We encourage our students to use the internet when they stay with us. It can be a superb information resource, and we encourage students to question what they find there. We encourage it to promote the distinction between fact (faits/renseignements) and opinion.

Quite often in a discussion someone asks a question to which we don’t know the answer. Sometimes the answer is on the internet.

Equally, sometimes the internet has a multitude of possible answers, each of which is different, and this animates the discussion even more!

The questions “Why do the English drive on the left?” (« Pourquoi les anglais roulent-ils à gauche ? ») or “Why do the French drive on the right?” (« Pourquoi les français roulent-ils à droite ? ») have multiple answers, some of which are idiotic, some of which are instructive and one or two of which might be true.

As with most things, critical thinking (réfléchisse sérieusement) goes a long way.

I google, you google

Yes, here is the word ‘Google’ used as a verb. In recent years, this has become acceptable. It even takes different verb tenses, as in ‘We googled for it last night’ or ‘We’ll google for it when we get home’. Bizarre but true!

The Hoover logo

The English language has many nouns that have been derived from a name: an amp (ampere), an atlas and a becquerel, for example. But there are very few examples of verbs that have been derived from names. ‘Google’ is an example. As is ‘hoover’ (named after William Henry Hoover (1849-1932) the manufacturer of vacuum cleaners (aspirateurs)): “I will hoover the house this afternoon”.

The Karcher logo

Indeed, where a Frenchman might say (metaphorically) « … nettoyer au karcher (les quartiers difficiles) … », an Englishman could say (literally) “I will karcher (the terrace this afternoon)”.

Some more examples?

  • “Shall we skype them?”
  • “You should facebook that!”
  • “I photoshopped your photo!”
  • “You could tweet that.”

Note that these new verbs never begin with a capital letter (majuscule).