View Full Version : Antique Slang and British/French Enmity

11-09-10, 06:19
Many years ago (I was about 12 years old) I read a book by Charlton Laird, named The Miracle of Language It wasn't really a scholarly work but a book written as popular literature. However it did really get me interested in languages particularly Indo-European languages.
One of the things I remember was a particular turn where Laird mentioned how the slang of a language sometimes pointed to some long felt cultural enmity. One of the examples he gave was the English phrase, "French Letters" which was British slang for condoms. This apparently was supposed to be a pointed jab at rampant sexuality of the French, by British troops during World War I.
Not to be out done at jab pointing the French had their own laugh at the British (and their apparent reluctance to use "French Letters".) The French phrase was, "La maladie anglaise" or The English disease, for Syphilis.