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Anyway, French doesn't even have words for toe or potato.Really ?

But Brits have no word for "jouïr".
I know only a sprinkling of German, but I've ... word is a bunch of letters between two spaces, then...

Quite so. English has compoundnounsyndrome just the same as the other flavours of Germanic, but the orthography is terribly misleading ... the Normans, or that "compound" in "compound noun" is an adjective, though, so don't expect to convince everyone anytime soon.

My guess is that the anomalous orthography of Modern English regarding compounds originated with lazy or stingy printers, who were able to save a hyphen whenever a compound had to be broken at the end of a line of text.

The cost of this marginal (in both senses) saving of time and lead is the widespread set of misconceptions, found even among educated English-speakers, to the effect that English "uses nouns as adjectives", "uses nouns attributively", and so forth.
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Here in Amsterdam there are a few shops selling "Vlaamse frieten", but we call it "patat".

The 'Vlaamse Frieten' seems to be a rapidly expanding chain.

Except that they are not a chain as far as I know.
dik t. winter, cwi, kruislaan 413, 1098 sj amsterdam, nederland, +31205924131 home: bovenover 215, 1025 jn amsterdam, nederland; http://www.cwi.nl/~dik/
and

and where In English, another brasswind instrument and a snack cracker are both "bugles." Go figure.

Can someone tell me what "go figure" means? I have been trying to work it out from these two examples, but I can't.

Sorry, I know it's bad form to answer one's own posting, but this is a genuine question. I have often wondered exactly what "go figure" means, and would be grateful if someone could let me know.

Louisa
Essex, England, Europe
I have often wondered exactly what "go figure" means, and would be grateful if someone could let me know.

It exactly means "dot-matrix design composed of Chinese board-game pieces".
(A clue: your closest Essex cognate is probably "Funny old world, innit".)

Ross Howard
Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?
Not a bad marketing idea to come up with a new lexical item for a new product.

"'People have told us that dried plums evoke a more positive "fresh fruit goodness" image. They've said they're more likely ... director of the California Prune Board. But he had no plans to rename his group the California Dried Plum Board."

But prunes aren't the same thing as the dried plums mentioned previously in this thread.
Both Web pages mention the renaming of the "Chinese gooseberry" as the "kiwifruit."

Had anyone ever tried to import and widely market Chinese gooseberries? I'd occasionally seen a picture of a gooseberry, but it never occurred to me that a kiwi was a kind of gooseberry.

Peter T. Daniels (Email Removed)
The Belgian fries places that sprouted all over the Village ... offered is "mayonnaise," which has nothing to do with Hellman's.)

Well, as the Belgians are the inventors of the French fries, they may

Did Belgium send troops to Iraq? Then they're still Freedom Fries. (NPR did a little story on them last week the cafeteria manager in one of the House office buildings said that because it involved an Act of Congress, they can't take the stupid label off the french fries until the Act is repealed.)
have something to say about it. But in Belgium they are called "frieten" of "frites" (depending on where you are). ... "patates frites" in France. Here in Amsterdam there are a few shops selling "Vlaamse frieten", but we call it "patat".

The pommes frites sold in trendy Manhattan neighborhoods are shaped like McDonalds fries (square columns of potato), but more slender. Perhaps this was a variation that already existed in Belgium, and the entrepreneurs figured the familiar shape would be more readily accepted in the New York market?

Peter T. Daniels (Email Removed)
No, it was not a camel nor a dromedary. There was a mistake by St. Hyeronimus

A valiant effort, but he's called "St. Jerome" in English. The only Hieronymus I know of is Bosch.

Actually, it seems like you perfectly well know about Bosch's namesake, Hieronymus, Doctor of the Church, translator of the Vulgate, etc.
Peter T. Daniels (Email Removed)
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"Toe" is "orteil". You may be thinking of Spanish, which I think has "dedo de pie".

As I learned it, French uses "doigt de pied" and "pomme de terre". Like Andre, I've also heard "patate" for "sweet potato" from French-Canadians.

Teaching us those phrases would thus seem to have been a French plot so that they'll always be able to identify Americans, even if our accents are perfect.

Peter T. Daniels (Email Removed)
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