Another lexical creation in French, which Jean Véronis could have caught had he fished for neologisms in the RSS feeds of Libération: blog-bouler, adj. (and past participle) blog-boulé/e.

A junior high school girl has nearly been blog-boulée, i.e. “blog-balled”: expelled from her school for having slandered her maths teacher on her (less than one month old) blog. Unlike twelve of her fellow-students (according to Libé), she was let off with a suspended sanction, but her teacher has filed a complaint with the police (and her father is reported to have claimed to give her a thorough thrashing).

Not to go to deeply into the matter itself, I’m glad she got off (esp. since the reported insult is rather mild, in my book), and hope that the schools and teachers will get a handle on educating the kids about speech on the internet soon.

Blog-bouler is of course a blend of blog and blackbouler. The latter is a borrowing — half calque — from English blackball. Not a recent one by any means — TLFi has a citation of 1834 with the spelling blackbull (no relations to bulls, I’d think), and of 1837 with in the contemporary form.

(Explanation of the post title: avoir les boules, i.e. “have the balls”, is an idiom that means “be extremely angry”. Usually, a declaration that one a les boules is accompanied by a gesture, a movement of the open palm towards the front of one’s neck. Where the putative balls are supposedly situated.)

cloud of neologisms missing from the French dictionary

At Technologies du Langage, Jean Véronis provides a stunning visual of words he picked out of RSS feed of Le Monde, but which are absent from what is certainly the best French online dictionary, TLFi. The Trésor de la langue française, he reminds us, took 30 years to compile until it was completed in 1994. Among the neologisms, “internet” looms large, of course, but there’s also “pédophile”, “homophobie”, “hutus” and “tutsis”, “teknival”, “anti-tabac”, and the newest addition, “droitiser”.

Let’s note that these new additions to the journalistic lexicon are far from being all anglicisms. The presence of “assurance-maladie”, “directeur-général” and “porte-parole” are a bit surprising to me, but maybe they actually do appear somewhere under a dictionary entry, but are just not deemed important enough to get their own lemmata.

A previous post already talked about dictionaries from an unusual angle: by not looking at the new words that enter but those that are dropped by the publishers of mid-sized tomes for the general public.