Monday, May 08, 2006

Silly French

There is a word that has languished in the in-tray of my subconscious for some time, without my realising it. This word is Shampooing. Now, as a conjugation of the verb "Shampoo" - meaning to wash one's hair - it's common enough, but it's always had a weird, un-finger-put-onnable extra quality. Something haunting, elusive, and evocative of mystery barely understood, let alone explained.

So there I was today, sitting in a bath, searching for amusement in the absence of a rubber duck, a radio, or an erection. I alighted on one of those little sachets of complimentary hotel shampoo; liberated, no doubt, on some wild adventure behind enemy lines. The legend read "Shampoo / Shampooing". Given leisure to consider this, I realised that yes, they always say that, don't they? I had simply ever cared before. Logic therefore leads me to imagine that Shampooing must be a foreign word for the noun Shampoo. Most likely, French. A quick Google confirms this.

Well, come on - this is pretty wild, isn't it? Wouldn't we expect that most elegant of languages to have derived something more like Shampeau or Shampur? Shampooing is so daft, clunky, and un-French. And it's an ing word, for the love of... that can't be a noun, you daft messieurs!

Having, however, accepted this (very silly) fact, may I now suggest that time, resources and effort are spared by simply labelling shampoo sachets with Shampooing? A French speaker will think "Ah, it's shampoo", while an anglophone will likewise deduce "Ah, it's for shampooing" - job done, either way, and seven whole letters saved. That's got to be a couple of trees, or half a dolphin, or something?

1 comment:

Paul Rhodes said...

Just to confuse matters, the French for "shampooing" would be "shampouinant".