunciation: ah-pêr-suHear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. A précis, an outline, a synopsis. 2. An insight, an illuminating or witty point.

Notes: If you want to be fancy, you can give the C in this word a little beard as the French do, aperçu. In fact, because this word has retained so much of its French sound and appearance, it has not been able to produce an English family and brought none with it from France; it is out there all alone, a lexical orphan. Don't forget: the accent still falls on the final syllable, as it does in all French words.

In Play: We seem to enjoy French words like précis and apercu referring to synopses: "As part of the interview, I was asked to give an apercu of my life up to that point, a parameter that allowed me to cover pretty much everything I had accomplished." However, this word may also be used to indicate a small but poignant insight: "His lecture was filled with little apercus about duck farming that made his points more easily understood."

Word History: This Good Word is the past participle of the French verb apercevoir "to perceive", which we also borrowed long ago as apperceive. The French inherited their word from New Latin appercipere "to perceive", working its peculiar magic on its appearance and pronunciation. The Latin verb is a combination of ad "(up) to" + percipere "to grasp, comprehend", itself composed of per "through, thorough" + capere "to seize, grab". The root of this word is visible in a host of words borrowed directly or indirectly from Latin, for example capture, accept, and reception. The original Proto-Indo-European root came through Old Germanic to English as haft "tool or weapon handle", as the haft of an ax, which we don't use any more unless we hafta. (We have to thank Mary Jane Stoneburg for her aperçu that this word belongs in our Good Word series.)
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Postby Slava » Fri Jul 13, 2012 10:06 pm

About that "s" at the end of the plural, is it pronounced? If so, is it a "z"?
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Postby Philip Hudson » Fri Jul 13, 2012 11:16 pm

I believe the "s" for plural is always pronounced in English and these French words have become English enough to pronounce the "s". I am not a Francophone so I don’t know about French plurals. Sometimes the "s" is pronounced "s" and sometimes it is pronounced "z". Sometimes it seems to be “sort of both”, whatever that means. I think the presence of other letters dictate the choice but it may just be habit or preference.
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Postby LukeJavan8 » Sat Jul 14, 2012 11:12 am

The French inherited their word from New Latin appercipere "to perceive", working its peculiar magic on its appearance and pronunciation.

When did 'New Latin' make its appearance? After the
demise of the Empire in 476, maybe? I've never heard
this distinction before - where is the dividing line
between the Old and the New?
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Postby Philip Hudson » Sun Jul 15, 2012 12:53 am

French is the New Latin. Joke!
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Postby LukeJavan8 » Sun Jul 15, 2012 12:29 pm

Heh.
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